Buying needed items second hand fits into my philosophy of living a simple, frugal lifestyle, and I try to do it whenever possible. I am currently in need of fall clothes, so I betook myself yesterday to the biggest Value Village in town. The one I went to is quite huge and I hoped I'd get some great deals.
I hoped I'd get some deals even though, I have noticed over the past couple of years that the prices in thrift stores have been rising alarmingly. Granted, the only stores near me are part of this particular chain. Maybe I need to shop around more. But still, there it is. I did buy myself 3 long sleeved shirts, and they were $8 each. In fact, all of the reasonably decent women's shirts were that price. This seems kind of high to me for someone else's half-worn-out shirts, especially once you add in the 13% sales tax, but it's still a little bit cheaper than getting a new shirt for $12 at Walmart, so I paid it, although not without qualms. (There was one sweater I really liked that was $15, which I refused to pay.)
I also got a few other things: a hairdryer for $5, some pajama pants for $5, and a cake plate for $3, since I am planning on making a pumpkin cake for Thanksgiving and I don't even own a plate large enough to put a cake on! I actually wanted to get one of those ones with a glass dome, and they did have one--but the store wanted $10 for it. That seems silly when they are $15 brand new.
One thing I got which seemed like a good deal was two sewing patterns for 69 cents each. One is for a blouse, and the other is for a long skirt, since I can never find nice, plain long skirts in any store, thrift store or otherwise. The skirt pattern envelope says the original price was $14.95. Is that really how much sewing patterns cost new? That seems outrageous, when the fabric and notions still have to be purchased after that! (I don't feel bad now about charging $5 for vintage patterns in my Etsy shop.)
I am planning on making some quilts for my boys for Christmas, and I picked up a navy blue flat sheet for $5 to use as the backing for at least one of them. But after I bought it I realized that it was 50% polyester and the tag says no ironing. I guess I can't use something in a sewing project that can't be ironed, right? I will have to think of some other use for the sheet then, and keep a lookout for something else I can use for the quilts.
My favourite purchase was a sturdy square basket for $3, which I am using to store Jasper's bedtime story books in. Before, they were scattered all over the boys' room and quite messy. Baskets are good for containing mess, I have learned!
So I did make some decent purchases, but long gone are the days when I could leave Value Village with a bag full of clothes for $20. I was thinking on the drive home, is it really worth it to shop there anymore? Because as a homeschooling mother of four, my time is in high demand. Is it worth it to drive there, and then search through endless racks of shrunken and misshapen (and often bad smelling) clothes to find those few nice looking pieces? The line ups are always long too, and the customer service stinks. Maybe it is just not the best use of my time.
(And by the way, the cynical part of me can't help but wonder if stores like Value Village have doubled their prices in the last couple of years--and yes, they have because I have always shopped there often and I remember what things used to be priced at--I wonder if they have doubled their prices because they know that a large part of the population today is really counting their pennies, and needs to buy things second hand because it's all they can afford? And so the stores are taking advantage of this, and pricing things as high as they can and still be less than retail? Although in many cases, things there are higher than retail at a sale price!)
Coincidentally, yesterday evening I read a blog post about thrifting, and the writer mentioned something called "flea market style." When I looked it up I realized that that is my style...I like comfortably old, mismatched things in my house. Even on my back, for that matter. New, perfectly matched things look glaringly...new to me! Also yesterday, at Homesense (do they have that store in the US?) I bought a brand new set of stainless steel salt and pepper mills. I've wanted some of those for a while, and they're nice, but they look so out of place sitting on my diningroom table, since the table came from a garage sale, the plates are mismatched and second hand, the tablecloth was a handmedown, the silverware is thrifted, we use mason jars for glasses...you get the idea.
So after thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that yes, it is worth it to continue shopping at thrift stores even if sometimes the deals aren't that great. Because sometimes I do find good deals, and it's important for me to use our limited funds wisely. I like the look of previously used things, and I like owning things that are unique. Getting things secondhand is good for the environment. And lastly, it is rather fun searching through all the junk looking for a treasure. I just think that I need to find other places to buy secondhand things--Value Village is too expensive anymore.
Where do others like to buy secondhand things? Do tell...