Passion, fashion in one thrifty experience
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.