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!

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

Festivals for the Frugal

Harrison Lake is pretty spectacular on a sunny day

My sweetheart and I love going to all kinds of festivals, especially if they have free or inexpensive options. This summer, we attended the Harrison Festival of the Arts (HFA). This festival runs for a week each July and might be the best kept secret in the world.

HFA is truly an arts festival: there are theatre presentations, literary readings, music concerts, workshops and a fantastic arts/crafts market. Some of the concerts/events are free and some you pay for but the costs are really affordable.

Mid-week, we saw an amazing performance of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night put on by the Chilliwack School of Performing Arts for only $17.50 – when was the last time you paid that little for excellent theatre? The staging, the projection/lighting, the sound, and the acting, all superb. If you get a chance to see this anywhere, take it!

The Aerialists

We returned to HFA on Friday and took in two free concerts on the beach: The Aerialists, a band made up of Canadians and one Scotswoman, who play an eclectic mix of folk/jazz/indie/rock featuring violin and harp.

their harpist is originally from the Isle of Skye in Scotland

Their violinist studied Norwegian folk music so their music has a cool blend of that, gaelic fiddle tunes, and jazz

We first discovered them at the Jazz Festival last summer. We loved them so much, we were thrilled to be able to hear them again.

Afro-Cuban band, Okan

Then we were introduced to Okan, a Cuban/African band that defies genrifying. Super high energy, tons of fun.

amazing percussion

so much energy!

These women look like they stepped out of Harlem but sound like they stepped out of Cuba… which they did. Their music was infectious.

And then, dear reader, we took in Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hell Raisers. I know, right? Best name ever. We read about Dwayne in the Vancouver Sun and when I read “blues accordion”, I said, “What?”, watched a You Tube video, and promptly bought tickets. Friends, this was maybe the best concert I’ve ever been to – ever – and it cost me $25.

Dwayne and Paul, the washboard guy, took their instruments to a whole new level of art. it was unreal.

For $25, we got 3 hours of fantastic music, amazing musicianship, and unreal entertainment. The Harrison Hall is a small venue, so no bad seats in the room. The sound and lights were great. They even served local craft beers at the concession.

he played like a madman AND he could sing!

The band had us dancing, clapping and singing along from the get-go. Dwayne and his washboard player came off the stage and into the crowd and played right amongst us.  They came out during intermission to sign CDs and interact with the audience. The second half was just as energetic and entertaining as the first. We had a solid 3-hour concert – for $25!

I truly appreciate festivals that recognize that not all of us can spend, say $90, (the cost for a weekend pass at the Mission Folk Festival ) or $160 (the cost for the same thing at the Vancouver Folk Festival ), even if that is a smokin’ deal for a whole weekend of really great music. While both of these events let children under 12 in free, neither of them offer free events to the public.

Other festivals, like the TD International Jazz Festival, the Vancouver Children’s Festival, the Vancouver Writer’s Festival, all offer some free things throughout their run. I believe that it’s these free events that create loyal consumers who keep coming back and eventually may be able to afford to pay for ticketed events. At each of the events I just mentioned, I discovered artists I would not have found on my own and have purchased their work. I think that’s a win/win.

Other events around my area, like Jam in Jubilee (a weekly free concert series in Jubilee Park in Abbotsford, every Thursday in July) are fully free, exposing audiences to new, up-and-coming musicians. There’s always a crafts market, food trucks, beer/wine garden – it’s a great way to spend a summer evening. I say “free” but I realize that events like this actually cost organizers who work hard at getting grants and other sources of funding to make these things available to the public. These small arts councils give a whole new definition to the word “frugal” so it behooves us to support those who make these events happen.

What’s your favourite festival and why?

Posted in festivals, free, free concerts, frugal living, thrift, thrift lifetstyle | Tagged , , , ,

By the Side of the Road

The thrifting ethic runs deep in my family – I think we may actually have developed a gene (which sounds so much better than “addiction”, doesn’t it?)

Alivia in one of her natural happy places

My niece, Alivia, may actually put most of my family to shame. I visited her in the little basement suite she shares with her equally thrifty hubby, Luke. She indicated that nearly 90% of the things they own are either thrifted, gifted, or “found by the side of the road.”

So, naturally, I asked where exactly that road is.

Luke and Alivia on their honeymoon, hiking in Hawaii

While some of her furniture was, indeed, found and some gifted by family, other pieces come with a cool story.

love the wall display above the futon

They found this futon on Craig’s List and when they went to pick it up they just naturally started a conversation with the couple who were selling. They discovered that they all attend the same church and when the couple discovered that Luke and Alivia were relatively newlyweds as well as volunteers in the church, they gifted them the futon.

This beautiful wooden kitchen table was made by Alivia’s uncle, who is a gifted finish carpenter. I believe the chairs were also found by the side of the road.

Luke is working on honing these skills too. He is studying to be a high school trades teacher and has begun to create unique pieces for their home like this dog dish holder for Seymour.

That’s Seymour – Alivia says even her dog is second-hand.

Luke also made this beautiful bench, made from a reclaimed Cultas Lake park bench.

isn’t the pallet deck a great idea?

The teak patio table and chairs were found on that road she keeps talking about. The patio itself was made from palettes that Luke refinished and painted.

Consider this the “before” photo…

The canoe has its own story that I will tell you another day.

Mid-century modern chair, found.

moose antlers. also found. RIGHT?

Alivia and her dad built this kitchen island together

Luke built this nightstand. The bed linens were thrifted at (evil) Value Village

 

and then there’s this. also found by the side of the road by Luke. his favourite, apparently – not hers. but you know, with new cushions could be a pretty skookum chair!

Alivia has always been a thrifter, finding great deals on clothes and household items at brick-and-mortar thrift shops as well as online forums (oh, and that road, of course.) What’s encouraging to me is that this ethic/attitude seeps into most areas of their lives. She and Luke value things handed down to them and being able to reuse or recycle as much as possible. Alivia works for Parks, primarily at Cultas Lake in BC. Her love for the outdoors informs her care for the environment, something that thrifting is naturally a part of.

Now, if only she’d tell me where that road is…

Have you ever scored something great at the side of the road?

 

Posted in free stuff, hand-made, reclaimed, recycling, repurposing, second hand, simple living, thrift, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping, used furniture | Tagged , , , , , ,

Yoga on a Budget

high crescent lunge – taken at Haven Yoga and Wellness, by one of my yoga teachers, Dawn

So some of you may know that I did my yoga teach training last fall at Haven Yoga and Wellness in Abbotsford. Yoga has become a way of life for me, a practice that I have incorporated into my daily routine at home as well as at Haven where I am still a student (now a teacher, always a student!) The word “yoga” means “union” – the union of body, soul, and mind – and it is exactly this holistic experience that attracts me. It has simply become an essential part of my life.

I recognize, though, that yoga can be challenging for some budgets. Here are some ideas for those who want to pursue this practice but need to keep costs down:

  1. Practice at home with a video or online instructor

check our Adriene’s youtube channel

This is actually how I began my practice. I found a $2 yoga video at my local thrift shop and bought a $10 mat at (evil) Walmart. I have since upgraded to a much better, Halfmoon yoga mat (bought at Winners) but I still use an online yoga class when I travel. I really like Yoga with Adriene, a sweetheart of a girl from Austin, Texas. Not only are these options cost-effective but they offer the most flexibility. You can do it in the privacy of your own home whenever it is most convenient for you. The downside is that you have to be disciplined if you’re going to make this your only practice. It’s too easy to say no to yourself. The other downside is that you don’t have an experienced teacher’s eyes on you, ensuring that you are doing a pose correctly and you could run the risk of injury. These are just things to remember if you choose this option but it is a good way to get started. You can combine a home practice and hit a yoga studio once a month to get advice and ensure that you’re practicing safely.

  1. Practice at your local rec centre

The Matsqui Rec Centre in Abbotsford

Typically, yoga classes at your rec centre are less expensive than at a yoga studio – but there’s a reason for that. You will not get the same ambience or access to props that you get at a good studio. Yoga teachers here may not be paid as well as they are in a studio setting either, so you may end up with teachers who have less experience. That said, I attended a class at my local rec centre with the same teacher for nearly a decade and loved the experience. (I quit when the rec centre didn’t renew her contract, even under great protest from all of her students.)

  1. Take advantage of free classes

June 21st is Global/International Yoga Day and many studios and teachers offer free classes on this day (and other times of year as well) as a way to give back to the community. You can sometimes find free classes at festivals or on summer holiday days (like Canada Day). Haven Yoga and Wellness in Abbotsford is offering a variety of things on Saturday, June 22nd all for free: an early morning hike, several classes and some workshops. Check out their website and sign up!

  1. Find a studio and explore what they offer

child’s pose, also taken at Haven, photo by Dawn. Haven has a very clean, white esthetic and i love the way the windows are mirrored in the floor in this shot. the studio is, for me, very much a haven.

Many studios will offer a deal for first time students. In Abbotsford, Abby Yoga offers beginners to their Iyengar classes, their first class for $10. Haven has a great deal where you pay $35 and take as many classes as you want in a two week period. They also make their studio, with all of its props, available to use for free (without an instructor) at certain times of the week. Parallel Yoga offers first time students a free class and an introductory offer of a month of yoga for $49.These are excellent opportunities to find out what a studio is like, the kinds of amenities they have on hand, and which classes suit you best.

tree pose at Juniper Point, Lighthouse Park, West Vancouver. photo by John Dawson. if you try tree pose, don’t do it like i am in this photo! your foot should always be either above or below your knee joint – hard to do with hiking boots on!

For those of you who practice yoga, what other suggestions do you have for people who are looking to incorporate this practice into their lives?

Posted in balance, thrift, thrift lifetstyle, yoga | 2 Comments

Tupperware – good or evil?

This May, my sweetheart and I will celebrate 33 years of marriage. (I know, right? And mostly bliss, for which I am very, very grateful.) Lately, I’ve been taking note of all the things that I still use regularly that we received as wedding gifts: casserole dishes, mixing bowls and measuring cups, serving platters… and Tupperware.

I love these cups and spoons – the shape of the spoons especially – but the spoons are so worn they don’t stay in the holder ring anymore.

I know that plastic is generally evil but honestly, if it lasts three decades, that’s gotta count for something, doesn’t it? (or is that the whole point? that it never dies?) I am trying to weed single-use plastics out of my life. I use cloth shopping bags. I have mesh produce bags and reuse the plastic ones I have over and over and over. I have stainless steel smoothie cups with stainless steel straws. I have stainless steel containers with silicone lids that I use for taking leftovers to lunch. I have glass ones as well but they have pathetic, plastic lids that do not last.

one of the motivators for getting more Tupperware was an infestation of cupboard moths last fall.

yup. more storage.

and i LOVE these spice containers. and clearly, i like spices that start with “c”.

Which brings me back to Tupperware. This stuff was made to last and I have a lot of it. Large containers to store dry goods, the aforementioned measuring cups and spoons, smaller containers for storing leftovers, two crispers, and more. But after 33 years, some of the lids for these containers are starting to wear out and don’t seal* properly.

doors opened at 9:30. this was 9:31.

So when my local MCC Thrift Shop announced on Facebook that they were going to have a huge Tupperware sale, I made sure I was there on opening day. Me and several dozen other people who know the value of this product! It was reminiscent of the Army & Navy shoe sales in Vancouver, only a little more polite.

All this for $49.70

I bought a wide variety of things (for myself and for my son) at a fraction of what this would have cost me new.

I am still pondering whether or not I made a good decision here. I could have simply decided that instead of replacing my Tupperware with more plastic, I should replace it with something else. I really like my stainless steel except I don’t like it that I can’t see what’s inside. I like the glass but it’s heavy in my backpack when I’m walking home from work – and I already told you about the crappy lids. At the end of the day, I succumbed to my deep, thrifting instinct and just got more Tupperware.

What do you think? Did I make the right choice?

*I know, dear reader, that Tupperware will actually replace broken product in perpetuity but my stuff is so old, that they don’t actually make those lids any more.

Posted in MCC, second hand, thrift, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping, thrift shops | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Pop Up Thrift Shop

This pop-up thrift shop was in Abbotsford, BC

Yesterday, I visited a unique thrift venture by Generous Clothing – a pop-up thrift shop focused on vintage clothing in plus sizes. They took over an empty store-front in downtown Abbotsford and filled it with carefully curated clothes that the three founders have collected from all over the Pacific Northwest.

The shop was well organized and there was a wide variety of styles and sizes. They came up with their own sizing system, hanging items according to bust/waist/hip measurement ranges – which means they had to measure every piece of clothing! That’s a gift to their customers because, as we all know, sizing is NOT consistent between brands.

The shop also included accessories and their clothing was for every season. Everything that I looked at was clean and stain-free, so the curators really put effort into selecting items that were only gently used. It was pretty busy when I popped by, so clearly, this is something people are looking for.

I picked up this great wool blend long vest by Alfred Sung. It’s something I think I’ll wear forever, it’s such a classic look.

I also found a Lands End waffle cotton long-sleeved T. I love the quality of Lands End clothing, so when I find it in thrift shops and it fits, I buy it.

I love the idea of a pop-up for this kind of thing – it’s like a high end garage sale: doesn’t happen all the time and not always in the same location but when it does happen, it’s better quality stuff and there’s fitting rooms! The woman I spoke with at the check-out said that they are planning on doing this again, so follow them on Instagram and find out when their next pop-up shop will happen! Also, read this article from Vancouver is Awesome for more details on where they found their clothes and their motivation for creating this brand.

What do you think about pop-up shops?

Posted in second hand, thrift, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping, vintage | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thank a Woman for Thrift Shops

The founders of the first MCC Thrift Shop in Canada. (photo: Mennonite Central Committee)

It’s International Women’s Day today and it occurs to me that the thrift shop movement owes its existence to women. I once worked for Mennonite Central Committee, the relief, development and peace organization of the Mennonite and Brethren in Christ Churches in North America. One of the ways that MCC funds its international work is from money made by its hundreds of thrift shops – which are largely staffed by volunteers, most of which are women (although there are, indeed, men who also volunteer – better say that now before there is an outcry. )

This is from the MCC Thrift website:

In March of 1972, Linie Friesen, Selma Loewen, Susan Giesbrecht and Sara Stoesz (shown left to right above) opened the first MCC Thrift Shop in Altona, Manitoba with an expectation the project might last “three to six months.” The shop began to thrive and produced about $1,000. for MCC during the first six months of operation. More than forty years later, their vision for creative use of local clothing and household surpluses has grown to be a North American network of over 100 shops, producing income for the programs of Mennonite Central Committee – more than 16 million in the 2014/2015 fiscal year.

Not bad for a vision that was only supposed to last 6 months. The MCC thrift shops here in BC began a year later and for over 45 years have contributed millions of dollars to support MCC’s work around the world. These shops were also started by women.

I don’t know the detailed history is of other charity-based thrift shops but I do know that when I visit nearly any thrift shop, the majority of the people who are doing the work are women. (I also note that most of them are older – but I’m going to leave that thought for another blog post). So, when you hit a thrift shop today – or this month – thank the woman cleaning up the fitting room, hanging new stock, tidying the shelves, or working the till. Thank them for making a difference to the charity for which they volunteer. Thank them for helping to keep things out of the landfill. Thank them for creating spaces for volunteers. Thank them for helping us manage our budgets by offering affordable products.

Happy #InternationalWomensDay!

Posted in second hand, thrift, thrift legends, Thrift Shopping, thrift shops, Volunteering, women | Tagged , , , , , , ,