Country Living Series

Friday, September 13, 2013

Confessions of a thriftaholic

Last week when I spoke to the English woman about the casting call for Blast Films, our discussion centered quite a bit on how so many rural people are generally thrifty, and how it helps to be immune from fashion if you're going to live in the country. I told her that we never, EVER recreationally shop. Ever. I also said that ALL of our clothing purchases, with the exception of sock and underwear, occur in thrift stores.

This concept seemed to boggle her. "Don't your daughters ever long for shopping experiences in new shops?" she asked. "Don't they ever want to buy a new pair of designer jeans?"

I laughed heartily at this concept. "My older daughter is our little fashionista," I told her. "She loves nice clothes. But we're so used to thrift store prices and the ability to buy anything we want for a fraction of the cost, that whenever we go into a retail store and look at their clothes, the kids come away with sticker shock."

You see, this woman was operating under the identical premise that so many people (especially women) have, to wit: shopping is fun.

Fortunately our girls got their shopping genes from me, and here's my take on the subject: I hate shopping.

I really do. I never long to waft through a mall, fingering garments, trying things on just for fun, blowing a wad of cash. I get bored just typing about it.

Have you ever read Confessions of a Shopoholic? It's a light-hearted amusing book, and it was successful enough that the author wrote a bunch of spin-offs (Shopoholic Takes Manhatten, Shopoholic Ties the Knot, etc.) One of the spinoffs was called Shopoholic and Sister, in which the main character (Becky) tries to forge a relationship with a newly-discovered half-sister named Jessica. The best bonding experience Becky can imagine is shopping together, so they go off for a day-long outing in stores. Trouble is, Jessica was raised to be thrifty and she finds shopping to be a total bore.


I enjoyed that book because I am Jessica.

Thankfully, so are my daughters. When I told Older Daughter about my conversation with this lady from London, about whether she ever longs for shopping experiences, Older Daughter had a good laugh. "I can blow a wad of cash at a thrift store and emerge with a mountain of clothes," she said, "versus a single pair of designer jeans bought new at a retail store."

Our favorite thrift store is Value Village, which has a wide selection of clothing, books, household items, kitchen items, etc. I estimate that 95% of our shopping is done at VV.


We were in Value Village this week, and Older Daughter found a skirt she particularly liked for $5. I'm guessing it would be in the realm of $50 or so in a retail establishment. As we paid for it, she exclaimed, "I just LOVE thrift stores!"

So no, I'd say she never longs for shopping experiences. (Except at thrift stores, of course.) We're at minimum an hour's drive from the nearest retail stores, so none of us can ever impulse-shop anyway.

Which, now that I think about it, may be one of the "keys" for people who live self-sufficient lives -- we're indifferent to fashion or other trendy issues and just prefer to live as frugally as possible, immune to the lures of advertising, cultural peer pressure, and trends.

Something to think about.

40 comments:

  1. I am with you. I HATE shopping. Someone told me I shop like a man. I go in get what I need and get out. I think they were trying to insult me, but I smiled and thanked them for the compliment. :)

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  2. I agree on the being thrifty part. We too rarely ever buy new clothes at stores, almost everything is from thrift stores, except for socks and underwear, although Deseret Industries in my area does have the "irregular/flawed" brand new packages of underwear and socks in select sizes each time for far cheaper than stores, so we always keep an eye out there, but usually that is stuff we buy new at stores. Since I have a younger kid who still is in the toddler years we often browse walmart's clearance racks/tables at certain times of the year right before they do their yearly inventory (August), and then when the seasonal clothing changes occur and often can find shirts/pants for her for $0.50-1.00 each, not bad. I live about 30 miles away from thrift stores, but when we take a trip into town we usually hit several when we are there. One particular thrift store in my area is run by a local church and at least once a month they have a weekend with $0.25 clothes so we try to plan our shopping trips around that day so we can get there when they open and stock up on clothes since literally all clothes in the store, including coats, and sometimes even shoes are just $0.25 each. That store also has giant free bins out front where they throw all clothes that are stained or missing buttons, so I dig through there as well and have found some really nice clothes that just needed a few buttons sewed on, which is perfect for wearing around the property. I often get canning jars at thrift stores for $0.25 each and always keep an eye out for various other kitchen related supplies I might need as well as books. Love thrift stores, I never really shop anywhere else, except for groceries :)

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  3. I despise retail but must acknowledge that without retail and those that shop retail, there would be no thrifty resale shops. We do enjoy the occasional afternoon of recreational thrift shop lurking with my two teenaged girls. They usually save their cash and I walk away with a few bags stuffed with goodies for $20 bucks tops. Funny when a girl thinks $4 is too spendy for a pair of jeans! And to think there are those that consider $80 jeans a bargain!

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  4. I hate shopping for clothes. HATE IT. My husband just doesn't understand. If I have to do shopping for an occasion (or because I've worn down what I have so badly), I'm liable to break down crying. I also hate now that women's clothes are so poorly constructed that even when I find something I like, it falls apart before too long. It's times like these I really wish I knew how to sew (though I don't really have the time these days).

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    1. I'm with you about poorly constructed women's clothes! That's why I only wear men's shirts....that I find at the thrift store.

      Just me

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    2. I, too, cry if I MUST get something for a super special occasion. I HATE shopping and spending money on "stuff" in general. Occasionally, when I am out and about getting "necessities" I will come upon something way cute and get it for the granddaughters. I am usually on the look out for the practical, though, such as quality winter boots at the end of the season.

      I have an "former" husband and his mom and sisters can and do shop for fun and I found it to be an all day torture session. I would be sleepless the night before due to absolute dread.

      However, I have been known to go to two day horse sales...just to shop/watch!

      sidetracksusie

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    3. I never thought of buying men's shirts. ....huh. I love wearing a tank top or t-shirt under a button up shirt as a "jacket".

      I'll admit I was shopping just yesterday on the way back from a hunting trip. There is a sporting goods store that has a top notch women's clothing area....lifestyle clothing such as Columbia, Woolrich etc. I oozed over all the pretty colors and put them in a mental Rolodex.

      You see, I shop Goodwill. I hate to shop and I hate to browse. Since I familiarize myself with the styles, I can pick them out of a rack in a snap. My husband is a 2XLT and I have had no problem finding him shirts there as well. Shirts there run $3 instead of $45+. I spotted a pair of very new looking Carhartt jeans on day and bought. I tried them on a home and went back the next day to snag the other two identical pair. A little over $3 a pair.

      A sad story, I was at my favorite Goodwill one day glancing through the racks. I looked up and saw a family acquaintance. When she saw me, she looked panicked. I don't know if she was mortified to see me or mortified that I saw her. I know they are not of thick money, so I see it as being a smart shopper.

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  5. A confession.
    I LOVE shopping.
    At gun shows and local family owned gun shops.
    Terry
    Fla.

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  6. My daughter bought a full length leather coat in perfect condition for $17 and her daughter's full length formal cost $15 at the Salvation Army store. Both have been much admired. Her daughter wants to go to "the Sal" before even considering any other place for clothes.

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    1. I am gearing up to buy some cast off prom and wedding gowns to sew up some fabulous little girl princess type dresses for playing dress up. I looked and looked for cheaper fabric and lace, and then it hit me that for pennies on the dollar I could get what I needed at the thrift shops. Christmas presents on the cheap!

      sidetracksusie

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  7. Amen sister. I hate malls. I do shop at Estate Sales though. And, I have over 10 thrift stores within 10 miles (most much less) from my office. Once or twice a month I'll wonder through them. However, like you, I buy new underwear, sock & shoes (unless they are obviously new in the thrift store). Also, I am looking to furnish a 3rd kitchen & am only buying stainless steel cookware at the estate sales.

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  8. My husband, Ken, and I are really fortunate in this department. We work for a Spokane nonprofit which has thrift stores, and get an employee discount of 50% on clothes. Why would we ever shop anywhere else? Our three teenage boys have been able to get past the 'stigma' of thrift store clothes, and rarely want to shop anywhere else. After all, I can't think of a single retail store where I can walk out with two pairs of jeans, denim capris, a flannel shirt, two long sleeve shirts, 4 towels and a set of new trivets for $20. My best find so far has been an almost coat normally retailing at REI or Nordstrom's for $165- my price? $5. The difference there buys a lot of groceries.

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  9. My wife and I enjoy shopping for groceries, because we always look for bargains, and we usually find some really good ones! But... shopping for clothes or shoes? No. BOOORING! I have two pairs of tennies, one ratty pair I wear when I'm working around the house, and the other, nice pair for when we go to town to grocery shop, see the doc or whatever. I have one nice pair of dress shoes that I wear for "special" occasions. I also have a good pair of boots for working outside. I have two pairs of nice pants, levis for when it's cold, a few sweaters and one heavy jacket. Finally, I have a suit I haven't worn in years. I much prefer polo shirts with a pocket (hard to find nowadays!) and shorts. So much of what people buy is nothing more than money-makers for businesses. Most of it we don't need. Women who have 20 or 30 pairs of shoes in their closets are nuts. Even a bit pathetic, in my opinion. It's just a lot of junk that satisfies our egos and compels us to waste our money. --Fred & Deb in AZ

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  10. I love thrift stores too! Like you, we buy 100% of our clothing, except socks and underwear from thrift stores. There is one in particular we like in our county, about 30 minutes away, that is close to a wealthier community of lakefront properties. All those wealthy people bring their barely-worn clothing in all the time. Why spend hundreds of dollars when you can find LL Bean or Coldwater Creek labels for .50-$1.00?

    Jane

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  11. I live in close proximity to 'a Touristy/Resort town'
    lots O' skiing, fishing, outdoor sports, etc. Also with a high seasonal turnover, and high-priced 2nd home owners 'close to Yosemite Natl. Park'.

    So, local 'thrift stores' are chock full O' everything, more so than city/urban stores. Whenever you go on vacation to areas known for outdoor sports it's worth your while to shop there 'plus our local thrift store is run by the Women's Hospital Auxillary group 'a Good Cause all around'.

    'and remember "? = another man's or woman's treasure!" GOD Bless!

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  12. Hate shopping too, even grocery shopping.
    Just before school starts, I do my school shopping. I buy a years worth of: soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, feminine products, shampoo, toilet paper, laundry soap, make-up, razors, cleaning supplies, and other items used frequently; along with non-perishable food items. This way when school is out for the day, I just head home and don't have to stop off anywhere. I then make my husband do the weekly shopping for the perishables.

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  13. As a thrift shopper myself I was amused recently about a woman that was trying to show others how to be green while looking trendy utilizing thrift stores. I wrote about it here
    http://doublenickelfarm.blogspot.com/2013/09/before-green-crowd.html

    Jennifer

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  14. In despise shopping, I have breasts and an arse all With a tiny waist, have you ever tried to get a pair of pants that fit a REAL woman (that's what I call myself)... Sigh and sometimes the styles, I am sorry I am a woman, not a hooker.. Oh and the most annoying, I you have to buy a XL top they automatically (designers) think you are huge and ugly and want the most discussing colors and color combos.... I prefer thrift shopping
    Especially when you get esigner clothes at a fraction of the cost!!!

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  15. I don't hate shopping, but I don't like it, either. Like driving, it seems to be a necessary evil.
    No Value Village or Savers stores here. And so far the Goodwill stores we've been in haven't had a whole lot going for them.
    We do often shop at Habitat ReStores, though, while working on our house.
    Have a great weekend!

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  16. I am fortunate to have a great thrift store, with a fitting room, right next to work. They are affiliated with a local rescue mission. They have decent prices and a great staff. The alternative format school I work for also gets newspapers donated to us, I then take them over to the thrift store a few days later so they can use them for wrapping material.

    I also have lost a lot of weight this past year (on purpose)and this was a great place for several temporary wardrobes. I then take what I have shrunk out of back to them as a donation. Talk about recycling. It's great.

    I also shop other thrift stores when I'm looking for specific items, and I do this while on vacation too. Was in San Diego for a race my DH was running, we hit the Goodwill in a nice area...score. I also hit a few favorites when we visit friends in Colorado, great cold weather items, cheap. I may live in SoCal, but it gets cold where I am, and because of the marketing area it is almost impossible to find cold weather clothing without having to spend a lot of cash.

    Oh, a couple of my best finds, an Anne Kline suit for work, $10, ski pants, $5, and a pair of flannel lined jeans, $3 (those are $50+ in catalogs). Lets celebrate being frugal.

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  17. I can echo many of the sentiments here. And I thoroughly LOVE the Shopaholic books. They are hysterically funny as are her other books. She is the master of the awkward situation; sort of I Love Lucy style comedy. I raised our children shopping at thrift stores, only one didn't take. But he's on his own now and his attitude has sure changed. We all get sticker shock in "real" stores.

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  18. I grew up in LA and now live in Northern CA and I HATE shopping. My mother made most of my clothes so I had everything custom made to my specifications and all at a great price. My idea of fun clothes shopping is sitting and looking at pattern books then walking through rows and rows of fabric. No trying on, over and over and over. I make most of the clothes I wear except for uniforms for work and jeans. I would hate to thrift shop because of having to try everything on! The funny thing is my husband loves to shop and on rare occasions he will force me to the mall, grab some sales gals, and pick out lots of clothes for me while I stay in the dressing room trying everything on. I find it very stressful but the worst part is when we get to the cash register. Happily, it hasn't happened since we started prepping though!

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  19. I am not a shopper either...avoid the mall at all costs! I do go to Walmart, but when I shop I have something specific in mind to purchase and get in and out. BUT I visit local thrift store couple times a week, always looking for that bargain! I was on a hunt for an old fashioned percolator, yard saling and all, and I went to local GoodWill and found 2! corning percolaters within 2 weeks! For under $5! (gave the second to my SIL, still looking to find a third for spare parts!) Thrift store shopping is a passion! Can't be beat! If I need new clothes for any reason, first place I look! I also agree w/others, that socks/underwear I buy new, but our local Goodwill has a supply of brand new socks, likely misprints or something like that, that I don't mind buying.

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  20. My wife has never been much of a shopper. Her favorite saying is that it puts her teeth to sleep. Two days ago she said she was going to the dollar store for some foam board and would be right back. 20 minutes later I received a call from her. She hadn't made it to the dollar store yet, but was next door in a Value Village, which she didn't know even existed. TWO hours later she arrived home with more clothes than I had ever seen her purchase, and said she had spent less than $25. Oh, she did get to the dollar store to get her foam board, but is really happy having found the Value Village. The household budget thanks her.

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  21. Although I do thrift shop, I am quite tall 5'11", so a perfect fit for me is hard. I can find jeans, but my tops need extra long sleeves so I have trouble finding these. What I have learned to do is buy excellent quality things on sale and they are lasting forever! I take shoes to our cobbler and they look fantastic for another ten years or so. I also cut down on the number of my things and use scarves, etc. for different looks. Rarely do I need anything new, because my mother taught me that if you take care of things, they will take care of you. I have had jackets and sweaters now for over 20 years! I do buy underwear about every two years and socks etc. on sale.

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    1. Me too....I'm 5'10" and wish I could find tops with sleeves that are long enough in thrift stores! What stores do you find your quality clothes on sale?

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    2. I live in Nebraska, and I can find good sales at Younkers. I have bought shirts for $7 in the men's department that I use for blouses, but my favorite trick is if a garment fits through the shoulders I can cut off the too short sleeves into 3/4 sleeves. I have also shopped at Christopher & Banks for shirts, but use the aforementioned trick for sleeves. They had a $5 and $10 rack sale in August and I purchased 4 garments for $20. My best find was 25 years ago at Younkers. I saw a $120 wool sweater coat that I would have paid full price for, but they did not have my size. On their $5 after holiday sale, I got the same sweater for $4.99 plus tax! I still wear it today. Mom got a $250 cashmere coat there for $7.
      I will admit that I do shop, but I only go to sale racks and stay for a short time.














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  22. My favorite thrifty store is a kids store. They buy gently used items and sell them for cheap. I was able to take in a bunch of toys and clothes that my kids had outgrown, and earn enough to buy this years clothing and some for next.

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  23. It's wonderful to know there are so many people that hate to shop!! And I was lucky enough to marry a man that also hates to shop! We keep a list of things we want/need from the store on hand, but we have been known to drive by the parking lot of the store and look at how many cars are in the parking lot. If we think there are too many, one of us usually looks at the other and says, "Is there anything on that list we really need?" The response is invariably, "No. Let's go home."

    It is a 30 minute drive for us to go to a store of any size and we like it that way. We do like to shop online, though. It's a good way to comparison shop and see who has the best price, or who has a good sale.

    Thanks, Patrice. It's nice to know those of us that hate to shop are not alone.

    Fern

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  24. We raised our boys in clothing from the Once Upon A Child chain (Ohio) and thrift stores. They received numerous hand-me-downs from friends who had sons as well; most of their NEW brand-name clothing came in the form of Christmas and birthday presents from grandparents (and us, occasionally). When I asked our older son where he wanted to go shopping for "new" school clothing, since he'd out grown all his other clothes, he said, "the thrift store." :-) I despise shopping for clothing -- and we only buy undies & socks & undershirts new (at discount stores like Walmart or Big Lots) and shoes (Meijer/Target/Kohl's), when on sale and if we have a coupon or other discount. I'm glad they're thrifty & have sticker shock when they see $80 jeans ("Mom! Do you know how much clothing we could get for $80 at the thrift store?!" Yes, sons, I know. :-)

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    1. My weakness is kitchen stuff, but i'm learning :-)

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  25. My daughter just got her first office job, so she needed appropriate clothes. She found a pair of gray wool pants at the local resale shop with the original department store tags still attached. They read $350! Who pays $350 for a pair of ordinary wool pants? Anyway, she paid $15. I was proud of her.

    We don't shop exclusively at thrift stores,but we don't have trouble resisting the "call of the mall" either.

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  26. Wow. I never knew so many other women hate shopping. I have always hated it and my friends and family are always flabbergasted when I tell them. My mom doesn't understand at all, she likes it. The only time I ever wanted expensive attire was when I was in public school, and that was just because everyone else had them. I don't give a rip about designer clothes just because they ARE designer. I'd rather have good quality, classic clothes that will last. Plus, you never know what you'll find in a thrift store. :)

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  27. Amen to thrift stores. Most of my three boys' wardrobe comes from Value Village or Goodwill. The exception I make (besides socks and underwear) is shoes. Shoes mold to your feet over time, and there's the issue of fungus... ew. I'd rather shop carefully for quality and get them new shoes.

    Besides, when I can get 10 pairs of jeans for about forty bucks, I can afford the shoes ;D

    The shopping maul just drives me nuts. Sensory overload, and very little I even want. *shudder*

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  28. "Don't your daughters ever long for shopping experiences in new shops?"

    That speaks volumes. Shopping right in the same category as real life experiences. That's just....well, I'm flabbergasted.

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  29. I am in absolute agreement about hating shopping, yesterday hubby took me to the grocery store and we checked the cost of bleach. I couldn't believe that a big bottle of clorox cost over $4 I commented to him that I now understand why he doesn't take me shopping, he's trying to save me from having a heart attack at the high prices.
    I also just love thrift stores, the prices are so much nicer and there is the bonus of not having sticker shock as you put it.

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  30. We love thrift stores!! The entire extended family knows we do the thrift store thing. When our niece was getting ready to move out on her, who did she call? She had a list of items she needs, #1 was a Keurig coffee maker, $200 at Walmart, we got her the same model for $25.00. Needless to say she was thrilled! The rest of her items were the normal every day things. She saved enough on her one splurge item to be able to purchase a lot of the every day kitchen items at thrift stores, of course.
    We keep a running list of items, number one is canning jars. our clothing, (except underwear & socks), kitchen items, bedding, towels, tools..... We are always amazed at what folks give away.

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  31. We love thrift stores!! Our extended family knows who to call when they are looking for a certain item. When our niece was getting ready to move out on her own, she called with a list of items. Number one was a Keurig coffee maker, list for $200.00 at Walmart, we got her the same model for $25.00. She saved enough on her one splurge item to out fit the rest of her kitchen, from the thrift store of course.
    We keep a running list of items, our number one item is canning jars. Along with clothing, kitchen items, bedding, towels, and the stuff you never expect to find.

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  32. Hi, You may try online shopping. That is easier and quicker, plus you can see more outfits than shop. I began online shopping in early 2013 when i joined a job. I realized how easy it is to shop online because i was unable to take out time for going stores and buy for me. I regularly purchase lovely salwar kameez, indian tunic tops from Ashika Fashion Wear. Here is the online store www.ashika.com
    Hope it helps to your daughters tooo.... :) :)

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  33. I am from a small town in Washington State. It takes me 1.5 hours to a major city which I rarely go. But when I go which is rare I found an amazing score of 3 boxes of canning jars for 10 cents quart size. I'm not much of a clothes horse but if there is an occasion to attend I make a trip to my favorite store Goodwill in Seattle which is amazing.

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