back in the thrifting game, maybe

Thanks for all the blog recommendations! I'm going through them all now. I'm making some interesting observations about myself and my online reading, but more about that later, because first I want to share this super funny post with you from Mandi at Vintage Revivals, Is my thrift store better than yours? No! No, it's not. And they all stink. Well maybe somewhere thrift stores are still magical forests of hidden treasures but I'm accepting my truth, not around here they're not!

I've been trying to decide if there's any thrifting left in me. I was pretty certain there wasn't but maybe I've been too harsh. I've definitely gotten used to grief cycles when it comes to thrifting. I remember buying velvet hats from the 1920s at the flea market for the change in my pocket when I was in high school. I remember entire racks of 50s printed floral sweaters at the Ragstock when I was at UW. I remember when I first heard about ebay and could still find vintage dresses for $10. Or feedsack fabric! Tim and I managed to recreate our entire childhood toy collections at garage sales and estate sales. Before we had Oscar I had a vintage clothing resale business. I lived in Chicago and would spend my days at the Village Discount & Unique buying giant garbage bags of vintage clothing to resell on ebay. These last experiences in the city are my most vivd, semi-recent, thrifting memories and the ones that make me not even want to bother out here in the suburbs. But I'm doing the math and realizing this was 12-15 years ago! I need to be done grieving and move on.

vintage kids knits

As the kids grew my thrifting just naturally dwindled, while at the same time forces in the world converged to make thrift stores into garbage heaps. Clothing wholesalers sell the best finds to vintage & antique dealers. And even in small church shops donations don't seem to make it from the back to the front of the store free and unedited anymore. 


I'm not sure what I'm even looking for (besides an amazing midcentury sofa) at thrift stores anymore. I started passing on every vintage childrens book at the used book sales because I already had them in my collection. I've sent the 70s fisher price toys to the attic. I have more fabric than I can store. I don't wear vintage clothes and I buy the kids' second hand stuff at the stores that specifically do that. But I miss it! I am ready for the next cycle. I've made a list of shops to hit and I'm excited to see what I can find and determined to not be a thrift cynic. Wish me luck!


9 thoughts on “back in the thrifting game, maybe

  1. Teresa says:

    I remember those days! Was it really 10-15 years ago? You’re making me nostalgic. I always loved seeing all your thrift store finds. Do it!

  2. Heidi Sue says:

    30 years ago the thrifting was even better than that! 60’s concert t-shirts and original bell bottoms for a quarter. oh, don’t get me started on the 50’s party dresses and old crinolines. now? it’s all old navy and gap cast offs. i find all my best stuff at estate sales now, but i know that will dry up eventually too. how cranky do i sound?

  3. Sarah says:

    Ten years ago I stumbled on your blog, saw your thirifted vintage fabric (thrift craft anyone?) and fell in love. It’s been my crazy passion ever since. 🙂

  4. Becky says:

    Thrifting is definitely hit or miss, but every once in a while, I’ll feel the call and am never disappointed. I don’t go looking for vintage as much as gently used gems. My last good thrift day I scored myself a Talbots winter coat ($3) and a divine J. Crew green leather handbag ($3) among other treasures that day. I squealed all the way home.

  5. LizA says:

    The mindset behind thrifting has truly changed. What once was something done in the name of helping those in need is now retail, retail, retail (I’m looking at you, GoodWill).
    There are still some interesting items, but little “vintage” that I run into. We experienced several years where fire took out many family’s homes, and GoodWill gave out vouchers to help them restart their lives. Many of those folks were the people who regularly upgraded their homes/clothing, and would donate. It was a rugged Catch-22 of nothing coming in, everything good going out rapidly. We’ve luckily started to get back to “normal” except that the economy still means people are hanging on to things a little longer. What isn’t good for shoppers like us is probably better for the landfills in the long run 😉

  6. Jody says:

    Having low expectations at the thrift store keeps me more level headed. Then when I do find something, it’s so exciting! The fabrics you show in the photos remind me of my own children’s clothes. Fun.

  7. says:

    Yes, yes, yes! I remember early to late 1990s thrifting–ahh, the bounty! I wore thrifted 1920s camisoles with vintage Levi’s and 1960s leather belts to school and scored vintage 1950s party dresses for school dances. Those were the days! I still go occasionally but never find much. The best luck I have is usually in small towns on road trips.
    PS…I remember Thrift Craft, too 🙂

  8. Katherine | Gathered Heart says:

    This is so true! I am disappointed every time I walk into a Goodwill (Salvation Army is a little better but still disappointing) other than maybe scoring some vintage sheets for fabric. All my steals are now scooped up in garage sales, and those are seasonal. 🙁

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