Sunday, January 6, 2013

Thrifting: It's In My Blood

If there's one thing that's been a part of my life and has been in my blood since birth, it's thrift shopping. Seriously, I don't kid! I like to think of myself as a "third generation thrifter." Maybe my great-grandmothers were thrifters--I don't know, I never really knew them very well. At least on my mother's side of the family, THRIFTING IS LIFE.

My Grandma Carolyn was really the impetus of it all. She thrifted during her whole adult life (she loved telling us how she was born during the Great Depression and that her family couldn't afford much). Why buy new when you could find something at a lesser price? The woman would even buy her appliances using cash, never credit!

When I was born in 1985, she started collecting dolls and cited me as her reason. Her collection, housed in her basement, grew into the tens of thousands. This was a childhood DREAM for me, especially after my parents divorced and we lived with Grandma and Grandpa for a while. I would play for hours and hours in that basement, though it sometimes creeped me out (they used to find me talking to no one sometimes).

Those dolls were bought at garage sales and secondhand stores. She used to take me through the basement rooms later on after we'd moved out so that I could point out the new dolls she had acquired since my last visit, and somehow I was always able to point out new ones. One of the saddest times of my life was the liquidation of her collection when she had to move to a nursing home due to her advancing Alzheimer's disease. I got several of the dolls, but they didn't make it through my mom moving and were lost.

Thrifting didn't just touch my grandma. My Aunt Carol has an estate sale business. She is THE. BEST. at making sure everything in the sale sells because that's what the families she helps really need. No one wants to be saddled with junk after trying to liquidate a house. Of course, they always chose items they wanted to keep before bringing her in to organize the sale. We've found some of the coolest stuff at her sales over the years.

My grandma and my mother indoctrinated me into the world of thrift shopping. One of my favorite places to go with them was the D. A. V. thriftstore on Central St. here in Wichita. That store is still there and smells the same. A lot of my childhood clothing came from such places.

Here's an example of what weird things you can find in thrift stores: One time, long ago when I was a child, my mother came up with the idea of putting the faces of children onto dolls' faces. She used me as a prototype, having my face printed onto cloth and then affixing it to a rag doll. It was really cute! She only made one doll of which I'm aware. The idea didn't pan out, and she gave it up. But then an undetermined amount of time later, while at a thrift store, we just happened to find a doll in a bin that had that same shot of my face on it! Not sure how that happened, if someone stole her idea and the image, but we bought the doll and displayed both of them together in my grandma's basement. Imagine going to the thrift store and totally by chance FINDING A DOLL WITH YOUR DAUGHTER'S FACE ON IT. JUST WOW.

Later in life, I liked to wear stuff I'd find at the local Goodwill store, even though I sometimes faced teasing from other students. Today, I rarely buy new clothing unless it's something I really like or underthings (I don't thrift those). The majority of my closet consists of items I got through "Girls' Night" exchanges or thrifted.

It's been nice lately getting back to "my roots" of thrifting. Feels so natural! If you want to buy some of my thrifted treasures, visit my Etsy shop!


Ok, UPDATE on this post: my mom says that one of my aunts and my grandma were the ones who started the idea of making dolls' faces into kids' faces, and they had a guy they were developing it with. But the project fizzled out, and the guy must have gotten rid of his prototype, which was the 2nd doll with my face on it. They just happened to find it out thrifting at the D.A.V. one day in a doll bin that my grandma regularly went through. Still though, FREAKING BIZZARE!!

1 comment:

  1. I don't know that I personally caught you talking with no one however, I did see you staring intensely at the closet while you were in the room nearest the bottom of the staircase.

    I am so sorry to read all those dolls got lost in the move, kinda shocking as there were so many!

    Garage Sales are great regarding the price on clothing and sometimes people will even let you try on clothes in their homes, kind of a hassle and sometimes they can't but if the price is right who needs to try it on. Aunt Carol and I would darn near weekly go Garage Saling, one never knows what treasures they will find, it's always a fun time!

    Love you!
    Aunt Sherry