Younger Daughter has been sorting through some clothes recently, selecting some to give away. In one of those "one thing leads to another" conversations, we both agreed on the superior quality of thrift store clothing.
Oddly enough, despite its reputation, thift-store clothing is usually of higher quality than that found in new-clothing stores. Why? Because it's withstood the test of time. It's been through the wringer already, and is still tough enough to be sold as usable. With judicious selection for style and fashion, thrift-store clothing can last many years.
People donate clothes to thrift stores for a wide variety of reasons. They may have outgrown the garment, or it no longer suits their taste, or they're just discarding older clothes to make room in their closet. But the one thing you seldom see in thrift stores are clothes that are worn, torn, or stained beyond redemption.
That's because thrift store employees are smart. They weed out the garments too battered to resell. As a result, the clothes displayed on the racks, while perhaps not up in the latest fashion, are not worn out.
Of course, this assumes you're not bitten by the "fast fashion" bug, wherein you must always wear the latest style. (That is SO not me.) Besides, "vintage" clothing is now fashionable, right?
But thrift stores supply so much more than clothes, of course. I remember one time I was in need of laundry baskets. (I prefer the wicker ones.) I kept my eyes peeled and, sure enough, hit the jackpot a few weeks later with a bunch of wicker laundry baskets in excellent condition for pennies on the dollar.
website selling the basket -- new -- for $59.99. Ouch.)
Aside from such benefits as cheap prices and minimal packaging, thrift stores provide variety. So much of what we use every day, everything from laptop cases to pots and pans to couch throw pillows to canning jars to books, come from thrift stores (or other thrifty options such as yard sales). In fact, true story, I believe the only new furniture we have in our home is our couch/loveseat set we bought in 2004. Everything else came second-hand or was built by Don.
Older Daughter, now working as a live-in nanny in upscale suburban New Jersey, has discovered green living. Having grown up in a "green" home where we "disposed of disposables" years ago, where we compost and recycle and re-purpose and shop in thrift stores, at first she relished the novelty of new stuff. While she is diligently saving an enormous portion of her paycheck, she splashed out and had some fun with her income, buying clothes and books and things she enjoyed. This is perfectly normal and understandable. When you're raised on a tight budget and then suddenly earn enough money to play, you go a little crazy.
But now the novelty is fading, and Older Daughter is looking around at the wasteful habits of the suburban neighborhood around her and becoming appalled. She's learning that green living (without the requisite militant green attitude, of course) is frugal, thrifty, and sensible. She's exploring a zero-waste lifestyle. It's kind of fun to watch her grow in this area.
Raising kids with a thrift-store lifestyle has beneficial long-term repercussions when kids become adults. Essentially, Older Daughter is returning to her green roots, though she's limited in what she can do in an urban environment (i.e. garden, raise livestock, etc. -- even composting is not permitted in her suburb) or with a family addicted to prepackaged snacks and meals. While she may not be able to influence the wasteful habits of her live-in family, she can at least adjust her own actions.
So her legacy of bulk buying, scratch cooking, and of course thrift stores will serve Older Daughter well in her adult life.
Yep, thank God for thrift stores -- the truly "green" way to purchase household necessities.