Black Friday is over. Cyber Monday long gone. But they can be an everyday state of mind if you are a Thrift Shopping Maniac. Waterford, Coach, Valentino and Burberry, Samsung, Cuisinart, Le Creuset, Pottery Barn, Ethan Allen -- whatever the label, look or manufacturer -- could be lurking on the next shelf, the next rack, within reach, just around the next corner.
Compose & Maintain: Mental Gift Giving List.
Dedicate: Closet, shelf or bin for Mental Gift List Scores. This is your Accumulator Stash.
Eyeball: Every secondhand bin, shelf and rack through the prism of your Mental Gift List.
Buy: Only what matches/enhances your Mental Gift List. These are your 'Scores.'
Buy & Stash: Inexpensive thrift shop baskets, tins and boxes.
Ditto: Clear cellophane, wrapping paper, ribbon, cards and raffia ribbon.
Holiday? Birthday? Anniversary? Match gift to basket, etc. Wrap. Give.
Tip: Use thrift shop baskets, tins and boxes to 'tell' a personal, visual story.
For example: Place that beautiful thrift shop mug you found (in February) for that tea loving friend's birthday (in September) in a basket, along with a box of her favorite tea and some homemade cookies or store bought shortbread. Wrap it all up in that clear cellophane and fancy ribbon you scored (in June). Or: Using the same method, wrap that beautiful multi-compartment, wooden jewelry box you scored (in August), along with that lapis lazuli necklace you bought for your mom's birthday (in January) stashed inside one of the velvet lined drawers.
Tip: Save shopping bags. Plain brown to glamorous. Big and small. Collect your Scores in these 'Give Bags'. Enough? Staple shut. Attach/display downloaded full page photo of lucky recipient on front. Gather handles with ribbon or raffia. Et voila! Sustainable, personalized, signature gift giving all year long to friends, family and our planet.
Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and 'just because' gift giving just got easy (and inexpensive). And because it truly is "Better to give than to receive," please know that what you need will turn up too, eventually, along the way.
Here is what I have found at some local thrift stores:
Circle Thrift at 1125 S. Broad St. pushed my rule book (see below) to the limit. Climb down a gritty staircase (hold tight to the rail) opening up to reveal...bare bulb necessity. Bike riding millennials flipping hangers alongside bus commuting, bring-along-bag-toting grandmas, the original sustainable shoppers. Loooooud music blaring, clearly enjoyed by the young clerk at the register. Not my choice, but it acoustically elevates the energy of our surroundings. I work the aisles. Sure enough, I find some brand new, adorable mini skirts, size 6 and 8, flashing Banana Republic and Ann Taylor labels. But frankly, nothing for me. Possibly ever. In this anything and everything thrift shop, furniture and knick nacks are tatty and depressing. There was a box of LP's and shelves of books with potential. If I lived anywhere near this place, yes, I would venture in and shop. Linger? No. TSM Rule: Every consignment store (no matter how perfect) has room for improvement. Every thrift shop (no matter how lowly) has something going for it. Donations only. Second location: 2233 Frankford Avenue.
Find Circle Thrift in My Milkcrate here.
Uhuru. 832 N. Broad St. Center City residents seeking furniture in the burbs have a built in problem convincing suburban second hand outliers to truck in big heavy finds. Two stories high, situated on a busy Broad Street corner with City Hall in view, and a steady stream of incoming and outgoing curbside and in-store inventory, Uhuru could be your solution. Delivery (for a fee) is available. Donations are picked up for free. Tax deductible.
The staff are friendly and courteous. Furniture spans Victorian to contemporary. Tatty to fabulous. Potential refinish and remakes. Solid wood to plywood and cardboard backing. Stapled to dovetail. Household items and art scattered about, but this place is all about furniture. Make a purchase here? You are doing a good deed for yourself and others as this shop is Philly's first location in a growing national charity. Check out their website for more information. Tip: Train your eye. Google furniture making/woodworking basics. Window shop high end furniture stores. Watch Antiques Roadshow.
Find Uhuru in My Milkcrate here.
Gyration Boutique. 125 N. 11th St. Just like the signs plastered all over the corner storefront windows shout: this is definitely a high-end consignment store with aspirational, but head snapping, 'Hong Kong' prices. TSM RULE: Residents are the neighborhood consignment shop's 'buyers.'
Located on the periphery of Philly's Chinatown, it's women's only inventory is compiled from local closets, concentrated in sizes 0 to 6, tapering off at 8, topping off at 10 and 12, disappearing at 14.
Unfortunately, that leaves me out. Except for the 'trimmings.' Accessories, the best of the best, whether sunglasses, shoes, boots, scarves, belts, bags or high end jewelry, are encased in well lit, glittering glass display cases. All very glamorous and beckoning till you hold the desired object in your hands, and check out the appropriately commensurate price tags. Ouch!
Ditto the pristine, beautifully displayed, clothing. The shop business card boasts: Gold, Diamonds, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Chanel, etc. The sales person was diffident. I came. I roamed. I left.
If you, however, wear a The Devil Wears Prada size, and are a confirmed, well-heeled, second hand fashionista, put this shop on your go-to list, and skip retail shopping on your next trip to Hong Kong.
Find Gyration Boutique in My Milkcrate here.
Next: Join us for a day of second-hand shopping as the Thrift Shop Maniac and the My MilkCrate team travel to the burbs...