A tale of two thrifties

I bought this all-wool grandpa workjacket for $10, then I hipstered down to the farmers' market and bought this pumpkin.
I bought this all-wool grandpa work jacket for $10, then I hipstered on down to the farmers’ market and bought this pumpkin.

The first time I remember going to a thrift store was with my Mum and my Nana, the summer I was 4 (or so.) It was at a St Vincent de Paul in Langford on Vancouver Island, and was a favourite of my Nana’s to visit after grocery shopping in town. We looked through the varied array of items for treasures, tried on outlandish things and things we’d actually buy, and generally had a good laugh together.

The little pumpkin went to hang out with his friends: $10 table painted apple green; once-flowered lamp spray-painted black; Fish aquarium skull spray-painted black

Value Village was a mainstay not just for halloween (though it was that), but also to get clothing allowance to go a little further and to get something no one else had. I thank my lucky stars I was a teenager during the 90s, when thrift shopping made you THE COOLEST (especially since I would have done it anyway, even if it wasn’t cool). Also thank goodness that my Mum was not alarmed by the outlandish fashion sense of my cross-dressing, african-headscarf wearing teenage self. I have had great thrifting outings with my high school buddies and my Mum; I’ve learned some great ideas for thrifted fabric and how to use ‘all parts of the sweater’ from Margot and Anita, all with the ethos of ‘waste not want not’ and ‘frugal is smart’. I loved thrift shopping in Sweden and got tons of cool stuff, like our Swedish sofa/chair and the boots and jacket seen here.

Tweed grampa blazer and lined leather boots from Erikshjlalpen
Tweed grampa blazer and lined leather boots from Erikshjlalpen

I haven’t been thrifting with Mum for a long time, but occasionally she and Graham’s mom Bernie get together and go to ‘the boutiques’. Favourites are the women’s shelter coop in Mission, and the Mennonite Community Council Store in Abbotsford. They seem to have a blast, and much of the awesome hand-made ceramics in my cupboard are fruits of Mum’s searches.

A doily stretched over a frame for earrings and such
A doily stretched over a frame for earrings and such. It’s not just storage, it’s art!

In the internet age, one can engage in ‘online thrifting communities’ to find out what your local thrift shop has in stock, ‘hunting trophy’ blogs where people show the coolest things in thrift stores like this one in Sweden, and blogs all about how to repurpose old stuff.  I have been doing some thrift shopping lately, showing a grad student where to get furniture and housewares and getting a few things for the new apartment. I have even prepared a ‘refashion’ of my own for your enjoyment:

DIY how-to for a wool cushion cover

We don’t call them Cosby sweaters anymore, just ugly sweaters, after infamous comedian Bill Ugly.
It had 10 minutes of life as an all-shetland-wool ugly-sweater-vest!
Three quick seams on the sewing machine and stuff with a pillow
Now living in texture-harmony with the Norwegian reindeer skin


$30 side table with storage inside. It might be the world’s highest piano bench? $2 ceramic plant pot on top.

So, the ‘two thrifties’ in the title could be Mum and Nana, me and Mum, or Mum and Bernie (the common person in all these pairs being Mum). I’m glad to have learned to avoid waste and to find utility in used things, it is a good value to have and I think I am better for it.

Here’s to you on your birthday mom: they don’t make ’em like they used to!

Happy Birthday Mom!