Two sisters, two coasts, one blog

Thrift Shop


” I’m digging, I’m digging, I’m searching right through that luggage. One man’s trash is another man’s come up.”

– Macklemore

It’s early morning. I’m getting suited up: sneakers for comfort and quick footed-ness, hair pulled back for least amount of distraction, pack of bacterial wipes in my bag just in case.

New workout regime? A run to start the day?

NO. Today, I’m going thrifting.

goodwill. poppin tags.

It’s funny to me that this song has given the youth of America permission to define their own unique style via second-hand clothing. (If you have yet to hear it, be warned it’s NOT safe for work or kids.)


As my 13 year old son wisely commented “it’s, like, the song for the times”. Agreed. Everyone out there is broke and beginning to realize that this consumer culture of ours is unsustainable, and kind of ridiculous. We’ve been brainwashed into spending our resources on buying the latest, hottest item brand-new, when the truth is the BEST stuff is already out there, waiting to be had in thrift stores for a fraction of the price. As my friend Mackelmore says, “Fifty dollars for a t-shirt? That’s just some ignorant b**ch sh*t”.

Besides, I LOVE to go thrift shopping. I’ve been doing it ever since I was a kid. My first ever fashion purchase was at the infamous Ashby flea-market at the BART station in North Berkeley, CA. I found some sparkly gold shoes with a square 2″  chunky heel and giant gold rosettes on the front. They were priced at $2.00 which seemed a fortune but I had to have ’em. I was five years old.


“…I’ma take your grandpa’s style, I’ma take your grandpa’s style…”

I’ve been at it ever since. I’m hooked on the thrill of finding something awesome and unique and in my size and cheap. It’s like all the rush of a shopping spree without the buyers remorse. In fact, getting home later and trying everything thing on just adds to the sweetness of the thrill, especially when you discover that whatever you got really is as great, better even, than seemed at the thrift store. And when it’s not, it’s no skin off your nose cuz heck, you only pay $1.39 a pound at some places anyway. It’s always nice to pass it along to someone else who will want it, or fit it and know that they are happy and you only spent pennies.

So, when my girlfriends said they were making a run to Goodwill Outlet and Crossroads Trading Co., I was in. I even woke up early so we could get right to G.O. when it opened. And yes, by the time we arrived with three minutes to opening time there was a line of people along the steps. Us heathens who aren’t at church bright and early on Sunday mornings, well, you know where to find us. We are at (as I’ve affectionately come to think of it), ‘the garage sale at the end of the world’….


I love the outlet the best because it’s a total free for all. With everything priced “per pound”, all clothing is mixed together in these giant blue bins and you just have get in there and dig. Some regulars wear rubber gloves and some paper masks and it’s not a bad idea  I mean you never know what kind of treasures you’re going to encounter – good and bad. Today I, (without any gloves) found a pair of purple polyester panties with ruffles all over the ass-part and “giney jelly” all over the crotch part. Crusty.

You, dear readers are lucky I chose not to post a picture of it.

I do wish however that I could have recorded the conversation my friends and I were having as we dug through those bins. From what I can recall some of the refrains included:

“is this good ugly or bad ugly?”


“this sweatshirt is so ‘Bret’ from Flight of The Conchords “


“I can’t believe you found that! YOU have a gift from God….”

why yes, that is a shopping cart piled high.

why yes, that is a shopping cart piled high with great finds.

It’s true that it’s much more fun to go to the G.O. with someone else who has a sharp eye and can cut through the mountains of crap and pilled knitwear to find the truly great items. My friend Anne has a radar for 100% virgin wool, which as you earthy types know is worth it’s weight in…well, wool. Justine, my cohort in thrift shopping for the last 15 years,  can zoom in on vintage prints and fabrics in a tangle of clothing and extract beautiful old treasures just like that. These girls know quality.

I guess I’ll reveal my secret that Goodwill Outlet seems to be where all the best vintage stuff ends up. I am curious to know what the ‘life cycle’ of secondhand clothing is and how some things end up at the regular Goodwill stores, and some things are cast off into the mass of used  stuff that is an outlet store  However that process shakes out, it seems to me that many really unique and well-crafted pieces of vintage clothing  find their last days spent in those big blue bins. I wish I could take them all home with me, but alas I have to leave much of it behind. My husband would never forgive me if I brought home pounds of stray fur coats.

But here’s what I did find today:

  • 2 pairs of MC Hammer-type parachute pants, in gorgeous heavy-weight silk, one a rich orange color and the other a deep mustard yellow. They feel fantastic on but I’m as yet undecided as to whether I”ll ever leave the house in them.
  • a Queen size zebra print comforter.
  • a brilliant orange and blue painting, an ocean-scene destined for my backyard fence by my patio.
  • fabrics for my 7th grader’s class play.
  • two vintage aprons, a mother can never have too many.
  • a  man’s nite shirt, Brooks Brothers, in a lovely weight cotton.
  • a purple striped clip-on tie for my 1st grader; a handwoven leather and hemp belt made in the Dominican Republic, an ankle length Indonesian-print wrap skirt, and a black and white 1970s polyester shirt-dress (stripes and polka dots…hellooo!)
  • plus a big, styley travel bag with tons of pockets. Red alligator skin – faux of course –  very wanna be Kardashian. I’m all set for my next weekend away, right?

And yes, I did have “$20 in my pocket”. And yes that’s about what I spent – just few dollars more actually, but I had to have that painting. The wrapped canvas print had it’s original retail sticker on the back so I happen to know that it once sat on a shelf at Ross priced at $70. I got it for less than $5.

That’s almost a 95% discount, yo.


“…saving my money and I’m hella happy….”

As for Crossroads? Well, we stopped there too and there was a lot of great stuff also. It’s all the best things from those bins, cleaned ironed and merchandised together to show how great it is; the treasure-hunting work has already been done for you. It’s still second-hand and still very cheap as clothing goes but it’s hard to swallow $7 for one t-shirt when you know how little you could pay for it, if you could only find it somewhere else.

They do have used designer items that are fun to check out and I suppose $45 was a steal for those amazing Jeffrey Campbell moccasin boots in a beautiful suede- too bad I’m not a size 7 shoe. I did go methodically through the 50% off rack, (a discount on already discounted clothes, now that’s more my speed) and found a perfect little ball dress reduced down to $4.25, for my next evening out. My biggest splurge of the day was a pair of grey leather ballet flats with a rock ‘n’ roll buckle on the toe that would have made my 5 year-old self proud. I anted up $12.50 for those.

I figure I’m worth it.


13 Responses to “Thrift Shop”

    • ruchapowers

      Hey girl…we wanted you to come with us but you were sick in bed? Poor dear! Next time!

    • ruchapowers

      Thanks for re-blogging! That’s a great compliment. Your blog looks so fun – will follow.

    • ruchapowers

      Ha! I wish. Well, I am in the back of Anne’s BMW though. Good eye dad, another distinguished fellow with great taste! I’m excited for the painting to grace my outdoor paradise come summertime.

  1. bcre8v2

    Loved your article. I a a novice at the Goodwill Outlet and wrote about it on my blog. Like you, I wonder how they decide what ends up here and what goes to the regular Goodwill Stores. A fun experience!

  2. ruchapowers

    I just read that article, great job describing the unsettling and fascinating experience of shopping at the Goodwill Outlet! Thanks for visiting out blog, hope you return sometime.

  3. betty

    sounds like a fun outing, rucha. and it was a fun read. i had to laugh at the $1.39 price. the place i used to go to (back in the day) was only $1.00 a pound. i guess that’s inflation 🙂


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