When my parents were children, thrift wasn’t a luxurious option, it was reality. As immigrants to Canada, they had to work hard to make a better life for me and my sister. We were raised with an attitude of frugality that has stayed with us and that we have endeavoured to pass on to our children. So far it seems to have worked: our kids tend to think Thrift Shop first when spending their own money, recognizing that a dollar goes a lot further in a thrift shop than a retail store and they can still get cool stuff.
Since many of you are on Spring Break, here’s a great activity you can do with your kids while they’re out of school. Head to your nearest thrift shop and give each child a loonie or twoonie and tell them they can spend it on whatever they want. Now that you have their complete attention, give them a few guidelines to make the adventure a little more educational and interesting. Here’s the ABCs of your Thrift Shop Adventure.
Ask a Volunteer. Most Thrift Shops support a charity and are at least partially staffed by volunteers. Tell your children that before they leave the shop, they have to ask one volunteer to tell them about the charity that is supported by this shop. If your kids are really keen, they can also ask that person why they volunteer. You can share your findings on the walk/ride home.
Be respectful. Setting children loose in any shop can be a challenge for those staffing it. I volunteer in the toy section of a thrift shop and really appreciate it when parents stay with their children in the toy area. Unless a shop has a dedicated play space where you can leave your children while you shop, it’s best if you stick with your kids and use it as an opportunity to teach them good shopping manners: be gentle with things you remove from a shelf and put things back where you found them.
Consider carefully. So you’ve got two bucks burning a hole in your pocket – what will you spend it on? Will you buy one thing worth $2 or will you buy 20 things for 10cents each? Is it quality or quantity that counts? I always find this exercise so interesting. As a young child, my son was firmly in the latter camp – more is better. But now, as a young man, he has learned to be much more selective – probably because he’s spending his money and not mine.
On that note, you can choose to give your kids the cash to do this adventure or have them spend a dollar of their own – reminding them that they are supporting a good cause while they shop.
If you go on this Thrift Shop Adventure, I’d love to hear about your experience!