Stay Home, Wash Your Hands, Give If You Can

Friends, we are living in weird times. The COVID-19 virus has basically put a halt to everything, including thrifting and this is NOT a blog post to complain about how a virus has cramped my shopping options. This is a blog post about how we can support one another.

Mom, on our trip together to Quebec last fall.

This is my mom. She’s 81 years young and if anything kills her, it won’t be the virus it’ll be boredom. In a matter of weeks, her world has shrunk considerably. All the things she does regularly have been cancelled or postponed: church services, volunteering opportunities at church, and volunteering at  the MCC Centre Thrift Shop in Abbotsford. Halting all of this activity is good and necessary: we all need to be vigilant in terms of social distancing if we’re going to get through this.

When the thrift shop notified the public via Facebook that they were closing their shop temporarily, I thanked them profusely:

As the daughter of one of your faithful volunteers, who would be too stubborn to NOT come to the store, I am grateful that you made this decision for her! Thank you for being thoughtful in this regard. Those of us who shop thrift regularly should make a donation to MCC to make up for lost revenue!

And that brings me to my second purpose for this blog post. Like many businesses, thrift shops will obviously lose revenue during this time. What makes thrift shops different, is that most thrift shops support charities and it is these charities that will truly feel the pain of lost revenue. Across Canada, MCC thrift shops raise millions of dollars to support the relief, development and peace work of the organization worldwide. At the MCC Centre Thrift Shop where mom volunteers, they bring in tens of thousands of dollars each month. This revenue goes to provide school kits, fund agriculture projects, build wells, support employment projects (that often support women in need), and more.

Now I realize that there are many people right here at home who are hurting financially because of COVID-19. Friends, if you find yourself in this situation because of the crisis we’re in, please know that I am not writing to you. I’m writing to me.

me and my sweetheart, also in Quebec, last fall, way, way back before this time of craziness!

My husband and I are very, very fortunate that we both have jobs that we can do from home and so our income, at least for now, is not threatened. Our house is paid for. We only have one adult child, who is, for now, also able to continue working. My mom is also doing well. She is healthy and though she may be bored, she’s figuring out ways to keep busy (by baking, mostly. Her family is all going to suffer from weight gain before this is done…)

We are in a position where we can help out the charities that rely on donations to do their good work. I shop at a lot of thrift shops that support charities: MCC, M2W2, Hospice, Salvation Army, Bibles for Missions, to name a few. All of these organizations do good work. (I also support the arts, which typically rely on donations to keep their productions going: Gallery 7 theatre, Pacific Theatre, or Bard on the Beach, to name a few.)

So if you, like me, are a dedicated thrift shopper with nowhere to shop, consider donating that money directly to the charities they support. That, and stay home, wash your hands, and practice social distancing!

You’re all in my prayers. Let’s get through this together.

Posted in family, second hand, thrift, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping, thrift shops, Volunteering | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rare Kilt, Great Seamstress

About a year ago, my mom bought me a kilt at the MCC Centre Thrift Shop in Abbotsford. Because she is a faithful volunteer, she gets a discount so this beautiful, vintage kilt came to a whopping $7.50.

The label inside the kilt has a vintage feel to it.

A quick google search showed me that the Moffat Mill still exists in terms of sales, what’s not clear is whether or not it is still a functioning mill. Kilts are typically sold as 8 yard or 5 yard kilts, the biggest difference being the number of pleats in the back. An 8 yard kilt at the Moffat Mill, runs £200 (nearly $400 these days) – but this is for a knee-length kilt, not a floor-length one like mine. I think mine is a rare bird, which makes it all the more special to me.

I love the buckle closure on this kilt – it’s a bit unusual to have this feature, usually kilts have buttons on the side.

I totally forgot that my mom had bought this for me until earlier this year when I realized that I needed something fancy to wear to a wedding in Toronto in February. I don’t typically go to fancy dress parties and it hardly seemed worth it to me to go out and buy something expensive that I’d only wear once. Then I remembered the kilt. I tried it on and then remembered something else: it was too long.

The hemming is perfect, inside and out.

Hemming is a skill I possess but I have never hemmed something with pleats. This one has 30 pleats in the back and because it’s such a beautiful piece, I didn’t want to run the risk of screwing it up. A friend recommended a seamstress – Fariba’s Fashion in Abbotsford. Fariba is Persian (100% going back centuries!) and has been a seamstress for 39 years. Her workplace is in the basement of her beautiful home, which is perfectly suited for what she does: a big space, with a spare room that’s large enough to serve as a fitting room, especially when you’re tailoring or altering wedding gowns, etc.

My sweetheart and I. He’s the one with the Scottish roots, which I have embraced 100% (i’ve embraced him 100% too!) Incidentally, his tweed jacket is also Scottish, also thrifted – as is my handbag, my blouse, and my shoes.

Fariba charged me only $40 to hem my kilt and she did a fantastic job. I wore my beautiful kilt to the wedding, a perfect thing to wear on a really cold, clear, windy day in Toronto. I can confidently recommend Fariba to you for alteration needs. I can also recommend wearing a kilt in winter. And of course, I can also recommend thrift shopping – you never know when you’ll find a beautiful gem like this one!

One thing I don’t know about the kilt is the origin of the tartan. Anyone recognize it?

Posted in clothing, kilts, sewing, thrift in Halifax, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping, thrift shops, vintage | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments


I love revisiting familiar thrift shops and seeing what they are doing to keep customers engaged. I recently went back to the Hidden Treasures Thrift Shop in Abbotsford, which supports M2W2 (a prison visitation ministry). I love this shop for a bunch of reasons: it’s small, it’s really affordable, and it has great volunteers.

I hadn’t been here for a while so it was cool to see some of the new displays they’ve got and the way they’ve revamped the front area.

I always like a friendly welcome

The newly revamped front area has nice displays and more of their collectibles

The furniture area in the back is very nicely organized, clean, and creatively displayed

I always appreciate a nicely organized book area

I made a few small purchases. I needed some thank you cards and really loved the vintage feel of these packets.

I also needed a nice picture frame for a new water colour I received that week from my son.

i look for photo frames that aren’t scuffed and make sure the hanging hardware is sturdy

et, voila!

And I also scooped up these fantastic wooden clothes pins – this was worth the visit, right here.

only $1.50!

I’m super picky about clothes pins and this box was filled with really good, non-snagging, sturdy, CLEAN clothespins. Score!

How has your favourite thrift shop refreshed its look recently?

Posted in clothes pins, sationery, second hand, stationery, thrift, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping, thrift shops | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

New Year’s Resolutions

this is one of my favourite ornaments – Santa’s smiling face painted inside an oyster shell. purchased on Granville Island in Vancouver. the reason for this photo will become clear below!

I am not a person who makes New Year’s resolutions – mostly because it feels cliché. I do try, though, throughout the year to do things that will make me a better person, that will impact others, and that matter. In many ways, this fits with my thrift- focused lifestyle: being conscious of how I spend my dollars and how my consumerism impacts the earth is important.

So with that in mind, I’ve decided to make some thrift -related resolutions and I’m inviting you to do the same and asking you to share your ideas to help me achieve mine.

This bar shampoo is made in Ontario and it smells heavenly

  1. I resolve to reduce the amount of plastic that comes into my house.

I have come to terms with the fact that there will always be plastic in my life. I already use cloth shopping bags and mesh produce bags (or reuse plastic produce bags), I try to purchase products that have less packaging, and I recycle all that I can. But there are some things I haven’t been able to avoid: yogurt containers are a great example. I know I could make my own yogurt but since I’m lactose intolerant, it’s much, much simpler to purchase yogurt that is lactose-free. I do reuse the containers all the time, though, to freeze the home-made veg stock that I make every few weeks. Still, there are other areas where I can choose differently. One decision I made recently was to purchase bar shampoo. One of these bars is equivalent to three plastic bottles of shampoo, which means I’m keeping 3 bottles out of the system. It’s also great shampoo.

What are other ways that I can bring less plastic into my house?

another favourite Christmas ornament purchased in Scotland

  1. I resolve to purchase only when I need something.

This might feel obvious to some of you but as much as I want to be a conscientious consumer, there are seasons when I throw that out the window. The best example of this is when I’m on vacation. One of the traditions that my hubby and I started years ago is to pick up a Christmas tree ornament when we travel – something that represents that place. I like this tradition for a few reasons: I end up purchasing something that I don’t have to look at all the time, it lasts longer than a t-shirt, and it always brings back great memories. But do I really need another Christmas ornament? Probably not – my tree gets fuller every year.

i also have a St. Nicholas collection. most are free standing, this fine fellow hangs on the wall and was purchased on Ile d’Orleans, Quebec this past September. i LOVE him. that’s gotta count for something, doesn’t it?

Maybe I need to define “need” – how would you define that?

i feel like this photo speaks for itself.

  1. I resolve to declutter my basement.

I have an ulterior motive for this one – I want to turn my basement into a yoga studio. This means more than simply getting rid of stuff: it means doing a bit of renovating and it means redefining living spaces in our home. But before any of that can happen, I have to deal with the things I’ve shoved in closets and corners because I just don’t want to deal with them. I don’t relish this task but it’s gotta be done.

What’s your best tip for starting the decluttering process?

If you don’t want to weigh in on my resolutions, share your resolutions with me!

Posted in art, christmas, environment, New Years REsolutions, second hand, simple living, thrift, thrift lifetstyle | 2 Comments

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink!

this is the first sweater i ever bought at a thrift shop with my own money. cost me a buck.

When I first began this blog in 2011, I had a few goals in mind. I wanted to share my passion for thrift shopping for a variety of reasons: support for charity, support for volunteerism, keeping things out of the landfill, and sharing the thrill of the hunt. While many of my posts (and often the most popular posts) feature a new thrift shop or something I’ve found at a thrift shop, I always wanted this blog to be more than just a way of bragging about the things I’ve found. I call it “thrift shopper for peace” because being a peace-maker is also a value that I hold dear and my passion for thrift very much stems from a desire to be a peace-maker with my environment and on a local, national and even global level. My tagline – reduce, reuse, recycle, rethink – is a way to emphasize ideals that are important to me.

I’m always excited when I discover others who also share this passion and two things have come across my radar in the last few days that I want to share with you.

Waste Reduction Week

October 21-27, 2019 is Waste Reduction Week in Canada. It’s actually a year-round initiative aimed at a circular economy, resource efficiency, and waste reduction. The goal is to celebrate innovation and encourage Canadians to make environmentally conscious choices. Each day of the week has a different theme:

The website is loaded with ideas, inspiring stories, and resources to help people get started. It can feel overwhelming but if you choose one thing – say, making a commitment to reducing food waste in your household – you’re already making a difference. Here’s an inspiring story I read in the Vancouver Sun this week:

Reduce, Repair, Reuse

photo: Jason Payne, Vancouver Sun

Monika Markovinovic is a woman from Port Moody who once lived in Toronto and worked as a fashion editor. She loved clothes and she always had the latest, trendy items from mass market, fast-fashion retailers. But as she learned more about the environmental and social impacts of fast-fashion, she began to change her habits. She made a commitment to eliminate all clothes shopping – not even second-hand shopping – for a year. She used what she had in her closet, learned how to repair pieces that needed it, and in the process, changed her life. Today, she shops less, shops second-hand, shops local.

Read the full story here – it’s more than just her story, there’s also great information here about the impact of the fashion industry on the environment.

Getting Active

And finally, I learned about Waste Reduction Week because of a Facebook post from the mayor of Abbotsford, promoting the Clothing Fix-it and Swap, coming this Saturday, October 19th to Abbotsford. At the event, you can bring clothes that need repair and someone will help you fix it. You can also swap good-condition used clothes for something new-to-you! I love the idea that someone will help you fix it – as opposed to dropping it off for someone else to do the work. You have the opportunity to pick up a skill as you repair something so that you can get more wear out of it.

I’m going to try and attend the Clothing  Fix-it and see if I can learn how to repair the lining of a beautiful winter coat that my sweetheart bought on our honeymoon at a flea market in Rome, Italy.

After 33 years, it’s still an excellent coat but the innards are in bad shape. I’ll let you know if I have any success!

What’s one thing you are committed to doing to reduce waste?

Posted in clothing, consumerism, environment, frugal living, second hand, sewing, thrift, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping, Uncategorized, waste | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Friperie – Thrifting in Quebec

one of dozens of photos we’ve taken of fall colours in Quebec

My mom wanted to see fall colours in Quebec this autumn, so we have been exploring a bit of New Brunswick, the Gaspé Peninsula, and Ile d’Orleans. We also took my sister-in-law, Kim, along who is also a hard-core thrifter (she is one of the managers at a Bibles for Missions thrift store in Ottawa), so I was in very good company.

My sister-in-law Kim, me, and my mom (Susan) – thrift soulmates

We were surprised to find that thrifting is not as big in this region as it is in other places we’ve traveled to (i.e. in Scotland, every little town, no matter how small, has a thrift shop). We really had to hunt but the hunt was totally worth it. We found a great one in New Brunswick, and two in the Gaspésie – one really weird one and one really cool one.

Red Cross Thrift – Edmunston, New Brunswick

One of the things I love about my sister-in-law is that she is not shy. We went for lunch to a little bistro and she asked the waitress if there were any good thrift shops around. We were directed to this little gem of a shop. The shop is not big at all, as you can see, but it was filled with quality things at very good prices. Both Kim and my mom were worried that they had not bought warm enough clothing for an upcoming boat trip. Mom found two jackets, John and I found some touques, and Kim found a really nice sweater.

American made, leather uppers

like new!

My big score was these leather upper dress shoes for $3 – look at the soles, they’re like new and they’re really comfy.

I really loved the note at the front of the store that basically affirms their volunteers (They offer their time, the energy, and their smiles) and asks that we, their valued customers, would support these volunteers by putting back the things we’re not going to buy in the place where we found them as it helps keep the story properly maintained. Our participation in this is greatly appreciated!

Deuxieme Vie (Second Life) – Grande Rivière, Gaspé, Quebec

Okay, this was maybe one of the weirdest thrift stores I’ve ever been in. It was half thrift, half retail. The retail was lingerie/sleepwear, some of it on racks, a lot of it in bags and boxes that you could rifle through.

TONS of kids clothes

The thrift was 90% children’s clothing, well organized on racks by age and size.

it was kinda like someone threw up their shoes into the entrance of the shop

You had to walk through a little hallway of thrift shoes – no rhyme or reason to these – in order to get to that part of the store.

The adult clothing, however, was a bit of a sh*t-show. It was crammed into a back corner – and I mean a back corner – no sizing, little organization, and nowhere to try anything on. Still, both Kim and mom found something to take home – mom found a quilted vest, Kim a coat for the cooler weather we experienced, both very reasonably priced. I just did not know what to think about this place.

Friperie le Grenier – Matan, Gaspé, Quebec

This was a total score. This little shop was well organized, everything quite clean, and prices very reasonable.

This was one of mom’s finds: he even looks a little cocky

I bought a long-sleeved t-shirt, my mom picked up a piece of brand new tupperwear for $1 and a few knickknacks, but Kim really found some gems.

love the bright colours in this piece

She’s moved into a new apartment and is looking for eclectic artwork. She found a few pieces like this folk art piece above.

a fairly large, framed print for such a great price

This print is my favourite one. It’s titled “Mes Enfants Dans La Neige” (My children in the snow) by Claude Picher, an artist from Quebec City. It came from a gallery in Matan. Kim got it for $10. I mean, you can’t even get a frame for that. Isn’t it lovely?

i just love this!

We’re almost done our trip and it’s unlikely that we’ll do any more thrifting but these shops were a lot of fun to visit. Do you thrift when you travel? What’s the most unique thrift shop you’ve every found?

Posted in art, second hand, thrift, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping, thrift shops, travel | Tagged , , , , , ,

Sunshine Coast Thrift

the family that thrifts together, saves together

My two favourite thrifting buddies – my mom and my sister – and I visited BC’s Sunshine Coast this month for a girl’s getaway that included visits to brewery, a cidery, and a really great distillery, a boat trip up Princess Louise Inlet and, of course, thrifting.

We started in Gibsons, at the Community Services Thrift Store. (i apologize in advance for my slightly blurry photos. i promise, these were taken before visits to brewery/cidery/distillery!) This was by far my favourite, for a few reasons. I loved the layout of the store – it’s deceptively large, going back a ways.

love this little encouragement

They don’t start with the clothes, which is what everyone wants to see first, they start with knickknacks and glassware, you walk through the books to get through to the shoes and clothing.

a well organized book section is always appreciated

Their book section was very impressive – I didn’t buy anything because I already own most of what they displayed, proof that this is a well read community (ahem.)

the fellow at the till was really friendly

The staff was super friendly and they played GREAT music – all bonuses as far as I am concerned.

it feels so soft!

I picked up a book and this cosy long top, I love the twist detail.

anyone read this book? i picked it up based on the sales pitch on the back cover.

Our second stop was the Sally Ann.

Salvation Army Gibsons

I love the new graphics they’re putting on their stores and trucks.

all these wonderful, positive words in myriad languages. so cool.

I picked up a few greeting cards, my sister picked up a few cute t-shirts for her grandson, but my mom made the big score of the day.

I wish I had the “before” pictures. It was so dirty!

She has been looking for a Braun dough machine for years, trying to replace hers. At 80, my mom still bakes buns and desserts all the time, so arguably a dough machine is the most used machine in her home. She tried a Kitchen Aid but hated the stainless steel bowl and no one in Abbotsford seemed to be able to sell her what she wanted.

it came with dough hook, whisk, instruction booklet, etc.

So when she saw this Braun machine, with all the parts, for $5, she snapped it up. She had them plug it in first so she could listen to the motor and deemed it okay. I think it was so cheap because it was filthy but there is no dirt that my mother cannot clean, so she was pretty happy with it.

Salvation Army Sechelt, same graphics on the windows

Our last stop was the Sally Ann in Sechelt. A rainbow crosswalk led right to its front doors. This was a little smaller than the one in Gibsons but nicely laid out with pretty displays and again, friendly, cheerful volunteers. I came away empty handed from this one but I bet if I lived in Sechelt, I’d find some great deals eventually.

The view from Chatterbox Falls, Princess Louise Inlet

Although it’s called the Sunshine Coast, we did have cloudy/rainy weather but the nice thing about thrifting is that it is not weather dependent, so it was a great weekend all ‘round. My only advice if you’re going, is to reserve the ferry way, way, way in advance, or you run into the challenge we did: a 2 sailing wait. Good thing we like each other.

Have you been Destination Thrift Shopping this summer? Tell me your favourite!

Posted in family, second hand, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping, thrift shops | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments