The Pandemic and the Fitting Room Conundrum

Everyone has been impacted by the global pandemic, especially small businesses. Thrift shops are among those enterprises that have had to make a number of changes in order to stay open, sell goods, and support the charities they serve. What I’m wondering is this: which of those changes will remain?

Along with plexiglass at the cashiers, hand-sanitizing stations, mandatory masks, and directional arrows, one of the biggest changes to the thrift shopping experience has been the closing of fitting rooms.

I’m not entirely sure why this is standard practice. Most for-profit clothing stores allow customers to try clothes on and they are most certainly NOT laundering those clothes in between fittings. Used clothing has already been worn but many thrift shops do launder their clothes before putting them on the floor, so I don’t see the difference.

Nonetheless, no access to fitting rooms is the norm; in fact, several thrift shops I’ve been in – including (evil) Value Village – have actually removed their fitting rooms entirely and at some thrift shops there’s conversation about not bringing them back. For the thrift shop owners, this makes some sense. Removing the fitting rooms creates more floor space for product. Fitting rooms are also a source of irritation since they are often left a mess and when your workforce is mostly volunteer based, you often don’t have enough staff to keep up with the tidying. Even though shops limit the number of items one takes into a room, this is where theft often happens. So removing the rooms altogether is an advantage for the shop owner. For the shopper, not so much.

A fabulous fitting room at Living Planet, a retail shop in St. John’s NFLD

Not being able to try clothing on means you’re taking a chance with each purchase. Part of the problem is that the size assigned to a piece of clothing is meaningless. Size 10 at H&M or Old Navy is not the same as size 10 at Northern Reflections or MEC. With thrift purchases you have the added possibility that the item has been incorrectly washed by the previous owner and has shrunk. Because many clothing manufacturers are now adding spandex to everything (I am not complaining about this!) sizing has become even trickier. So not being able to try something on makes purchasing a challenge.

Simple fitting rooms in the Mission Thrift Shop in Ottawa

If you could take something home and return it, it would make it slightly less inconvenient but nearly all thrift shops are “all sales final.” (Evil) Value Village does allow you to return an item within 2 weeks but not for refund nor for store credit: you must find something of equal value on the day you return the item. This is pretty smart on their part because typically, you end up spending even more.

Bought three capris today at MCC Centre Thrift in Abbotsford. The ones I’m wearing fit great, the other two, not at all, so they’ll be going back!

So, mostly, you hold up a piece of clothing in front of a mirror, you stretch it across your body, and you guess. Given that most of your purchases are cheap, you’re willing to take the risk, and you justify it by telling yourself that you’re making a donation to charity. I’ve only recently returned to thrift shopping (mostly because of my own pandemic-caused, mental health anxiety issues) and in 3 shopping excursions I’d say I’ve gotten it right 50% of the time. Given that I return the items back to the thrift shop from which I’ve purchased them, that’s a pretty sweet deal for the thrift shop.

And since I genuinely support the charities that these shops represent, I’m mostly okay with that. But I think that at the end of the pandemic, I’d like to see fitting rooms return.

What do you think?

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Pledge to Thrift

This fun image I shamelessly borrowed from MCC Thrift’s Facebook page! you should follow them!

An MCC Thrift post this week reminded me that this week is Fashion Revolution Week, tomorrow (April 22) is Earth Day, and it’s time to take the #ThriftFirst pledge. All of these events remind us that if we want to live in a better world, then we have to do our part to make it so.

The Bangladesh garment factory, just after its collapse.

Fashion Revolution Week began after the Rana Factory collapse in 2013 that killed more than 1000 sweatshop workers toiling away in unsafe conditions to create cheap clothing that we demand.

Me, privileged enough to hike the Quiraing, Isle of Skye, Scotland, one of the most pristine places I have visited

Earth Day reminds us that we must behave differently if we want to save our planet. Given that we have no other place to live, you’d think we’d take that more seriously.

And the Thrift First pledge is a reminder that the choices we make are part of protecting both people and planet. The Thrift First pledge is exactly that – a pledge to choose thrift first when making a purchase.

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

If you visit the “about” section here or read my first blog post, you’ll find the words I wrote when I launched Thrift Shopper for Peace in 2011. I shared the many reasons that I choose thrift first. Thrifting is good for the environment because it reduces waste and diverts things from the landfill. Thrifting supports charitable work in your neighbourhood since most thrift shops are set up by charities to support their ministry. Thrift encourages volunteerism, since most shops (the best ones, I think) are primarily staffed by volunteers – good for the community, good for one’s mental health, and good for the charity they serve. The bonus, of course, is that you also save money.

Thrift is a way of life for me so taking the Thrift First Pledge was not a hardship but it was a good reminder that this is important. When you take the pledge, your challenge is to commit to reducing textile waste by looking for clothing before you think about purchasing new clothing for a year. MCC will send you a guide to thrifting and you’ll have a chance to win a gift card to an MCC Thrift Shop (so this perk is for those living in North America). Their website has lots of helpful tips and information about the impact that thrifting makes.

Friends, this is such a simple way to make a real impact in the world. If you’ve never shopped thrift before, read my second blog post – shopping thrift is different from shopping retail; think of yourself as a treasure hunter! Take the Thrift First Pledge and see for yourself what a difference it can make!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Comments Off on Pledge to Thrift

Adventures in Paska

I baked paska this weekend. I don’t do this every year like some of my friends do; that’s because my first experience with this traditional, Mennonite sweet bread was a mitigated disaster. As I look back on that, I realize that it had a lot to do with lack of experience… and possibly old yeast.

I used this recipe from The Mennonite Treasury. Take note of my own notes in the margins. This cookbook is a truly a treasure and was created in a time when most women were experienced cooks and home-makers by default. Most of these recipes are a simple list of ingredients with directions like “mix together, place in medium oven, bake until done” because any Mennonite woman worth her weight in salt would know what that meant.

Also, note the sheer volume of ingredients: 16 eggs! For 8 cups of flour? Every recipe in this book is made for families with 12 children. My disaster started with yeast that was likely old because my dough (two huge doughs, apparently) did not rise. I let it sit for something like 18 hours. I made loaves and baked them anyway (probably figuring I wasn’t going to waste 16 frickin’ eggs!) They came out as bricks and I think it threw all but one away… I kept one in the freezer in case I needed to knock someone unconscious.

Fast-forward 30+ years, a LOT more experience, and a far more reasonable recipe from the Mennonite Girls Can Cook website. Not only is this a reasonable recipe, it has DETAILED instructions (i.e. if your yeast doesn’t foam, throw it away and start over!), and pictures!

It is still a day-long commitment – 3 risings representing the 3 days of waiting for Jesus to rise from the grave – and worth the effort. (I didn’t use raw egg in the icing because my great-nephew will get one of these and it’s not recommended for kids.)

Here’s the fun thing, though: even though I used a new recipe, I still used the same mixing bowl, the same measuring cups and spoons, and the same loaf pans that I used 3 decades ago. The measuring cups and spoons were a wedding gift, the bowl and loaf pans came from my mom to help me set up my kitchen as a newlywed. The pans have that great patina to them that comes from years and years of use; they don’t need a ton of greasing because of that. It just feels super special to me that these things have lasted so long, used over and over again as I’ve honed my skills as a cook and baker. Both the tools and I have improved with experience!

Happy Easter!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Rediscovering Slow Communication

It has been a while since I’ve written. It’s been a while since I’ve been thrift shopping. This pandemic has been a revealing experience in so many ways. In some ways, I’ve been grateful for the forced slowness of life: my evenings are no longer filled with meetings, events, or gatherings. Instead, my sweetheart and I ensure that we are going for a walk each day, I’m re-reading beloved novels, I do crosswords, and I’ve revived my love for writing letters.

There’s something about slow communication that is really special. It takes time to write a sentence in long-hand, cursive, writing. Unless you want your missive to be filled with scribbles, you think through your sentence before you write it because you can’t just back-space and re-compose. It’s thought-full.

I have a lovely little writing desk – I don’t think it’s antique but it feels like it – that I inherited from a friend of my mom’s who passed away several years ago. I store my stationery, journals, and books on writing here.

Most of my stationery is thrifted. There’s something fun about finding pretty writing paper and using a quality pen. I’ve had inkwell pens before but they tend to blob, so I stick to ballpoint – but the wooden one I have here, a gift from my sweetheart, is pretty special.

I wonder if anyone has ever used this kind of stationery before? I picked up this package for 75 cents years ago and have started using it again. you write on the back of it, fold it over and stick it shut with a sticker ( I reinforce it with scotch tape.) You can see where the stamp goes. It’s cool because it eliminates the need for an envelope but it does limit your writing field.

After a previous blog, where I mentioned that I had run out of envelopes, a friend delivered an enormous box of empty envelopes, saved from a card shop. So now I’ve not only got lovely paper to write on but I’ve also got quality envelopes to send my letters in.

I’ve written dozens and dozens of letters in this past year of pandemic and am truly thrilled whenever someone writes me back. Some send me home made cards with their children’s artwork. Some have painted beautiful paintings on card stock or made amazing photos cards. Others have written back on cards or paper that they too have thrifted. The medium doesn’t matter to me, it’s the content that I love… the fact that someone took the time to respond, slowly, thoughtfully… this is what matters to me. It’s something that I hope will survive the pandemic.

What gifts have you discovered in this past year?

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Rediscovering Slow Communication

Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Local

I love the Advent Season

There is no doubt about it, this is going to be an unusual Christmas. It will be a season that can either bring out the best in us or the worst in us, in every way. For those of us living in BC, we’ve heard Dr. Bonnie Henry end every pandemic update with a variation of these words: be kind, be calm, be safe and if we would but heed these words, we’d get through this well – not just physically, but mentally and spiritually too.

Another emphasis, especially this past week as Black Friday approached us, was on local. If you are privileged enough to have money left to spend this Christmas, support your local businesses and charities (and if you don’t, if you are stretched already, please do not feel pressured into spending what you do not have or feel guilty for needing to be frugal – easy words for me to write, but I hope you can take them to heart!)

Here’s what my sweetheart and I have committed to doing this year:

Thrift Local

i love the beeswax candles from Ten Thousand Villages – they smell like honey!

If you’re a thrifter, you already know that your local thrift shop is a treasure trove of things for Christmas: cards, wrapping, ribbons and bows, trees and wreathes, anything you need for decorating, and of course, ugly Christmas sweaters. Our family always has an Advent Wreath and light a candle each Sunday leading up to Christmas Day, when we light the centre Christ Candle. My wreath is a little untraditional – instead of greenery, I have pine cones (found or thrifted), set in an IKEA tray that I found at a thrift shop. The golden-hued candles are beeswax, purchased at Ten Thousand Villages, the Christ Candle, I picked up at MCC for $1.

At Life’s Second Chance thrift shop, I picked up this fantastic book of Christmas Carols produced by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The artwork is gorgeous!

Each carol comes with simple music and a guitar chord chart, and is illustrated with artwork from the museum. It’s a fantastic addition to my collection of Christmas books, and it only cost me $2.50.

Buy Local

this should keep us busy for a bit, eh?

My sweetheart is adamant that this year, we support local businesses rather than give Mr. Bezos our money. So that’s what we’re doing: gift cards from local cafes and restaurants, presents from neighbourhood stores (that actually were priced the same as what I would have gotten them for on Amazon!), and all wrapped in colour comics that I save all year long to use as wrapping paper. One of our traditions is to do a puzzle each Christmas, often purchased at thrift shops. This year, I chose to buy a new one at one at House of James, one of our local stores, to support them instead.

Give Local

My sweetheart and I got our ugly Christmas sweater masks from the Whitecaps, who sell these as a fundraiser to support the Vancouver Aquarium

December 1st is Giving Tuesday and every charity knows that the Christmas season is when people give generously. I have worked nearly my whole career for charities and work closely with fundraisers, so I know how important this time of year can be. When you give, it’s important to know where your money goes and how much of it actually goes to support the cause itself.

I’m going to shamelessly put a plug in for the organization that I work for: Communitas Supportive Care Society. We are a local charity, serving people who live with developmental disabilities, mental health challenges, and acquired brain injury. We serve in the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, and the Okanagan. This year, four local community champions have come together to match all Christmas donations to Communitas up to $40,000, which means we can potentially raise $80,000. That is the power of a community coming together. You can support this 40for80 campaign here.

My sweetheart and I are also supporting other local causes close to our hearts – Camp Squeah (where we met,) Gallery 7 Theatre, Cyrus Centre, the foodbank, and others. Writing that out makes it sound like we’re super wealthy – we’re not, by most standards, and I don’t share these things with you to brag or make it look like we’re somehow better than others. We’re not wealthy but we are fortunate. We have been so blessed to be able to continue to work throughout this pandemic, we have food on table, a roof over our heads, a close, caring family and network of friends, and we do NOT take any of this for granted. There may come a season in our lives when we may not be able to do this. We know that the difference between being on the giving end or the receiving end is sometimes only one tragedy away. So this is a way to give back, with gratitude, for what we have, because we can.

My fervent wish is that anyone reading this will find joy this season, even in the midst of this pandemic. Be kind. Be Calm, Be Safe. Think local.

Posted in christmas, second hand, thrift, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping, thrift shops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Stigma of Thrift

CBC Books recently announced the winner of their 2020 Nonfiction Prize. Writer, editor, and communications specialist from Burnaby, Jonathan Poh, won for his piece titled ValueVillage. Naturally, the title piqued my interest!

What begins as a story about his distaste for the smell of thrift shops evolves into a brilliantly written story about stigma, racism, and status. Much of his story is similar to mine: an immigrant family struggling to get established in their newly adopted homeland discovers thrift shopping as a way to live frugally. Unlike Jonathan, I was born in Canada, but my parents were immigrants like his and, out of necessity, lived a very frugal lifestyle. I too wore second-hand clothing and sometimes wished that I could just have something new, something with a brand-name. I too wanted to be like everyone else.

But the great difference between Jonathan’s experience and mine, is that I did not have to live with the racism that was heaped upon Jonathan. I have the privilege of being white, so I didn’t live with the same kind of shame and stigma that Jonathan experienced. He tells the story of finding a Puma jacket in Value Village that he snapped up for $10, finally finding something with a coveted brand-name that he could wear to school with pride. But the bullies saw right away that the jacket wasn’t new. They teased him mercilessly and nick-named him “Value Village.”

me and my sister and our 76 VWBug… pretty sure all clothes and the car in this image were second hand!

My mom also shopped at thrift shops and my sister and I wore hand-me-downs from cousins. Mostly we didn’t mind – and often loved getting the clothes we’d admired on our older cousins. But I distinctly remember one year when I had to wear a jacket that made me ashamed.

My grandfather worked in the janitorial department at Sears. This job brought with it the unique opportunity to bring home items that were returned, damaged, or discarded for other reasons. We still sit on solid oak chairs that my “Opa” brought home over 40 years ago from “the garbage.” That’s how we always talked about it: “Look what Opa brought home from the garbage at Sears.” It took me years to realize that he didn’t actually work in a department store landfill.

One of 8 solid oak chairs that have been in our family for decades.

One winter, he brought home a sky blue ski jacket that looked as if someone had spilled acid all along the bottom of it. My Aunt Erna, who is a wizard with a sewing machine, had some matching fabric that she used to sew a border around the bottom of the jacket, skillfully covering the damage. Then, the jacket was given to me. I was mortified. Wear a jacket from “the garbage”?! No way!

Thing was, I needed a winter jacket. So, mom gave me the ultimatum: wear this one until you can save your allowance to buy your own new one. Or freeze to death.

So I wore it. The kids made fun of me. I survived. I wish I had a photo of it to show you because I bet it wasn’t nearly as horrible as I remember it!

And somehow, the experience of living frugally didn’t turn me off of thrift shopping. Instead, I discovered the value of saving money and finding unique items that others coveted and couldn’t get because I had the only one, found in the treasure trove of a thrift shop. Today, it’s still the first place I go to get something I need.

My first thrift purchase with my own money – a sweater bought in the late 70s, that i still own!

I wonder if things are changing. Is there still stigma around thrift shopping? Have stores like Value Village actually made thrift shopping sexy? Is there actually a thrift shop smell? I sure don’t relate to that part of his tale.

Jonathan’s story is well worth a read. It is a well-crafted piece of writing and gives you lots to think about it. In so many ways, it’s not about thrift shopping at all – it’s about the impact of growing up as the child of immigrants, of living with the stigma of perceived poverty, of ‘otherness.” Check it out and then tell me your story!

Posted in thrift, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on The Stigma of Thrift

Revisiting a Comox Gem

Last month, my sweetheart and I took a much needed break to beautiful Vancouver Island. We spent time hiking in forests, walking on beaches, trying local beers and spirits, and, of course, thrift shopping.

I revisited a little shop with a clever name in Comox: Too Good To Be Threw. I visited this shop back in 2013 – or at least, I visited the shop that existed on 6th street. That shop was damaged in a fire in January 2019 and although they are hoping to return to that location, they are still in process. In the meantime, they have two locations and I visited the one on Puntledge St.

First, I was impressed by the COVID protocols in place. The shop is tiny compared to the original, so only 12 customers in the store at a time. A friendly volunteer greeted me and engaged me in conversation while I waited to get in. They also had a table of odds and ends outside for waiting customers to explore.

Once inside, I was again impressed with their organization, cleanliness, and atmosphere. They’ve done a lot with a very small space and the quality of their product is good.

One of the challenges of thrift shops in a time of COVID is the inability to try clothing on, so I have found that I have not purchased much by way of clothing since the pandemic began. But I did find something to spend my pennies on. The Airbnb we were staying in had a huge TV and lots of movies but none we really wanted to watch. So we purchased two here: one we’d already seen (Devil Wears Prada) and one we’d read about but not seen (Manchester by the Sea). Both were in great condition and while they are wildly different movies, both were excellent. We love a good story, well told, by good actors.

This shop supports the Comox Valley Transition Society, which offers services to women and children fleeing violence. If you’re in the area, it’s worth your visit and your support!

Posted in movies, second hand, thrift, Thrift Shopping, thrift shops | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Revisiting a Comox Gem

The Force of Thrift

Aaron and Angelika a few years ago, wearing our “Force for Change” t-shirts

Our family cannot understate the influence that Star Wars has had on us. I clearly remember seeing the film, back in the 70s, at the old Fraser Theatre in Vancouver. It completely captured my imagination. I wanted it to be real. I fell in love with Luke Skywalker (the blue eyes, I think). I loved the whole concept of the Force and being a young, enthusiastic Christian, I likened it to the Spirit. Everything about it was awesome.

Fast-forward many, many years and I am happily married and we have a son in kindergarten who sees Star Wars on TV. That encounter set the direction of much of his life. The prequels were coming out and so not only did the original series air on TV but there were documentaries about the making-of and 60 Minutes did a show on director George Lucas. When Aaron discovered that the studio that backed George’s film American Graffiti edited 15 minutes out of his movie, Aaron was outraged. He applauded George’s determination to make the Star Wars films on his own terms. He also decided – at age 5 – that he was going to be a movie director. He has since graduated from Capilano University with a diploma in motion picture arts and is working in the industry.

The other thing that has had a huge impact on Aaron’s life, is thrift shopping. He has both volunteered and worked in a thrift shop and understands the difference between thrift and retail shopping – the idea that you don’t go in to get what you want, you go in to see what you’ll find. It’s the thrill of finding treasure that brings you back.

So when Aaron’s Star Wars world and his Thrift world collided a couple of weeks ago, the impact was felt across galaxies. My son found the motherlode of treasures.

These are table games played with miniature model ships from the Star Wars world

When he walked into the local MCC Clothing Etc thrift shop and saw some Star Wars ships, he made a beeline for them. What he found was a collection of collectible, model ships that are all part of an elaborate table top game called The X-Wing Miniatures Game. He saw a $50 price tag and assumed it was for The Millennium Falcon alone; turns out, it was for the whole collection. It was one of those experiences where he calmly gathered up the whole thing and made his way to the cashier, while inside he’s thinking “Start-the-car-start-the-car-start-the-car!!!”

The Millennium Falcon

Side view. Aaron is also a photographer. can you tell? just wait…

When he got it home and unpacked the lot, this is what he ended up with: 32 small ships, 5 large ships.

the haul.

all the good guys

all the bad guys

After doing some research on Amazon and eBay, he learned more. All the ships are part of what are called “expansion packs” whether they are sold as individual ships or as sets. They include different pilot cards and game scenarios.

Boba Fett, the bounty hunter, flew this Slave I. which, according to Wookieepedia, is a prototype Firespray 31 class patrol and attack ship. so there.

Another bad guy ship, Lambda T4-a shuttle

The cheapest ship is worth $20, the most expensive was listed at $113. A few are very rare and out of print. The total value of the collection is just over $1450. All that treasure for just fifty bucks. Aaron had purchased the starter set (on the left) from a different thrift shop a few years ago for $20. This set came with a duplicate of that set and the Force Awakens (on the right).

The X-Wing Starfighter – the one that the dreamy Luke Skywalker flew – leads the pack. Gotta end with a good guy, right?

What warmed my heart, was that he drove straight from the thrift shop to our house to show us. When you find treasure that good, you have to share it with someone who will understand, right? That’s the Force of Thrift.

What’s your amazing thrift find story?

Posted in second hand, Star Wars, thrift, thrift legends, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Force of Thrift

They’re Baaaaack!

After months of closure and isolation, thrift shops are back in business, bringing in much needed funds for the charities they support. And thrift shoppers are ecstatic.

the line to get inside started out here, wound its way through the large atrium and then into the store; surprisingly only took about 15 minutes to get in

Yesterday, as I waited in line to go into the MCC Centre Thrift Shop in Abbotsford, a mom and her two (I’m guessing) middle-school-aged daughters were just ahead of me, the girls talking excitedly about the opportunity to shop thrift again. When the shop manager let them in, one of the girls threw her hands in the air in elation and ran into the shop. It was pretty heart-warming to see that kind of enthusiasm in a young person for thrift shopping.

sigh. sorry for the blurry photo. my second-hand iphone4 needs to be replaced!

When I last posted, I referenced my mom: an 82-year-young volunteer who was suddenly out of things to do because of the pandemic. She too was ecstatic when the volunteer coordinator contacted her to tell her that the store would be opening again. Still, she was a bit apprehensive. Would there be enough hand-sanitizer? Would there be plexi-glass? Would she and her fellow volunteers be safe? All of these questions are valid, given that the vast majority of volunteers are vulnerable seniors.

To their credit, the managers of mom’s thrift shop have done a pretty good job of ensuring the safety of their volunteers. First of all, this particular shop is huge, so the fact that only 50 shoppers are allowed in at a time, makes managing people quite reasonable. (What’s mind-boggling to me is that each of those shoppers gets a 2 hour time limit. TWO HOURS. Imagine if you’re shopper #51.)

sorting and hanging jewelry is one of my mom’s favourite things to do

Donations are well processed. Donations are limited to two days a week with minimal hand contact between donor and volunteer (they take it out of your trunk.) This particular store has the luxury of a heat room, so everything that is donated that can go into the heat room does. Everything that can’t sits in quarantine for 72 hours before being sorted. I kinda think this should always happen. I think one of the bonuses of this system for the volunteers is that it also gives them enough time to manage the volume of donations they receive.

you can see the directional arrows on the floor and aisles are clearly marked or roped off

The fitting rooms and bathroom are not open to the public and there’s no trying clothes on in the aisles. Aisles are uni-directional with arrows everywhere and social distancing tape in the cashier line is clearly 6 feet apart. There is hand-sanitizer at the door where you come in and in various places throughout the store. Mom works at the jewelry counter where there is no plexi, so she wears a mask and has her own sanitizer for the counter and trays that she uses religiously (Honestly, my mother was made for this pandemic. She will totally continue the sanitizing regime after COVID is done, guaranteed.)

Can you see the gaps between plexi and the way the cashier is in direct contact with the shoppers?

The only weak spot that I observed when I went to shop for the first time yesterday was at the cashier itself. They have plexi in front of the till but there are huge gaps between tills, the POS unit doesn’t have tap so hands have to touch it, and I didn’t observe meticulous hand-sanitizing. The gaps allow for product to easily pass from one side of the till to the other but it doesn’t actually keep the cashier separated from the shopper. None of the volunteers were wearing masks. I feel like that might be something they could strongly recommend, especially given all the new information that is coming out about the effectiveness of wearing masks.

I was happy to be back shopping only because there were two things that I was specifically looking for: greeting card envelopes (I’ll soon blog about why I need that) and a 5 disc CD player. Which one of those things do you think I found?

The 5 disc CD player now complements our 25 year old Technics tuner!

This Technics player was in mint condition, came with a remote (which made my sweetheart’s heart sing), and was only $25. The Sony we had purchased about 15 years ago (and paid $10 for at that time) was starting to add its own harmonies to my CDs, which was only welcome some of the time.

And yes. I still listen to CDs. Every single day – I do my morning yoga in the living room in front of the CD player and then it just plays for the rest of the morning, especially now that we’re both working from home.

So, no envelopes but a new-to-me CD player. Yay!

Have you been back thrifting? Tell me what you’ve found!

Posted in CDs, second hand, thrift, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping, thrift shops, Volunteering | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on They’re Baaaaack!

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