How I Thrift: Patrice J. Williams

looking-fly-on-a-dime-thrifty-threads-midi-skirt-with-a-split-606x1024I was thrilled to get an interview with today’s subject, Patrice J. Williams, whose thrifting advice book, Looking Fly on A Dime, is available from Amazon. I found her through her blog of the same name, which features thrifty fashion tips as well as pics of great outfits she’s thrifted in her home base, New York City. She always looks great, so you know she knows what she’s talking about. If you want to start thrifting but aren’t sure how, pick up a copy of her book!

1. When did you first start thrifting, and why?

My mom tells me I loved thrifting as a child, but I don’t remember that. My first recollection of thrift shopping was my sophomore year of college at Temple University. I needed an outfit for an induction ceremony but had nothing to wear and I was too broke to buy something at a department store. I stumbled across a thrift shop and immediately found a brown top and faux suede pencil skirt that was perfect. Since then, I’ve been hooked.

2. Where do you thrift shop? Specific recommendations in your area would be great!

photo-7-1024x969I love thrifting throughout NYC, including at the Salvation Army on 46th street, which is super organized and a place I always find cute dresses and vintage blouses. My go-to for serious bang for my buck is Housing Works’ Buy the Bag in Brooklyn, which sells an entire bag of clothing for $25 per bag. I also recommend Udelco’s vintage warehouse in New Jersey where the clothes are organized in bins based on decades and styles.

3. What are some of your best finds?

photo-5-1024x892One of my favorite finds is an emerald pleated vintage dress. It was less than $10 and I found it in a small town in Ohio, which proves you don’t need to live in a big city to find amazing secondhand goods. My all time favorite piece is a Christian Dior vintage double breasted coat I bought for $23 last year. It’s a statement making piece that’s perfect for cold New York winters.

4. What kinds of things do you try to buy used?

looking-fly-on-a-dime-christian-dior-red-coat-682x1024I try to buy most things thrifted, besides underwear, of course!  Some of my favorite pieces include dresses, vintage blouses and jumpsuits. Also, if there’s a trend I’m on the fence about, I try to find it at a thrift shop and play around with making it work before investing too much in a trend I might not love or wear for years to come.

5. Are there any items that are a particularly good deal in your area?

thrift-shop-style-what-i-wore-vintage-dior-1024x945I’ve always found a mixture of everything in the New York tri-state area. But I’ve always found amazing deals on vintage secretary and pussybow blouses.

6. Do you have any general tips for anyone without much thrifting experience? Any warnings?

My best tip for new thrifters would be to have realistic expectations. You’re most likely not going to find the garment of your dreams during the first 10 minutes of your first thrifting trip. But with a bit of patience and repeat visits, you’ll find what you want and need. The only warning would be to avoid buying something just because it’s quirky and/or cheap. You’ll come across a lot of stuff like that but if you don’t really love it, leave it behind because you’ll end up with a closet full of garments you don’t really want and it’s easy to overspend.

7. Anything else you’d like to add?

I love thrifting so much I wrote the book on it. Looking Fly on a Dime: How to Find Fabulous Fashion at Any Thrift Shop & Make the Cheap Look Chic breaks down the do’s and don’ts of secondhand style. I really wanted to debunk the myth that thrift shopping is dirty or hard to do. Anyone can thrift!

Thanks so much, Patrice, and happy thrifting!


Get Schooled: Donating School Supplies

11329_10151273967446883_567756184_nIt is fairly widely known that public school teachers, who are seriously underpaid in many regions of the U.S., often incur the additional expense of buying school supplies for their classroom. These supplies can include everything from maps on the wall, to pens and pencils, to backpacks. Thankfully, a number of organizations have sprung up in recent years to collect school necessities and 11755891_10153073562145698_7240958482096150632_ndistribute them free to teachers. I talked with a few of them — Sinead Chilton from Schools on Wheels (SOW) in Los Angeles, California, Alice Forbes from Schoolhouse Supplies (SS) in Portland, Oregon — to get the full scoop on their donation process. They have fairly similar wish lists, though Schools on Wheels takes fewer used items than most such organizations.

1. Who uses your program?

12036409_10153189456450698_2892901302398421420_n(SS) Schoolhouse Supplies’ Free Store for Teachers is open to every teacher in the Portland Public Schools (PPS) district, and to a broader network through our Volunteer Voucher program. As of June 2015, Schoolhouse Supplies has provided school supplies valued at $23.4 million to help students succeed, over $4 million in pencils alone.
(SOW) Our program is open to homeless youth living in shelters, motels, cars, on the street and in group foster homes.

2. What are some unusual items that people might be surprised to know you accept?

12039718_10153189456630698_1090389635268598420_n(SS) We accept toys and prizes such as small games, novelty pens, etc., that teachers can use for  incentives to motivate students.
(SOW) Every year one of our longtime donors knits beanie hats for our students using leftover wool that come in all colors. The kids love them! We also accept gently used books and textbooks, including reference books, history and geography books, and children’s classics. We also take used calculators, scissors, office furniture and supplies.

3. What do you get offered a lot that you can’t use?
(SS) Old textbooks and romance novels.
(SOW) Used school supplies and backpacks. We only give our students new school supplies. It is especially meaningful for homeless kids to get new items because they don’t have the luxury to go shopping for new school supplies. Being able to give a student a choice between brands and designs really makes them feel empowered and start the school year on the right foot.

4. What would be an example of a dream donation?
(SS) Our need for art supplies is always high. Bank of America is generously matching the value of any cash or product donations made to the art aisle between now and then end of the school year, so those would be especially appreciated!
(SOW) Everything a student needs for the whole school year. We also accept used laptops (2009 or newer). It’s very hard for students without access to technology to complete their assignments.

Thanks so much! I hope you will keep organizations like these in mind throughout the school year. If you have a potential donation that you think might be useful to teachers near you, contact the closest such organization near you and ask!

Thrift Store Review: Treasure Island in Canoga Park

treasureisland_smallI had high hopes for Treasure Island, which appears to have taken the former spot of Rummage Rat on Sherman Way in Canoga Park, based on its name. Unfortunately, Treasure Island failed to deliver on its implied promise of parrots, adventure, and, most critically, treasure. While ‘treasure’ might be a high standard, perhaps that term might be more suited to a store that did not think it appropriate to charge up to five dollars for a used DVD or sell a used fax machine at all. I found it particularly annoying that almost no prices were marked, forcing you to ask whenever you wanted to know how much something was. Their combination of messy thrift store vibe and antique store prices was a serious mismatch.

Overall rating: C-

santasmarchingband_smallThe coolest thing I saw in there was this Santa’s Marching Band, which, when plugged in, played songs by ringing the bells in turn on each individual marcher. However, they wanted $120.00 for it, and a quick search of ebay shows that it is not that rare and many sets are available for half that or less. I got the distinct impression that Treasure Island was run as if in some pre-Internet reality when shoppers could not always easily find a comparable vintage item, so pricing was often skewed.

Normally I recommend categories of items to buy at stores I review, but I can’t wholeheartedly recommend anything here. Here are two possible categories to consider under very specific circumstances.

green_phone_smaller1. Phones. Hey, maybe you’re actually looking for a landline phone. The thing is, you can get a pretty generic new one from AT&T for $15, and a full-size one with caller ID and everything for $20. Theirs ran from $5 – $20. The green one shown here was $20! (It is pretty cute, but whatever.) Because the technology has not changed, it’s conceivable that you want a super cheap phone for infrequent use for $5, and, if so, you might want to stop by.

controllers2. Videogames and consoles. Based on the rest of their pricing, I doubt anything was an especially great deal, but if you happen to be looking for something specific and find it easier to shop in person, it might be worth stopping in.

What to avoid:

lamps_smallerLamps. The guy at the store quoted me a range of prices for lamps between $65 and $100, and there wasn’t a single lamp in there worth that. Most didn’t even have shades. I was told these two gold-toned ones with shades in the back row were $100 each, which is a pretty absurd price for a used lamp that has no particular vintage appeal. You could get a ton of modern lamps that are comparable or even better new from Lamps Plus. This is especially galling when Council Thrift next door had many nicer lamps which were all a lot cheaper. You can generally count on getting a usable lamp with a shade at Council Thrift for $25.

butter_dish_smallDishes. They didn’t have a lot of dishes, but this butter dish which is not of particularly good quality was $5.00, which is way too much. Again, this is bad pricing is especially conspicuous since you can simply go next door and have a much wider variety of dishes available to you at a much better price point.

And almost everything else.

IMG_20151011_133408241DVDs were between $2 and $5, especially galling since the next day I saw new DVDs at Target for $4.75 apiece (obviously they might not be the movies you want, but the point stands.) Vinyl records were between $2 and $5 each. Since none were marked, it was too much trouble to figure out what they thought was worth $5, but I truly hope it didn’t include the Flashdance album I saw. Given that the collection was clearly a random selection and not curated at all, that is well above the standard thrift store price of $1 each.

treasure_Island_smaller2In short, Treasure Island would have to really step up their game to justify their prices, should do a better job of curating their items, and should stop trying to charge Etsy-high prices on the few unusual vintage items they have. Until then, do your thrifting elsewhere.


Link Roundup

What’s coming up on SYDW: I am interviewing a few places in the U.S. that accept gently used school supplies to see what they need. I am also eating expired food all week to show that those dates on food are not as hard and fast as you might think. Later today, I plan on drinking some super old hot chocolate with expired soy milk. Yum! I will give you the full report later.

Even though I just added my Stuff You Don’t Want Twitter account, it’s already been super useful. I’ve been following Waste Nothing— a more robust, searchable version of Stuff You Don’t Want, and already used them to find out a place to drop off my used corks. After a few confusing phone calls with the staff at Nordstorm in Santa Monica, I learned that the customer service desk will happily receive them. You can also search Recork directly for this info. I also recently added a medicine bottles listing on this site, if you have a pile of those laying around.

My friend, Moira, passed this link on to me from Gizmodo about this contraption which removes pollution from the air, creating jewelry from the waste. It’s like every interest I have rolled into one! My boyfriend, Nic, passed this article on to me about repairing items in the Wall Street Journal, which was a great read. And my brother, Dave, noted that this chef, Dan Barber, is all about not wasting food, and there was a big story about him on NPR.

How I Thrift: Katie Papp, Chicago

How I Thrift is a brand new feature where I interview experienced thrifters from throughout the United States to get their insights and local IMG_1740tips. Katie Papp, my very first interview, is a friend and former co-worker who lives in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood (three blocks from the Obamas) and runs Always Hungry Chicago. You can follow Always Hungry Chicago and her personally on Instagram.

When did you start thrifting, and why?

I’ve been thrifting with my mom since I was a little girl, and started going on my own when I was in college in 2001. I was really interested in vintage purses, and at one time I had a collection of over thirty-five from the ’70s pic4and ’80s. Currently I hit the thrift store for home furnishings. Mid-century modern design is my favorite and thrift stores are the best place to find pieces from that period at a reasonable price. It also makes me feel better about my personal carbon footprint when I buy used.

Where do you thrift shop?

pic3I grew up in Waukegan, a suburb of Chicago about thirty-five miles north of the city.  Even though I live in Chicago now, I still thrift up there. The prices are way better and there is less competition for the good furniture. My two favorite places to go are Community Thrift Store and B-Thrifty, located only a few blocks from each other.

What kind of things do you try and buy used?

Pic2I go for homewares these days. If you’ve ever had to furnish an entire apartment from scratch like I have, you know that it can cost a lot of money for everyday necessities like forks and spoons if you buy new. I have a collection of vintage drinking glasses and I’m always looking for unique designs. Right now I’m also on the hunt for Mid-century modern furniture pieces, specifically dressers for our bedroom and a new coffee table. My last pick up was a vintage radio that we keep in the kitchen.

Do you have any general tips for anyone without much thrifting experience? Any warnings?

Pic1My biggest tip is to not be turned off by the smell and the dust. I suggest going for items made out of glass, wood or metal if you’re looking for homewares because they’re super simple to clean. If you’re looking at chairs, reupholstering usually can be done pretty easily and totally transforms the look of the piece. Keep in mind that not everything at a thrift store is old or junky. Oftentimes you can find brand new items there.

I’m not only a frequent thrift store purchaser but I am a frequent thrift store donator. Every few months I go through my own and donate items, mostly clothes, that I don’t use anymore.


A few notes from Katie on the pics:


#1 Mid-century modern Dresser. This dresser is my pride and joy. We use it as a TV stand and to store random things. The best part is I only spent $30 on it.

#2 Couch and record cabinet. I purchased the couch off Craigslist for $250. I usually wouldn’t buy a used couch, but the seller had used it to stage apartments so it was never in a home where people lived. I bought the record cabinet a few days after Christmas last year after my boyfriend gave me a new record player as a gift. We stopped in the thrift store on a whim on our way home from my parents house and got it for $13!

#3 Panasonic radio. Purchased at an antique store in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, this summer. I almost bought a brand new vintage-inspired radio for three times the price. So glad I waited!

#4 Plant stand and books. This is an old wire reel that I purchased at a thrift store for $1. I painted it light gray and use it as a plant stand. On top of the radiator are various books purchased at a used book stores. I never buy new books, always used. (Even when I purchase books on Amazon!)


Thrift Store Review: Finders Keephers in Manhattan Beach

Finders Keephers_smallI’m going to say right off that I am not the perfect person to review Finders Keephers, and it’s not really a thrift store but a consignment store for designer clothes and accessories. However, I thought I’d mix it up in the interest of variety, and I will proceed as best as I can.

This is a small, well-curated store for the person who wants a gently used Tory Burch dress for $150. Are you that person? It stocks women’s clothing, shoes, jewelry, and lots and lots of purses. In general, my experience is that you pay a premium buying this stuff in person over ebay or other online outlet, but let’s review and you can decide for yourself.

Overall rating: C+

They really only have the four items, so let’s break them down.

1. Clothes. They have a lot of jeans for you if your waist size is between 25 and 28 inches, which I realize is not most people. They had a pBCBG jacket_78_smallair of Lucky jeans for $50 (honestly, they have sales that good for new pairs) and a pair of new-with-tags jeans from Bergdorf’s also for $50, when the original price was $269.00 That said, I’m not sure how old they were. They also had a cute BCBG jacket for $78, which was in excellent condition, but I found a comparable new one on sale for $159. Half price for used is not what I call a good deal. Overall, they did have quite a few new-with-tags items, though, so it may be worth it to you if you find the right thing.

2. Shoes. These used Pucci shoes were selling for $240, and Pucci_240_smallwithout any trouble whatsoever I located a comparable used pair online for $110, literally half that. I’d be willing to pay a little more locally, since it’s less hassle, and you save on shipping, but that’s a massive difference, and not unusual for consignment shops, in my experience. Similarly, I saw a pair of gray wool (?) Louboutin pumps for $750, and The Real Real offers shoes from the maker for around $400. (Again, I’m not an expert, so maybe the gray ones are especially collectible. But they weren’t even in pristine shape.)

3. Jewelry. Some of the stuff looked really dated to me. I Tiffany necklace_smalldid notice a fairly generic Tiffany silver heart necklace, but I’m not sure who would prefer a used Tiffany necklace for $160 over a brand new heart necklace (obviously a different style) from Tiffany’s for $225, if all you’re trying to do is get something in one of those aqua boxes.


4. Purses. They had a very good selection, some new-with-tags. This Francesco Biasca bag was $260 (originally almost $500, according to the tag) but there are many more inexpensive bags by the same maker on Tradesy Francesco_Biasca_smallfor considerably less.Overall, it’s a very lovely store in a neighborhood that’s hard to park in where you’ll pay somewhat more than you really have to. If you’re not a fan of online shopping, it’s an okay option.

Link Roundup

SYDW now has a Twitter account. Please follow me, because right now my only follower’s are my sister-in-law and the LADWP, and it’s lonely over there. I haven’t gotten up to speed on the whole thing yet, but I will. And then you can brag about getting in on the ground floor!

I am always looking on the lookout for fellow Angelenos who have an interest in used goods, and this week I happened upon the lifestyle blog of my (in a big picture kind of way) neighbor, Justina, at The Jungalow. She is a lifestyle/DIY blogger with an interest in thrifting, as DIY bloggers tend to be, and has a list of recommended thrift stores that overlap with some I’ve already done reviews for on this site. It’s so pretty it’s worth a look even if you’re too incompetent to do any of her projects, like I am!

Santa Monica is having a citywide yard sale on September 26th. If you live there, you can register your yard sale here. If you live nearby, definitely stop by on that day — Santa Monica is plenty posh, and there are sure to be deals.

Live in L.A. and not sure which days you’re supposed to water? Check out this handy chart, which lays out the schedule by odd or even numbered houses.

I was reading this essay by a former social worker about one of her former clients, and, as an aside she notes that, like most foster kids, he would move his belongings from home to home in a garbage bag. It gives me a chance to remind you that there is an organization called Suitcases for Kids that collects suitcases for foster kids because most foster kids end up transporting their belongings in garbage bags. If there isn’t anyone collecting them near you, consider starting a drive with your local Scout troop or Lions club and donating them to your local social service agency.

My 11947629_10155905973205417_3734541032001477149_nbrother bought several used ties, upon my recommendation, and here they are: $1.49 and $1.99. Eat your heart out! Or, better yet, snag a few used ones for yourself at your local thrift store!

Re-Book It: Easiest and Best Book Donation Option in L.A.

DSC_01031_1600x1066_acf_cropped1-1 If you live in L.A. and you like reading, you’re either a fan of The Last Bookstore or haven’t been there, a terrible oversight you should correct to as soon as possible. Not only is it a great place to spend a Sunday afternoon and find your next great read, they also boast a program, Re-Book It, which collects your unwanted books, keeping some, selling some, and distributing the rest to eager readers throughout Los Angeles. Very convenient if you’re moving or just cleaning house. If you have a few boxes, they offer complimentary pickup. I caught up with Kathy Hazen who kindly answered all my nosy questions about how it works.

1. How do donations to Re-Book It work? Do you guys take Kathy_Hazenwhatever you can sell and then distribute whatever’s left?

Books that can be used directly by other organizations are temporarily warehoused. Particularly valuable volumes are sold elsewhere and the proceeds from the sales are contributed to other non-profits.

Books that are appropriate for The Last Bookstore are shelved in our warehouse and brought into the store as space opens up. The majority of the donated books are sold in the $1 room in The Labyrinth above The JNmagnifyingglasseslargeLast Bookstore, which operates as a community service and makes no profit.

If the books are too tired, worn and/or damaged to be of use to anyone, they are turned over to a recycler.

2. What prompted you to start the program?

The program began as a way to divert books from landfills as well as to serve people who needed help donating their books. Most charities no longer accept books due to oversupply and the high costs of moving large quantities of books. Many people also simply have too many books for them to move on their own! The Last Bookstore has helped put previously unwanted books into the hands of thousands of people in L.A. county.

3. You talk in a general way about redistributing books to hospitals, libraries, etc., but can you break down some specifics for us? What would hospitals want, say, as compared to homeless shelters? Do you work with any organizations that have super specific requests?

A children’s cancer hospital requested books for their young patients to read while undergoing treatments. Many convalescent and rehabilitation facilities request that we restock their reading libraries for patients on an ongoing basis. RBI has provided art books for high school art classes, dictionaries for students in language arts class, and small libraries for many start-up daycare facilities.  We don’t receive many requests from homeless shelters but imagine they would probably want educational, self-help, or fiction.

We are currently compiling sizable donations for new teachers in a low economic community, both for their classrooms and to send home with the students as well. We have provided collections of reference materials for a local Boys and Girls Club for use in their after school program. The requests are quite varied and we are able to fulfill most every need, due to the generosity of the community!

4. Do you accept books written in Spanish?

We do, and Chinese, Japanese, German and Russian – any language!

5. What would you most like to receive that you never get?

We get pretty much everything, but the best books for our purposes are always going to be those that are either current and in like-new condition, or classics in their category.

6. What do you get a lot of that you don’t have much use for?

Textbooks more than five years old! Although the information contained in them doesn’t change, professors require their students to buy updated editions. Also, Harlequin paperback romance novels and ex-library books are not useful to us.

7. I notice your site lists information on how to schedule a pickup but says nothing about dropping books off at The Last Bookstore. Is that an option?

We do not mention it because it is not our preference. We also do not arrange for drop-offs at our warehouse.  We don’t have dedicated personnel in either location to handle them. We offer complimentary pick up for any donor with three boxes of books or more. If a donation is comprised of only a few items I will sometimes recommend they be taken to TLB. It’s also an opportunity for a store visit, which is an event unto itself!

8. If a charity is interested in receiving books from you, should they contact you?

The best way to request books from Re-Book It is to visit our website and submit a Request for Pick-up, just as you would if donating, and write the words REVERSE DONATION in the instruction field (third from the bottom) of the form. Then send a wish list of desired books via email at When both notices are received, your request will be processed.

Thanks, Kathy! I am sorting through my books right now. Hope someone wants my Douglas Coupland rejects, but that might be too much to hope for.



Thrift Store Review: Value Valley Center, Van Nuys

storefront_smallerIn much the same way you don’t start your career as a pianist playing Carnegie Hall, you would be well-advised to start your thrifting journey somewhere other than Valley Value Center. Not because it isn’t worth your time, but because it requires a stamina and commitment that newbies may not possess. It occupies a former Circuit City location, and is suitably vast. This Saturday it was filled with throngs of shoppers all chasing the elusive dream of finding an item of value that did not bear a red tag, which would mean an additional 50% off.

The prices were quite fair at Valley Value, and, judging by the Yelp crowd_smallercomments, there were some serious deals to be had if you invest the time to dig. (A Vera Wang wedding dress was mentioned.) Unfortunately, also judging from the Yelp comments, it has an incredibly rude and/or accusatory staff, and quite possibly a pickpocketing problem. I left unmolested with my wallet intact, but a fellow shopper commented to me, after I asked her about the lack of dressing room, “if you knew what went on in there before, you’d be glad there wasn’t one anymore.” I didn’t have the heart to pursue this thread any further, but I will caution you to guard your money and wear a tight-fitting outfit so you can try on clothes over it.

Parking was easy, and they made continual announcements about sales in both English and Spanish, which was a nice touch. One minor drawback: they take cash only, so be prepared! A big shoutout to my friends Sonia and Jorge who came with me. Overall rating: B+

What to buy:

Jorge_golf_clubs_smaller1. Golf Clubs. I don’t know if they always have golf clubs, but they had quite a few to choose from when we were there. Jorge noted that they were common brands, like Callaway, and started at around $9.00. I know golfing technology is always advancing, but this might be a decent option for someone new to the sport, especially since used options online would be prohibitively expensive to ship.

2. Books. They had a big section and most were priced at $1.95 or $2.95. As you might expect, it was a fairly contemporary selection, though I managed to pick up two 19th century schoolbooks and a Theodore Dreiser short story collection from 1929, which I look forward to reading. They were $2.95 apiece.

painting_smaller3. Paintings/Wall Hangings. I’m not saying everything in this category was pure gold, but the price was always right, and the inventory was extensive. I found stuff for as little as $2.99, including this picture for $7.99. Beats looking at a crack in the wall.

4. Stuffed Animals. Stuffed animals are stuffed_animals_smallerone of those things, like bras, that you have to either be on a serious budget or have an incredible commitment to recycling to get on board with. A stuffed animal in a thrift store always looks somewhere between sad and eerie, like a stock photo that accompanies a story on abducted children. Surprisingly, though, Valley Value manages to rise above this. All their stuffed toys appeared clean and even cheerful, and they sold entire bags of them for $2.00 apiece. If those kids are young enough, they’ll never know the difference, anyway. Now you can save your money for beer, parents.

linen_small5. Linen. They had an extensive collection of bedsheets which were clean and in good condition. Most were selling for $4.99. It’s tough to get a set of twin sheets from TJ Maxx for less than $19.99. Research brand names before you go. The low thread count sheets from Target are labeled Threshold, and Walmart’s label is Mainstays, so avoid those and go big, though that’s most of what you’ll see. Get some Tahari or Max Studio if you can! You deserve it.

6. Sleeping Bags. They had quite a few, including kids’ ones, mostly featuring Disney themes, for $3.99, whereas the cheap new ones at Toys R Us are $19.99. That seems like a pretty good deal to me, unless your 8-year-old needs to break out the high-end stuff to summit Mt. Everest.

oster_waffle_small7. Specialty Appliances. As I have told you before, you are crazy to buy a cupcake maker new. Perhaps you are crazy to buy one at all, but I’m not prepared to get that judgy. Most of them are cheapish $19.99 things, like mini pizza makers, which sell for $5.99, but there are nicer things like this Oster waffle maker, which went for more.

What to avoid:

Jewelry. It was all really cheap stuff, and by cheap I don’t mean inexpensive. I’m not going to tell you not to buy it, but it’s no great

Anne_KleinAll in all, definitely worth a visit, though Valley Thrift suffers from the classic low-end thrift store habit of overpricing anything that they think is decent (like these new with tags Anne Klein pants for $19.95. Again with the Anne Klein. I don’t get it.)

my_haulI got three books, a jewelry box, and an unopened puzzle for $17.00. And the grammar book, formerly owned by one long gone Edna Gast, had this classic turn-of-the-century phrase written on page 212: “If this book should happen to roam, give it a kick and send it home to Edna.” I think it’s too late for that, but I hope she had a good life full of proper comma usage.

If you know of any great thrift stores that sell antique tools, or are interested in tool restoration, check out Jorge’s You Tube channel and leave a comment.




Link Roundup

There’s a really helpful article at the Atlantic about why consumers make bad decisions when shopping. Avoid these traps whether you’re buying new or used!

I was going to let you guys know about my enthusiasm for Happy Living lettuce, which lasts way longer than regular lettuce because it’s packaged with its root intact. That means less food waste! In my research I have learned that the company who grows it, Go Green Agriculture, recaptures and reuses 100% of its water and is committed to growing their produce locally and sustainably. They’re even more awesome than I knew!

Speaking of saving water in agriculture, I turned on the last ten minutes of Shark Tank last week to see Johnny Georges pitching a device that could save farmers up to 93% of water on their crops. (It was a re-run, so perhaps you’ve already seen it.)  It was a very simple product and he seemed like a great guy. He got his funding, so I hope this thing goes big.

I also learned about The Buy Nothing project, a network of people who give away things to neighbors: “Ask for anything you’d like to receive for free or borrow. Keep it legal. Keep it civil. No buying or selling, no trades or bartering, we’re strictly a gift economy.” They have 80,000 members internationally. This Grist article lays out the details. I attempted to join my local group on Facebook, which appears to be closed. I’m not giving up that easy!

On a similar non-consumerist note, my brother sent me a story about a woman in Australia who got rid of almost everything she had before a trip to South America and found it liberating. I read the article and found a link to The Minimalists site, founded by two guys who found their seemingly successful lives, with moneymaking and consuming at the center, unsatisfying. There’s a great article on there about how ‘following your passion’ is crappy, or at least incomplete, advice.

Lastly, if you are here in L.A., there is a repair cafe in Santa Monica this weekend, sponsored by the local Time Bank. They are at the ready to attend to your busted appliances, broken jewelry, or torn clothing. You’d be crazy not to accept such bounty!