Back to School – the Thrift Way

Do you remember being a kid and shopping for back-to-school stuff? I don’t know that I loved school per se: I love learning, I had favourite teachers and subjects and school is where I made some of my best friends. Yet one ritual that sticks out for me was getting ‘new’ things for school each fall. I loved the look of pointy pencil crayons, the smell of new books, the smooth feel of new paper. And of course, at least one ‘new’ outfit to wear to school.

my little sister, a few years ago, first day of school. you can see the bottom corner of the “New to You” thrift shop sign. yes, that’s right, we grew up living above a thrift shop. i know, right?

I italicize ‘new’ because, of course, my mom thrifted most everything. While paper and pencil crayons were genuinely un-used (and probably bought at either Fields or Honest Nat’s Department Store – *48th and Fraser* – anyone remember that jingle?) other stuff was either home-made or thrifted at the MCC Thrift Shop or the now-gone Symphony’s New to You or the St. Vincent de Paul all on Fraser Street.

Now-a-days, big box stores seem to be the place to go to for school supplies – in particular for high-tech things like laptops or graphing calculators. Still, the thrifty shopper who plans ahead can probably find most things at thrift shops for a fraction of the cost of even the cheapest offerings at places like Zellers or Walmart.

Pencil crayons, crayons, scissors, rulers, pens, pencils and pencil cases can all be found year ‘round at any thrift shop. I bet if you hit a shop in late June early July (and even now) you might even score unused duotangs and paper, donated by the grad who is so happy to be out they never want to see those things again. Binders can always be found in abundance and back packs or what we used to call “school bags” are also in abundance.

my converse all-stars, which i love. maybe i`ll go back to school…

And of course there’s clothes. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to find the several sets of shoes kids seem to “need” for school these days what with indoor and outdoor shoe demands of most elementary schools. Get your new outfit at a thrift shop and you’ll save a ton of money – maybe even enough to buy that laptop or graphing calculator.

Finally, here’s a bit of shameless organizational promotion: If you live in the Abbotsford area, the MCC Abby East Thrift Shop is having a late night shopping opportunity with an emphasis on back-to-school (50% off for students k-12 and post-secondary) from 6-10 pm, August 30th. The best part of shopping here is that the funds raised by MCC Thrift Shops help children around the world go to school. I’ll be volunteering there – come say “hi” to me!

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4 Responses to Back to School – the Thrift Way

  1. Jen Burkholder says:

    great article, ang! yes, i remember the jingle and even recognized the thrift store. i got my first (and only) soccer cleats there. fields was a regular stop along fraser up until this summer. sadly, it has closed down. good thing mcc is still there 🙂
    love the photo of benita!

  2. Melanie] says:

    If I were in Abbotsford I’d definitely come down and say hello! Great sale. Your article reminded of the thrill of getting stationary for school – I always loved new notebooks.

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