Retreat From Retail: The Thrill of the Thrift Shop

Thrift Shop

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I’m late to the party, but Seattle hip-hop hottie Macklemore’s single “Thrift Shop”  is kind of my anthem. (I won’t say it’s my jam, but if I were the sort of person who said that sort of thing, you’d know I was serious.) In the second verse when he scolds folks for paying fifty bucks for a tee shirt and says “I call that getting tricked by a business,” I want to pump my fist in the air. You see, its not some hipster odyssey I meant to go on, but last year I just actively avoided the mall: I mean, all together.

I grew up rummaging through thrift shops with my grandmother; getting made fun of in school for my bold yet fiscally sound fashion decisions was expected. In a fifth grade photo, I have on a yellow tee that looks vintage even for the late-eighties. It has cuddly brown puppies (real puppies, not cartoons) printed on it, and I’m rocking my mom’s jean jacket. I topped this look off with a pixie hair cut. I looked like Lena Dunham before she did.

I learned though, to look for classic wardrobe staples (obviously in addition to puppy tee shirts and “Billie Jean” zippered, red leather jackets) and would score the occasional J.Crew on the cheap.

I never gave up my thrifting roots. Only, I kept it more supplemental because, as a grown-up I could afford to buy items new, and adjusted my philosophies to include, for example, outlet mall shopping. And I still collect cool t-shirts. But after a few years of living in Los Angeles, the complete retreat from retail came naturally.

Surrounded by sparkling SoCal excess but with no cash to spare while trying to get by as a writer in the expensive city, I again embraced my local thrift stores to score chic pieces. Why suffer the anxiety of sitting in notoriously heinous L.A. traffic to weave through a crowded and noisy mall? Sweating every purchase, counting every penny with precision, combing the place for hours to make sure I got the a good deal. I know where to get a good deal.

I do enjoy a good Old Navy yoga pant, I just order them online when they’re on sale. I still wear some label clothes. In fact, I scored a designer little black dress half-off two weeks ago. That’s right, I don’t just thrift shop, I actually look for thrift shop sales. It’s a point of personal pride. I treasure the unique bargains I find, and when I do make a fashion blunder or misjudge a size, it doesn’t waste four hours of my time and cost a week’s groceries. To me it’s just common sense and frugality, along with that little thrill of finding something that’s perfect for me. Retreat from retail, join me and go mall free in 2013.

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