Sunday, 26 February 2017

Confessions of a Thriftaholic

Disclaimer: This blog may not be suitable for some folks. You may find it tasteless and inane. You’ve been warned.

This is the third time I’m starting this week’s blog. The other versions are in the trash bin. And I’m not sure this one is going to survive to see the light of day. Nevertheless, I persist.

The other blogs were about a very serious(with a capital S) topic: how to set priorities.

But something weird is going on in my brain. I know setting priorities is a very important task, but what I really want to write about is, “Why I go shopping at Thrift Stores.”  Apparently, this is a priority for me, because I can’t pass up the opportunity when it arises – both the shopping and the writing about it.

See, I just had an unexpected score this week on Senior Tuesday at the local Sally Ann, and I really want to share that with someone. What’s a good deal if you can’t gloat about it and have someone pump their fist for you and say, “Good one!” ? I was just cruising the aisles when I saw this:

The painted pattern on this clock (which works perfectly, by the way) is called “Boerenbont,” a china pattern quite popular in Holland. Loosely translated, it means farmer’s colourful dishware. In other words, peasant pottery for the common folk who can’t afford Royal Doulton, or the Dutch equivalent thereof. In fact this pattern was developed in the 1800s by women who handpainted their chinaware, and is still in production today.

The latest version of boerenbont is all up-to-date for the modern home.
The common folk: that was us. We did have some lovely china mom and dad had received as a wedding gift, which we hardly ever used because it was too precious, but most of the time we ate off an assortment of unmatched plates and bowls picked up here and there – gas station giveaways, supermarket coupons, etc. Boerenbont china was only something mom talked about occasionally, with a dreamy look in her eyes.

So when I saw a piece of Boerenbont, a lonely teacup on a thrift store shelf many years ago, I bought it for the nostalgia factor. Over the years I’ve picked up a few other pieces at garage sales and flea markets.

And then this clock showed up: $4.49 minus 30% because it was Senior’s Tuesday. (This is your cue to pump your fist and say, “Good one!”) It joined my collection displayed on a shelf in the front hall. Thrift store chic!

I believe that “shopping thrifty” is a genetically determined trait. I inherited it from my parents. In one of the letters my mother wrote back to her family in Holland shortly after they had immigrated to Canada, she writes that she had visited a Salvation Army store and she was amazed at all the wonderful clothes they had there. Since post-war Holland had a shortage of almost everything, she bought dresses for her younger sisters and sent them across the ocean!

And I have a memory, too, of Dad coming home from a farm auction with dressers, beds, and boxes of odds and sods to augment our furniture and knick-knacks. We slept on those beds and stored clothing in the dressers for decades. The green depression glassware that was in the random-lot box now has pride of place in my sister’s display cabinet.

Speaking of sisters, the three of us can’t let a sister-week get-together pass without at least an afternoon of thrift-storing. What can I say: it’s a bonding experience. And while I won’t name them by name, I know I have relatives who enjoy this past-time, too. Sometimes we even get notes and photos showing the latest “score”: an old quilt top, a pair of Calvin Klein jeans, a designer handbag, all for a song. You just can beat the rush you get when you know you’re wearing or using something that others have paid top dollar for.

The big question is: really, why do people pay $150 for a pair of NAOT shoes if you can get them for $12.99 (good as new, no less) at VV – and if you shop on Tuesdays, you’ll get another 30% off because you’re a senior. Okay, I know: you’d prefer them in black, but you have no choice, they’re dark brown. Big deal, in a dimly lit room, nobody will know the difference. Or, you could just cruise the aisles and find yourself a pair of dark brown dress pants, and oh, what the heck, why not a jacket too? Live life to the fullest, eh?

As I write this, I realize that some of you are rolling your eyes. I do understand that this kind of shopping is not everyone’s cup of tea (even if it is served in a Boerenbont tea cup). But if you’re eager to hear about some of my other goodies, well then, come into my boudoir, my dears. Have I got something to show you!
This collection of salt-glazed pottery, most of which came off thrift store shelves, was started when I was gifted a jug by my mother-in-law. Lucky me!   

Mom used to drink from a tea cup like this. She probably picked it up at a yard sale. I missed seeing my mom's tea cup after she was gone, so years later jumped at the opportunity to buy this one at a thrift shop. Score!


  1. Love this. Just finished a baby quilt with thrift store flanalette you got.

  2. Oh Jessie! My mom shopped goodwill out of need [and a "score" which she saw as a direct love gift from God]. I can close my eyes and see the downtown Calgary Salvation Army Thrift store, smell the oiled wood of the floor, and hear the minder to take a good close second look at everything before you hit the cash register. Years after need is gone, I still love nothing better than a "find". This Christmas it was a 30' gnome couple to grace the fireplace. Who knows what treasures you may find?

    1. Rika, I love your descriptive prose -- I can see and smell that place, too. Lovely idea to think of a score as a love gift from God! My friend Joy also reminded me that another way to look at Thrift stores is that there are things of beauty everywhere if we just have eyes to see them. So I guess, although it's a stretch, thrift store shopping could be a spiritual experience!!

  3. Jessie, I am reading your Crow posts with such joy. Somehow I got the link a couple months ago. I'm not a good thrift store shopper at all; in fact, I'm thinking more these days about divesting myself of unnecessary items. But I'm impressed by the lovely things you have found--it is a shopping gene that missed me, I guess, or I'm too impatient, more likely!

    1. Rose! How great to hear from you. I'm glad you're reading me occasionally...that's a boost! One of my friends reminds me that SA suggests a lenten practice of divesting yourself of something every day in Lent -- and giving it to them, of course. Another, more radical friend, tells me to check out the whitehouseblackshutters blog, where the woman suggests 40 bags in 40 days! Phew -- maybe lunch bags???
      We have to catch up some time!