All Things Thrift

21 Oct

Happy Thursday?

Sorry folks, sometimes life gets in the way and a blog post comes a day late… However, we are very fortunate today to have MCC Saskatchewan’s provincial thrift store manager with us to talk about clothing from her angle:

I am one of the luckiest people on earth.  Largely because… I love my job!

Working with the 11 MCC Thrift Shops that are scattered around our charmingly-flat, yet uber-foxy province has brought me much joy, much enlightenment (seeing how things are done, the sense of true-community that exists in some of our rural centers, the opportunities that exist = enticing!), and as I hope to share with you today… much insight.

As I reflect on what I could share that would be interesting & relevant to the nature and audience of this No Waste Wednesday community, I feel that there are 3 key lessons/exciting ideas I believe I have learned along the way that I’d like to share.

The First Thought:  EXCESS.

The cultural/social climate of our society seems to scream loudly to us: “BUY, BUY, BUY!!!”  We want this shirt, those jeans, we need every shade of shoe to match each different outfit we can conceive… the result? Excess.

Within the thrift network of our little 11 stores alone, more clothing, knick knacks, books, old-school electronics, jewellery, seasonal items, etc, etc, etc comes through the receiving doors than you would possibly be able to imagine. Each week, at just ONE of our stores ONE HUNDRED bags (think your old-school black garbage bag variety) of excess clothing is sent elsewhere for use or processing.  The CRAZY thing about this is that these are EXCESS bags of clothing that the volunteers are not even able to OPEN as there is just not enough time to sort through all the donations.

While it is wonderful to have so much selection to choose from (hence: great quality items for sale at value prices), this often stands to me as a reminder of just how much EXTRA there is floating around in our society.

My husband works in a cabinet shop, and so often we are able to go into new houses he is working on, look around and dream about living in the lap of luxury… often I will go into the Master Bedroom and marvel at the space that one would have.  Nowadays, it is VERY rare that any of the new houses we go into DO NOT have a walk-in closet.

The closets seem to be getting bigger & bigger & bigger!  It’s as if houses are having to grow to accommodate the amount of STUFF we are collecting.

Don’t get me wrong.  I obviously have to sort of be a ‘fan’ of‘excess’ in my role… the thrift world would not function without the STUFF that other’s are done with.  I am just observing.  There is a whole lot out there… where will it all eventually end up?

My question: Do we need to continue buying buying buying all this new stuff if there exists already-made, quality goods?

The Second Thought:  Fashion “finds” are out there… you just have to look!!

I grew up in a small, rural community in Northern Alberta.  I fully remember how “embarrassing”  it would feel to be seen entering or exiting the local Sally Ann in town.  I always felt like I didn’t want the other kids to know where I’d bought my clothes because they’d think we were poor (can anyone out there relate???)…. but those days are LONG GONE!  Now when I make a particularly exciting purchase, I am eager to show it off, to let people know where I made the “find” and encourage them to look for something particularly rad themselves (and note: one time, I found $20 in a purse I bought – best day ever!).

Recently, our Regina store held a Fashion Show.  Going into the event, I was so curious about what types of clothes there would be and how they were going to work everything.  By the end of the day, my love and passion for the thrift network was sooo energized.  Not only were the outfits put together stunningly; but there was a variety of ‘looks’: sporty, professional, casual, elegant – for men, women & children.  The variety and quality of clothing were impressive!

Sometimes it might seem overwhelming or too time-consuming to shop thrift, if you’re in a hurry, the desire to just be in & out of the store/mall/shopping center wins… and that makes sense, if you have a needed item, perhaps you won’t be able to find it if there is a time constraint for looking.

But, my encouragement is that when time isn’t an issue, or when you are going shopping for the sake of browsing anyway… consider shopping thrift… for tips and advice on how to shop well; visit How to Shop Well for Clothes in a Thrift Store

The Third Thought:  Reduce.  Reuse.  Recycle.

We are all familiar with this catchphrase… I think I’ve already addressed ‘REDUCE’ and ‘REUSE’ but now… how about recycling? For those artists, designers, handy-type people out there, this one’s for you.

More and more words like “upcycling” and “repurposing” are becoming common in our social circles.  What this idea refers to is using or converting an item for use in another format or product… ie: taking a t-shirt and making it into a t-shirt bag (available for purchase at our Rosthern Clothes Basket store).

Recently, as I was browsing Facebook, I came across a page for a designer who recently featured another artists’ up-cycled items to create “new” pieces of jewellery… the album is viewable on UpTowne Accessories

So… what are you going to “recycle”?  Are you interested in creating “new” from “old”?  Visit a thrift shop today and let your creative mind wander… the possibilities are endless!

Other examples of “up-cycled” goods are Glory by Design (restoring/redecorating furniture) and Notty Pooch (recycled, eco-friendly accessories).

So there you have it… just some of the thoughts that kick around in my head!

Lastly, I would be completely remiss if I didn’t direct you to visit the MCC Thrift Shop Website Visit today, and find the nearest MCC Thrift Shop near you!  Or, if you’re interested in volunteering in our network, feel free to contact me at the MCC office in Saskatoon!



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