Pas­sion, fashion in one thrifty ex­pe­ri­ence

Maryland Independent - - Clas­si­fied - Twit­ter: @right­meg

You never know what you’ll find when you least ex­pect it — es­pe­cially at a thrift store. Or a yard sale. Or a flea mar­ket. I’ve writ­ten about the thrill of the hunt be­fore, and I see many of you folks — my fine fel­low bar­gain hunters — check­ing out ta­bles at the Calvert County Fair­grounds on Satur­days. My hus­band dis­cov­ered their gi­ant weekly yard sale by ac­ci­dent, and now it’s a way of life.

Ev­ery­one has that spe­cial search that gets them up at the crack of dawn on a week­end to look for some­thing they may or may not even find. Me? I love art­work, home decor and old fur­ni­ture. I’ve found wrought­iron mag­a­zine racks, framed flo­ral prints, wreaths and vin­tage hol­i­day decor — unique goods that thrill me be­cause I didn’t know I needed them un­til they ap­peared.

The (low) cost is thrilling too, of course. Noth­ing beats the rush of a bar­gain.

Ev­ery yard saler has a story of their great­est tri­umph: when they found some­thing so spe­cial, they be­came hooked on hunts for life. Ours is find­ing a beau­ti­ful chan­de­lier to re­place the dated one in our foyer for a whop­ping $15. The cou­ple we pur­chased it from had re­mod­eled their own home and gone with a dif­fer­ent “look,” they said. Cute and cheap is a good look to me.

Next? A jog­ging stroller ($15) and new hu­mid­i­fier ($5). Get­ting so ex­cited about a hu­mid­i­fier proves I’m a to­tal adult now. We paid $50 for ours new. Five bucks?! I mean. It’s the lit­tle things. If paw­ing through a stranger’s be­long­ings at dawn on a Satur­day sounds less fun than sleep­ing in, here comes the thrift store. South­ern Mary­land is home to a great many shops of­fer­ing sec­ond­hand items at great prices, and funds of­ten ben­e­fit our own neigh­bors.

Hav­ing had to re­build my wardrobe sev­eral times in adult­hood, I have a new ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the cloth­ing racks at thrift stores. Some­times I’m just “pass­ing through” a size on a weight loss jour­ney and can’t stom­ach the idea of spend­ing $40 on Levi’s I’ll wear a short time. Dur­ing my preg­nan­cies, I got tired of wear­ing the only three tops that fit — but felt guilty spend­ing money on stuff I’ll just be do­nat­ing soon my­self. So $2 for a ma­ter­nity top? Yes, please.

I’ve found jeans, work tops, dresses — many still with tags. And not just for me. Since dis­cov­er­ing that chil­dren lit­er­ally grow overnight, I of­ten search the kid’s racks for play clothes and dress clothes since I can safely as­sume they were worn, like, once.

At 3 months old, Hadley has al­ready burned through three sizes. Oliver’s closet is full of tiny pants and T-shirts he never got to wear. Shop­ping for my kids sec­ond­hand means I can keep them clothed and still have money for the bot­tles and bot­tles of ap­ple juice my son re­quests daily.

Of course I still shop at “reg­u­lar” stores and buy stuff on­line; that’s un­avoid­able. But I’d bet­ter have a coupon, and I’m check­ing the clear­ance sec­tion first. Flea mar­kets and thrift stores are gen­er­ally for nonessen­tials: art, home decor. Niceto-haves, not need-to-haves.

Since be­com­ing a par­ent, so much has tran­si­tioned into that cat­e­gory. Their needs are met first, of course, and hav­ing two kids in di­a­pers and day­care si­mul­ta­ne­ously is no joke.

But need-to-have is a shift in mindset: the idea that our pay­checks ben­e­fit the whole fam­ily, and what I “need” to be happy now is not what it used to be. Sav­ing cre­ates sta­bil­ity. When I was a sin­gle twenty-some­thing liv­ing at home, drop­ping $200 on a hand­bag wouldn’t have wor­ried me. Now I cal­cu­late that money in gro­ceries and di­a­pers, new kid’s shoes and morn­ing cof­fees, and I part with it much dif­fer­ently. I guess that’s grow­ing up. Buy­ing sec­ond­hand is my way to in­dulge in “fun” shop­ping with­out blow­ing fam­ily funds on a funky yel­low lamp or leather purse. I wouldn’t spend $80 on a pretty-but-un­nec­es­sary chair, but $10 is a dif­fer­ent story. Joy at a dis­count, but not dis­counted joy.

They know all about this at Hooks & Hang­ers, two re­sale shops filled with South­ern Mary­lan­ders’ unique do­na­tions of cloth­ing, fur­ni­ture, home goods and more. Run by the Spring Dell Cen­ter Inc., a La Plata-based non­profit sup­port­ing peo­ple with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties, the pur­chases made at their Char­lotte Hall and La Plata shops ben­e­fit our com­mu­nity.

I’m ex­cited to em­cee their up­com­ing “Pas­sion & Fashion” show, a run­way-style event show­cas­ing how sec­ond­hand shop­ping is the key to guilt-free glam­our. Hav­ing per­son­ally come home with scarves and tops and bags I couldn’t live with­out, I’m a big be­liever in the mes­sage and the mis­sion — and maybe you will be, too.

The show be­gins at noon on Fri­day, June 23 at the Char­lotte Hall lo­ca­tion (29940 Three Notch Road). It’s free and open to the pub­lic, but RSVPs are re­quested through their Face­book page (www.face­book.com/Hook­sandHangers/) or by call­ing the store at 301274-3711. The event will also in­clude tips from stylists, swag bags, treats and more.

I’ll prob­a­bly be wear­ing some­thing new — or new to me, any­way.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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