Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Thrill of Thrifting

refers to the act of shopping at a thrift store, flea market, garage sale, or a shop of a charitable organization, usually with the intent of finding interesting items at a cheap price.

Thrifting is like searching for buried treasure. The thrill is in the hunt and the surprises you find along the way. I usually thrift with a specific goal in mind, but it's also fun to thrift for the sake of thrifting. I first got into thrifting with my best friend Nicki when we were around 14 years old. Sometimes our good friend Patrick would join us in the hunt for cheap, cheap treasure. Patrick is no longer with us, but thrifting with him is one of my favorite memories.

Because of the special hunt that comes with thrifting, the things I've collected from thrift stores tend to hold special meaning for me. There's the vinyl copy of London Calling I found at the back of a used hippie store in Old Roseville (the only part of Roseville I find remotely tolerable). It was the first Clash album I ever bought, and there's something special about hearing The Clash in its original raw and pure form. Then there's my collection of bendy fabric flowers. My husband found these flowers in various colors on our first thrifting adventure very early into our relationship and bought them for me as the first flowers of any type he ever bought a girl (and that's not for lack of girls). Throughout the years, my collection has grown as my husband continues to find the flowers at thrift stores. I even have flowers four feet tall!

My husband and I braved the cold, wind and rain on Sunday for a trip down the thrift-strip of Fair Oaks and Manzanita. The thrift stores in Carmichael are great because a lot of really rich people live in the area and donate their clothing, but the stores keep the prices low to serve the varied community. You can usually find the same high-end designer jeans at Thrift Town that you'll find at that overpriced trendy used clothing shop.

I entered through Thrift Town's doors and wiped my feet on the soaked mat with one very specific goal: to find a black jean jacket to replace my beloved one that mysteriously disappeared. My 25th birthday is just around the corner, and that's what I really wanted. After coming up empty-handed at Country Club Mall on Friday, Thrift Town was the next logical step.

I weaved my way through the crowded aisles and headed straight to the wall of women's jackets. I reached my destination and there it was: a black jean jacket appearing to be my size, just waiting for me at the end of the rack. Not only did the tag confirm it was my size, but it was a pink tag, and pink tags were half off for the day. I tried it on and stared at myself in the worn mirror. It wasn't as stylish and not quite as perfect as my first jean jacket had been, but it was in like-new condition, cost just $2 and was very close to what I had envisioned.

I held onto the jacket and searched the racks some more, just in case my original jacket had somehow gone through a vortex and ended up at Thrift Town. I didn't find my old jacket or its doppelganger, but I did find another little black jacket that I had to try on it.

This jacket was lightweight, a crisper black and very stylish, although made out of a polyester blazer-like material. It was only $4. I took both home as early birthday presents and couldn't be happier about my good fortune.

I did have one smaller goal in mind when shopping: finding a sexy formal dress for my "forever young" birthday party where everyone dresses up as what as children they wished to be when they grew up. I had many lofty goals as a child, and the job I chose to dress up for involves such a dress.

I found the perfect dress after sifting through a long, color-coded rack at the Goodwill on Manzanita. When I came across this very formal, backless, slinky, satiny black number with rhinestones filling in the naked space between the breasts, my husband and I thought it would be too big, but I had to try it on just the same.

At first my upper half drowned in the dress, but then I realized that unless the dress had been designed for Anna Nicole, it was missing a clasp to pull in the breast of the dress. Once I held the straps in their proper place, the dress hugged my curves like it was meant to, and the dress fell to the perfect spot resting on my feet. Admittedly, I don't have the flat tummy a celebrity wearing the dress on the red carpet would have, but the dress made me feel like a star even with the extra pudge, and when I coyly stepped out of the dressing room for my husband to see, his eyes lit up and he broke out into his giant "my wife is hot" grin. The ladies at the cash register oohed and awwed over the dress and told me how stunning I will be in it. I can’t wait to unveil my $5 dress at my party.

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