Sixteen years of Treehouse talk

Sixteen years of Treehouse talk

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Thrift Talk, Part Two: When You've Lost Your Mojo

It happened again this week. I thrifted an otherwise-nice blouse that turned out to be too tight under the arms.

Blame the lack of fitting rooms. 

Maybe I should just stick to non-clothes for awhile. After all, I did a good closet-clean-out-and-fall-check-in recently, and I could really get along for quite awhile without buying much. I was given a few donations by a daughter, and I also have a few colder-weather things I found at the end of the winter that got stored and sort of forgotten.

But it can be frustrating to feel like you're on an un-roll. How do you win back your thrifting confidence?

Well, consider first of all that you might already have enough stuff. Really. Because if you're looking for something you really need, like a pair of jeans when your last ones are wearing out, you're more apt to put your heart into looking, care more about what you find and get it right, than if it's a random blouse. The blouse was mostly my fault: I should have looked more carefully at the size tag, I was probably going too fast. Sometimes choosing something quickly is okay, but other times it's a sign that you're just adding too much to your salad bar plate. There are definitely times to take a break.

If you have a bunch of things that you've already thrifted (or yard-saled, or swapped) and haven't really used, this is the time to dig them out and give them some appreciation. I read somewhere recently that buying something brings a certain commitment along with it. By buying a book, you're showing that you have the intention of reading it, right? You buy a game, and that implies that you want to play it; a puzzle, that you want to put it together; some fabric, that you like it enough to want to sew something from it. You buy the bread machine or the smoothie maker because you want to make pizza or drink healthy green things. So have you done those things? That's not meant to be a guilt inducer, but a fun, creative-juices approach that might make future thrifting a little clearer. If you use the fabric to sew doll clothes or pillows or stuffed toys, that might give you ideas for future projects that also need fabric, or trims, or patterns, or sewing gadgets. But if you can't bring yourself to pull out the materials and make something, that's a good sign that your sewing days are done: don't buy more.

You can switch to a different category of things to look for. I never used to look at table linens much, but over the past couple of years I have put together a collection of placemats, napkins, and runners, plus assorted candles and holders, because my husband and I enjoy making dinnertime a daily "event," even if it's just leftovers. This turned out to be a good thing when we weren't able to go out to eat for a long time.

You could help somebody else thrift, or library-sale, or whatever it is you do best.

If you have enough self-restraint, you could look at things and learn about them, but don't buy anything. Look at the art up on the walls, or the silent-auction or other premium things you usually pass by. Enjoy looking at the colourful dishes, even if you'd never use egg-cups or Bunnykins bowls. That's pretty much what I do when we visit antique markets: occasionally I buy something, but most of it is just looking, admiring (or not), helping my husband look for old radios, and remembering an uncle who liked clown pictures, a neighbour who had those same funny canisters on her counter, or a friend who had that coveted Barbie carrying case (but I had the Country Camper). Patience pays off: we looked at and said no to a lot of old chairs before we came across the ones we bought last month.

So, yes, in the end, patience is probably the big thing. Keep looking, and stay open to adventure.

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