Adventures in Thrifting & Thrifting Tips
Episode 1: “That’s a Little Spendy”
So those of you who know me probably know that I continuously find myself in the oddest situations. Some are hilarious, some are precarious, some are downright ridiculous. This episode of Adventures in Thrifting is about one of the funnier moments…
So. I’ll start by setting a bit of a foundation for the thrifting bug I’ve gotten lately. My fiance and I have found ourselves investing in a piece of ‘Merica. We did what we swore we would never do. We took the leap from humble apartment to house in the burbs, fenced in yard, nice little culls-de-sac, and that whole “apple pie” neighborly dream. I can’t think about the monthly payment or I’ll puke. SO instead, I focus on the fun opportunity to decorate a space that allows me to implement the decor that I have fallen in love with- Scandiboho. (Pinterest that if you want some inspo.)
Admittedly, the apartment we are currently renting is a steal at $1,400/mo. for Plymouth. Granted, it’s not a mansion. It’s a two bedroom, but not much room for our family of 3 people and 3 dogs, one of whom is the weight of a healthy man. We’ve outgrown it, and it’s not a permanent space. The ability to decorate is not really there, because I’m lazy. I know if I paint and do any improvements, I’ll end up having to go over said paint with primer and put everything back to the boring neutral colors it came with. I don’t feel like doing that. So, we sit here with everything kind of mismatched and although I’m not too proud for that, it definitely lacks any personality. I’m kind of a 150% person. I’m all in or all out. I wish I could change that but that’s a whole other issue. 😃
So, back to the new house. It is gorgeous. It will work nicely with the theme I’m going with. However, the problem with going with a new decoration style, is that you’re starting from scratch. This means I have nothing that will lend itself to the style I want. We found ourselves purchasing new bedroom furniture, new couches, new dining room table, and new accent chairs- not including the extra furniture we need for the extra bedroom. It’s like opening a window and throwing money out. I KNOW it’s kind of an investment, but it’s painful to watch money disappearing so quickly. This brings me to the topic of my blog.
I decided much of the decorating can be done with thrifting. The style is a mix of Scandinavian and Bohemian, so if you are familiar with this style, you’ll know that sometimes the worn and weathered look is a good thing. I love to get things at a deal price, and I like the thought of repurposing. I mean, I’ll spend money on a good bottle of wine but I like Goodwill and Turn Style and 1/2 off yellow ticket items. That’s another story though.
Thrifting is a lot of fun, there are so many interesting things that people get rid of. I love to just wander amongst the treasures and the oddities, but it’s funnest when you can bring a friend or two. I wish I could bring all of my friends, because I am friends with super fun people. Unfortunately, most of them are working day jobs. However, fortunately for me, one of my friends is going to school online, (thanks Covid) and has a pretty flexible schedule. Plus, she is one of my friends who is like a magnet for a good deal or a coupon or a discount. I’ve never met anyone like Melissa who has the inside track on the lowest possible price for absolutely anything on the earth. I consider myself lucky.
So now that I’ve laid a bit of a foundation, I’ll tell you that we have started thrifting every Wednesday looking for items to decorate the new house. Thrift stores and Goodwill change out inventory once a week and so we go and check this out to see if there’s anything I can use for decorating purposes.
Usually we hit up Goodwill, the main thrift stores and occasionally Michael’s because when they have sales, they have pretty good ones. We try and hit up new areas of the metro as well, because sometimes you just find different things amongst different areas of the Twin Cities. It’s true.
I’ll tell you what. I have a thrifting outfit. Melissa kind of does too. I’m not too proud to say it. We leave the fancy at home, and we wear comfy. It can get to be a long day, and so I end up with some kind of black tee shirt, black capris that are usually super soft, and my Birkenstocks. I have a muted orange cloth sling purse that I picked up at the Minnesota State Fair, and a pair of glasses that make me look like the grammy I am. Melissa usually has some kind of shirt with references to cats or crime. It’s not sexy, but it’s functional. We at least make sure we're showered so we don’t look like we've emerged from under a rock, and our clothes are clean… but looking at us, you might think we have $50 bucks max to spend. That’s the point.
A few weeks ago, Melissa and I ventured out of the Plymouth/Maple Grove area and decided to do it up and head to Minnetonka. There we encountered a unique thrift store called Bethesda Thrift Store (shocker). This thrift store was pretty freaking cool, everything was super organized and they had things there that I haven’t really seen at other places. This is where I found a cool sewing machine that was old as dirt, and was just begging to be stripped and stained or painted, and needed to be a focal point someplace in the house. You couldn’t read the price tag, but I was thinking in the neighborhood of $75 to $100. I passed over it at first because I was not spending that kind of money on something that was merely a decorative piece. Upon further investigation, we realized it was $49 and 75% off!!! This brought it down to $12.25, at which point it would have been a sin to have left it there. It is now sitting in my apartment dining room waiting to be loaded onto the U-haul to make it’s way to the Scandi house.
Riding the high from that purchase, we headed to another store in Minnetonka. As we made our way there, we drove slowly down the winding road and ooh’d and ahh’d at the gorgeous multi-million dollar homes along the roadside. We were in total amazement at these homes sitting on Lake Minnetonka, and along the way Melissa and I tried to guess what these people did for a living. I’m talking properties that are like nothing I’ve ever seen in Minnesota. The yachts, the docks, the Marinas with their cute sailboats, the shoreline, the mansions... all of which boasted a quiet but solid confidence letting you know in no uncertain terms that you would never, ever in your wildest dreams live there. As we journeyed down the road that twisted and turned delightfully, showcasing its treasures as breathtaking properties rose up from the perfectly manicured lawns and hedges, we started talking excitedly about the thrift shop we were going to. For sure this one would have amazing things and perhaps at a low cost! I bet there were philanthropists and generous souls getting rid of last season’s trinkets as they moved on to bigger and better! I was ready to drop the bulk of my budget at the next stop!
We pulled into the little parking lot at the shop, and I noted excitedly that there was furniture on the front porch of the store, and it looked like it was of nice quality. We donned our masks and made our way to the store’s entrance. I realized quickly that the pieces on the porch weren’t really what I was looking for, so I didn’t check them out in detail, I was more excited to see what was inside. Upon entering, we were greeted by a handsome and clean cut man in his late 20’s and an equally beautiful blonde girl who was probably in her early 20’s. Right off I thought, “Summer jobs. Cute.”
Five feet in, I immediately saw a small decorative credenza that would look ah-mazing in my extra space off the dining room! I grabbed the price tag… $229! What. The heck. Um…. No! Melissa and I both inhaled sharply and paused, taking the time to look up and around. Suddenly I was aware of my thrifting outfit. I was aware of my unfinished mermaid tattoo. I was aware of the fact I wasn’t wearing any makeup that day. I was aware of my cloth over the shoulder satchel carrying hand sanitizer, glasses, a random wallet and Kleenex. I was aware of my ill fitting worn too many times tee shirt. I was aware of the fact that I have a little white dog that sheds. I cringed inwardly and was pretty sure the expression resonated on my face outwardly. I noticed that the women in the store were dressed in classic, well tailored clothing, hair perfect, makeup on point, and their Louis Vuitton bags casually slung over their bejeweled wrists or shoulders. Nervously, I glanced over and saw that Melissa looked as shell shocked as I felt. I heard myself giggle stupidly and Melissa followed suit. We noted the prices of all of the ornate and quality furniture was waaaaay out of what we had considered spending.
By this time, we were 1/3 of the way into the store. There was no turning back now, it would look stupid to turn around and walk out. No, we had to press on, doing our best to act as if we belonged there. We did the obligatory discussing and admiring and “considering” (yeah RIGHT) and after what had to be the longest 10 minutes of our lives, mercifully found our way close to the exit.
Now. Don’t get me wrong… these people were nice. They were KIND. They were so wealthy, they were past the need to be condescending, which usually means old money. No. They were sweet and helpful and attentive. I kept deep breathing and couldn’t even look at Melissa. I was too busy making sure I didn’t stumble over my sandals. When we finally broke free and exited through the doors whence we came in, we made our way to Melissa’s broken in Rav 4, forest green and full of stickers vehicle, and silently got in. We both sat in our seats for a minute, processing the traumatic experience that was the Minnetonka thrift store.
Melissa looked over at me and I looked at her. I said, “Ok, I’m usually confident AF, but I feel kinda bad about myself.” Melissa cracked up laughing and said, “ME TOO!!! And I’m usually pretty happy with me!!” We both started laughing, at the same time I felt like crying. It was SO WEIRD!!! We both felt shook, rattled by the affect that place had on us.
Let me just quickly tell you, I belong to a group of friends that are confident. We are happy in who we are. We are unaffected by pretentious situations, or so I thought. What in the world just transpired? Melissa is one of the most matter of fact people I know, and this experience rattled even HER.
For the first time in a very, very long time, I felt like I didn’t belong. I felt like I was less than. I have NO idea where this was coming from!! Melissa echoed my feelings as she looked stunned and nervously laughed when she said, “I was SO aware of my ripped jean shorts and my tee shirt that says ‘Meow’.” I laughed rather hysterically at that- and noticed with affection that yes, her purple tee shirt did indeed say “Meow.” She and Kristen are my cat lady friends, and I love them…
We just started driving a bit faster than we arrived, perhaps trying to escape the shame and the horrible way we felt. I looked at Melissa and blurted, “It’s either alcohol or carbs Melissa. Pick one, and remember it’s only 1 in the afternoon.” We found ourselves at Arby’s. I hate Arby’s, but I knew my feelings would end up in the biggest carb massacre known to man in order to right myself. We ordered our food in the drive through, parked the car and proceeded to wolf down Classic Roast Beefs and curly fries. I think we talked, but with our mouths full of food and not a f*ck given. (Excuse my French, but that is honestly the only word I can use to describe this situation. Sorry mom and dad.)
When it was all over, we looked around at the aftermath. We both had to exit the vehicle and shake off outside because there were crumbs everywhere. I don’t remember the last time I ate like this, and neither did Melissa. However, since we’re big believers in laughing at ourselves, we broke out in gales of laughter and realized … it was A-OK. We were ok. It was ok and everything was fine.
I tell you this story because it made me think. In what world do we, as confident as we pride ourselves in being, lose our way and question our worth? Why would a simple visit to an upscale thrift store do this to us? I decided in the end it was the unexpected that really sent us reeling. Had we been prepared for the nature of this store, we could have been, well, "prepared." We are used to mismatched crystal treat bowls our grandmas had on the hi-fi, the crock pots and the Live Laugh Love wall hangings. We were comfortable with the velvet sofas and the 90’s style kitchen tables and mismatched chairs.
You see, even in our 40’s we can have these moments of uncertainty, where we are catapulted back into our teens when we didn’t know if we were “ok.” This means we are human. It feels good to be human doesn’t it? It’s ok to not have all the answers. It’s good to be reminded that we are always going to be a work in progress. No one has it “just right” 100% of the time. No one.
I appreciate my goofy ways. I love my goofy friends. It’s nice when we can be real with our people. It’s a sigh of relief when we realize we are not alone. It’s a gift to be able to laugh at ourselves and not take ourselves too seriously. It’s a gift to be down to earth, and know that it’s ok to make the effort to dress up a bit and go somewhere fancy-schmancy. There is a time and a place for everything.
So here’s my thrifting tip for today: When thrifting, make sure you have a purse or bag big enough to bring along your pride. Don’t leave home without it!
In the meantime, I keep thrifting, and look forward to every single adventure that awaits me around the bend…