I have always been an avid thrift shopper. My indoctrination was at the age of 18 by a girlfriend’s mother. In me, she suspected she had found a kindred spirit in the world of second-hand, as her own daughter had no interest. One Monday morning, she took me to the Bryn Mawr Hospital Thrift Shop (BMHTS) for our first adventure…and I’ve been hooked ever since.
It started with the clothes. It’s not only that I was able to buy far better quality than I could have ever afforded on my part-time Pharo’s Pizza counter girl salary, I also liked the fact that, although I have often found new garments with the tags still on them (“NWT” for those of us familiar with the world of second-hand jargon), it’s that many of the clothing items had already been broken in. I felt strangely comforted as I allowed myself to be enveloped by the soft cashmere of my “new” Nordstrom sweaters. I relished being the only girl at the party with a unique clutch or piece of jewelry. While my counterparts were going to the mall to spend far more money on the latest fads, I was buying fashionable, quality clothing that would be with me for awhile. The best part…after a piece had finished its’ time serving me, I could re-consign it allowing someone else to enjoy it!
After college, I moved into my first apartment. It was at this time that I discovered the joys of the furniture, housewares, and bric-a-brac sections of the thrift shop. By then, I was not only frequenting the BMHTS, but also all of the other fabulous second-hand shops dotting the Main Line. Some of my most beloved pieces from that time are still with my today: a navy blue chenille-striped sofa, a Martha Washington sewing cabinet, and a set of Pyrex mixing bowls. Each time that I use a purchase from that era, it brings me back to a very special time in my life.
When ebay and Craigslist came along, my mind nearly exploded. Although they are now my first resources when shopping for a “new” item for my home, there is nothing that can replace the thrill of the hunt or the wonderful realization of an item found that I never even knew I needed. I love to wonder what each piece’s history is. What are the stories that my beautiful blue and white china could tell me from all of the fabulous dinner parties that it serviced? What kind of books were read by the light of my brass floor lamp? Did the lovely green and ivory tufted chair in my living room ever hold anyone famous?
Of all the various businesses that closed during the pandemic lockdown, it was the thrift shops that I missed the most. So you can imagine how thrilled I am that my beloved thrift shops are now re-opening. (If there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony, I’d be the girl with the scissors.) I can’t wait to get back to my Friday ritual of driving down Lancaster Avenue, saying hello to the familiar faces of the volunteers, and finding my stash for the day. After being stuck at home for all of those months, I now realize all of the things that I “need”.
In the event that you’re in need of a little retail therapy, I’m happy to share my most favorite haunts: Bryn Mawr Hospital Thrift Shop, Junior League Thrift Shop (Ardmore), Neighborhood League Shops (Wayne), Goodwill (Berwyn), Nana’s Attic (Broomall), and Consign and Design (Broomall). Here I have found most of my treasures. The best part about it…while striving to create a home and wardrobe that is both of quality and unique, thrifting allows us to meet all of the sustainability R’s; reduce, reuse, and recycle.
So go forth and thrift, dear neighbors! Just don’t pick up all of the good stuff before I can get there;)