Why am I still freaked out by thrift stores?

When I was growing up, my mom used to love shopping at thrift stores, and still does. I, on the other hand, used to not love it so much. Actually I found it an icky and traumatizing experience. Dreaded it.

Of course now, it’s kind of part of the blogging deal, right? That’s just something we like to do. Treasure hunting and fixing up old, neglected things. I’ve brought home many, many great finds from thrift stores in the last few years and have even had a great time out hunting for cool junk with my mom.

But until recently, I hadn’t been in over a year. They say you should pop in every week so you don’t miss out on a great find, but I find that every time I go, I come back with boat loads of fun stuff. So that’s part of the reason I hadn’t been. I just bring back too much clutter. And spend way too much, even though it’s all relatively cheap.

The other reason is that I’m still a little freaked out by thrift stores sometimes. I know we all do it, but when I go in, I always feel like everyone’s watching me. “What’s she doing here? This isn’t a place for her.” “Why is she pacing up and down the aisles like that?” And what if I run into someone I know in this small town on my way in? How do I explain what I’m doing? “Oh, I know I should be home weeding the garden and mopping the floors or maybe doing something normal like filling up the gas tank, but I really just like to go dig through other peoples old smelly junk. For fun!” I know to you and me, that sounds like the best time ever. But I still feel like “normal” people don’t do that.

So anyway, wanna see what I found?

I found the jackpot is what I found! I’m pretty sure that, in this town, they’ve not yet clued into all the amazing stuff we’re finding in their stores because the prices were dirt cheap compared to what I’m used to in the city.

The top of one of those brass clocks everyone used to have, used as a makeshift cloche here: $1.99

Cake stand (oops, water spots!) and glass dome: $4 and $2.

Blue willow plates 69 cents each.

Blue and white bowls: 99 cents each.

Not too bad for one quick little trip.

Yeah, so maybe I’m not just like all the people in the thrift stores I see around here. And maybe I’m not doing what all the “normal” people are doing all the time. For this, I think I can get over it!


  1. says

    I know what you mean about coming out with boat loads of stuff if you visit too often. But aren’t they wonderful! How great is it to find something that makes you feel good and then to find out it’s only 69 cents!

    Great pieces, especially the plates.

  2. says

    I love finding treasures in the thrift store! Looks like you found some treasures, too – love the cake stand and blue dishes. What is nice about thrift store shopping is that you can re-donate once you get tired of something! You are donating to a good cause and you get to re-decorate often! xx

  3. says

    I used to feel the same way about thrift store shopping and even yard sales and would almost always buy everything new. I just couldn’t cope with owning someone’s USED stuff…it was like ooooh gross! And the thought of someone seeing me there at THOSE places, yeah not cool, but then I grew up. Yeah, so what if someone spots me in a thrift store scoring a bargain. And so what if someone else no longer wants that good used stuff. I’ll take it. It’s still good stuff, and what’s better is now I feel as if I am doing my family a huge favor by shopping thrift and yard sales. I am saving our hard earned money for better things, like vacation!

  4. says

    I really need to duck into some thrift shops and see what I can find. I used to when I was younger, but I haven’t in years. You found some really beautiful things for so cheap!

  5. says

    You mentioned going through other people’s smelly stuff, that was why I’d never been to a Goodwill till a week or two ago. And we have more Salvation Army stores regionally. My allergies are so sensitive to any stuffiness I can’t go into a lot of places. I used to sit out in the car while hubs went in. His wardrobe is mostly Salvation Army, lol Janet

  6. says

    We have an upscale Goodwill that has a bookstore where fiction is organized alpha by author. Also it has a coffee shop that sells excellent homemade food and pastries. You might like it. I just did a post on their cupcakes. Love the cloche and blue willow. When I thrift I just think I am smarter than all those folks paying full price for stuff in retail stores and at the mall or in antique stores.

  7. Anonymous says

    I know what you mean about feeling weird about shopping in thrift stores. But here’s what you need to think about. It is really helping a charity when you buy there. It gives people jobs and the money goes for good things. And…you are upcycling goods which is good for the environment, right?! So, see it is a good thing. Michele

  8. says

    Oh I have to agree; I was so like that until a few years ago. Then I started donating, and after a few months also began visiting thrift stores. They have really changed in the past few years. I too at first thought I shouldn’t be parking my new car in front, or wearing a leather jacket while shopping there… felt “out of place”. Now there are huge crowds and no one gives anyone a look like they are not welcome.

    I mean, where else would I find silver sugar tongs for 49 cents and a silver creamer for 2 dollars? I LOVE my local Goodwill!

  9. says

    Thrifting is the new normal! As the secondhand good industry grows in leaps and bounds, bringing us more consignment shops, junk shops, antique malls, antique and craft fairs, vintage shops, the fact is that WE have become the norm! Not THEM! Rejoice and celebrate for we are all one with the thrift! You go grl!!

    Great finds, btw. What small town are you shopping in?

  10. says

    Well, if your thrift stores pricing is how many seem to be – they’re not that ‘thrifty’ anymore. We have people shopping ours that come in a Lexus – so I’d say – ‘no worries’. But don’t thrift just to keep up with the blogging Jones’s – be yourself and have fun!

  11. says

    I love your “wit”! I’ve always enjoyed finding “hidden treasures”…but, I’ve never felt the need to rush out to the thrift store, yard sales, etc. every week. I do frequent them on occasion; but, I’m like you…I tend on bringing in a lot at one time :) I try to “pace myself”… You got some wonderful buys! Especially the cloche and the dishes…WOW!!! Thanks for sharing and linking up with us @ Toot Your Horn Tuesday!


  12. says

    I love thrifting, but never did as a child. My Mom would never be caught being in a thrift store. It is a lot of fun. You found some great finds. Thanks for sharing over at Sunday’s Best.

  13. says

    I totally understand how you feel about thrift stores. It’s always a weird combination of can’t wait to go/feeling self-conscious or awkward when I’m there. I love that cake stand and I’m a little jealous of the rice china (the blue and white bowls are called that because when you hold them up to the light, it shines through those little indents and looks like rice). My mom has a big rice china collection and is always looking to fill it in. Great finds!

  14. says

    Know exactly what you mean. I used to think I was buying things right out of the hands of those who needed it, but realized they wouldn’t be buying the things I was buying anyway. I also realized that my purchases also help out a lot of people, plus I donate things all the time. I don’t go as often as I probably should to really score some great finds, but that’s okay, too.

    I saw on a blog one time how the person had taken a dome like the one you bought, & used a glass rock (from Hobby Lobby) as the handle to create a cloche. She used some kind of epoxy for bonding glass together. Just an idea!

  15. says

    I’m glad you’ve changed your mind! I love going to thrift stores so much, my whole blog is centered around it! LOL. I hope you continue to find cool stuff. Don’t worry about what others think–Just have fun!

  16. says

    My Grandmother bought me those plates when I got married in 1980. I had admired her mother’s 100 year old Blue Willow plate that she hung on the wall so often. A thrift store owner came to pick up a piece of furniture after Grandma passed and took the plate. My own plates were lost in a move. You inspired me to try to find them on e-bay.

  17. says

    I know what you mean, we have a Goodwill and I used to be afraid that I’d see someone but now I don’t care one bit! Great scores!

  18. says

    I too am a little creeped out by thrift stores. I have a very nice one close by that I visit about once a month and 1 Goodwill that’s also very nice. When I’ve ventured elsewhere I’m always sorry. You got some great things this trip!

    Robin Flies South

  19. says

    I have only been to thrift stores about 3 times in my life. I don’t know why I avoid them. I am probably missing out on some real finds because people come from all over to visit some of the thrift stores in my town. I think I will put go to a thrift shop on my summer project list.

  20. says

    My son feels the way you did when you were a kid. He once looked around our living room and proclaimed (in a voice dripping with disgust): “Everything we own is used. Even our DOGS are used!” Yep, got ’em on craigslist! I hope he doesn’t mind too much, but I don’t think he’ll ever embrace my thriftiness. I used to feel much like you, too–until necessity opened up a different way of consuming for me. Don’t think I’ll ever go back now.

  21. says

    Good for you! You know, I think that bloggers and blog readers have made thrift store shopping completely “normal”!

    Thanks so much for joining Grace at Home!

  22. Vicki says

    Oh, wow, do I know what you mean about being creeped out by thrift stores. My whole life, and I’m loads older than you are, my mom would go to thrift stores, garage sales and HAVE garage sales. I always thought it was tacky, tacky and, instead, I only wanted the new and shiny. HOWEVER, once I inherited a vintage cottage which we lovingly did (and are still doing) our best to renovate, much like you and your husband, I became enthralled with the quality of old construction and the stuff they used to make for houses, not just hardware but the whole thing; for instance, my 1920s-era kitchen, which remains largely 1920-esque because we ran out of money(!)…I just can’t put too much modern stuff in it; doesn’t look right! And I had a great-aunt whose entire load of possessions (wonderful, vintage, unique collectibles and also beautiful linens, quilts) was dumped by an uncaring Trustee, which bothered me so much that I threw up…except to finally realize that no matter where and in whose hands her treasures ended up, it was with people like you, and now even me, who seek out the worn/loved items of someone’s past, only to treasure them ourselves in a new way. We are, in fact, the “rescuers.”

    I’m not saying I make a beeline for every secondhand store…I still can’t take the smells sometimes…but I guarantee I’m grateful for everything my mom collected and I’m only resisting the lure of every “garage sale” sign I see because, until I get rid of other clutter, I can’t bring more in or else I begin to look like a hoarder.

    I’m brand-new to your blog, and I like it. Will be back! I think your home is awesome. I know you can’t tell us where it is, for reasons of privacy, but I’m so intrigued, especially when it seems the ocean/lake(?) is not too far away either. You keep that for yourself…you’re sharing all the right things with your readers, enough as it is, and I’m looking forward to going back thru your archives and seeing the progression of your new farm life.

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