Monday, October 24, 2011

Tales of a Thriftaholic

After Steve Jobs died, I watched a speech that he gave at Stanford University’s 2005 graduation ceremony. It was a beautiful speech and one of the things that he discussed was finding your passion. Passion, passion, passion. That’s all I keep hearing these days and for the most part, it has frustrated me because I do not think that mine is clear cut. I mean, there are things that I enjoy doing, but nothing really keeps me up at night.

So, I was telling my friend how everyone always speaks on passion, and I wonder if I will ever find mine. She was “Err…you are into fashion and thrifting”. Fashion? Not really. Contrary to popular belief, I really don’t be checking for fashion like that. When I think of fashion, I don’t think of Fashion Week and all its cousins, the latest trends, what is in this season, and what will be out next season, and brand names. I’m not interested in any of the above. Now, on the other hand, I enjoy seeing good style. I peruse Tumblr for constant style candy, I read street style blogs whenever I get a chance (love, love street style…it’s as real time as it gets), and I selectively check some fashion blogger’s websites because I like their style. So yeah, I like style. But, when it comes to thrifting…yes Lawddd! As soon as my friend put this in perspective, I said ah, thrifting is indeed something that I have a serious love for…it might not keep me up at night, but it is something that I really enjoy doing and I figured, why not dedicate a post to it?

See, I have never turned my nose up at the “bend down select”, second hand wearing lifestyle…even going back to my days in PH, when babes would sneak into Oil Mill market on Wednesday mornings to charter the latest baffs straight from Cotonou (or so the traders claimed). I would drop N500 for a cute top and be feeling as funky as the next girl who got her own top from boutiques like Collectibles where tops were priced at N2000 +. A girl has never been ashamed of her game. It has never been about where I bought it from, but more about how I could put an outfit together. Coming over to Yanks, I fell off that life because I had not discovered thrift stores and didn’t know about the endless possibilities, so I resorted to the same ol’ same ol’ mall shopping runs. Then, I moved off to a college town and discovered a consignment store named Plato’s Closet (google it, they probably have one in your city). For those of you, who aren’t familiar with Plato’s, it is pretty much a buy-and-sell store where you buy clothes that someone else got tired of wearing and sold to the store, or you can sell your own clothes that you are tired of wearing…after all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Plato’s pretty much turned my College style game around. I went from dry baffs to straight up killin’ em :-D. I would walk into our college African Student Association meetings and folks would be like “damn, Mgbeke you no gree for us o”. I mean, the store was hooking me up with brands like Steve Madden, Nine West, H&M, Urban Outfitters, Bebe etc etc for $10 or less. I still have pieces that I copped from Platos dominating my closet today, including a pair of Leopard print pumps that I got for $10 that are currently a form of every day Jesus these days…

Unfortunately, after graduation, I moved away from my College town and missed the hell out of Plato’s. But, one day while running errands, I discovered a lonely looking Salvation Army store in my hood, and so I ventured in there and walked out with a sequin bandeau, a red mini skirt, and a black knee length leather skirt – all for less than $10. And that’s pretty much how I started thrifting. Shortly after that, my friends introduced me to the wonders of Value Village* thrift store and it was officially a wrap.
*If you’re into the thrifting lifestyle, Value Village always has way more cute finds than your typical Salvation Army/Goodwill (as I’ve noticed in the MD area). I think that all the stylish people donate to VV :-D.

Since then, thrifting has been a way of life…almost an addiction even (okay, who am I kidding? It’s addicting and I am an addict). Value Village has 25% off Thursdays, and back in the day, I was at VV like almost every single Thursday. You buy a huge bag full of clothes for less than $30? Hellooo, sign me up! Now, I’ve seriously calmed the heck down…but I still feel that rush of excitement every time I’m about to walk into a Thrift store…like “what am I going to find today?”, and trust me, I have found plenty. Gorgeous jumpsuits, dresses, tops, pants, skirts, coats and accessories that ranged from $2 to $20 max (with $20 being the priciest items). Absolutely winning on all levels. I do everything from high end thrifting (read: Organized consignment stores like Buffalo Exchange and Mustard Seed) to low end (taking it to Salvation Army, Goodwill, and Value Village)…all na thrifting.
I’m such a thriftaholic that I google thrift stores in every city that I visit, and swing by to see what I can find in that city. On that note, I still maintain that so far in my experience, California has the best thrift and vintage finds. Unparalleled.

All in all, thrifting has been good to me. I think that at this point, my closet is primarily composed of (a) Thrift store finds (b) Urban Outfitters attire (my 2nd great love...but let's not deviate from this topic). I get more bang for my buck...$20 can get me 4-5 items on a good day. I'm out there wearing $5 dresses, $3 tops and carrying $4 bags and feeling like a G6 while I'm at it. Plus, when you thrift you are primarily guaranteed to have one unique item that no one else will have...note that primarily is the key word. I will say though, that I do not buy into the whole idea of tagging everything that you thrift as "vintage". I've seen Forever21 attire at thrift stores, and last time I checked, that is far from vintage...but moving on...

On a final note, thrifting is definitely not for everyone. Not everyone can get with the idea of wearing something that was previously owned, and not brand new and shiny from a store in the Mall. Plus, not everyone has the patience to dig through thrift stores…and in the game of thrifting, you have to be patient. But hey, if you need help and wanna pay me…I will gladly thrift for you :-D.

Cheers.

PS:- 48, what happened to your blog?

21 comments:

lolo said...

First! Biko don't delete this o. I've been dying to carry first on someone's blog (especially one I like). I thought the heavens would open but no...still feels good. lol...make I go read.

Fragilelooks said...

as long as u know how to put the clothes together it don't matter how much it cost. lol.

Anonymous said...

Lol! I feel you jare! I am also always on the outlook for good bargains and can go all the way to outlet malls etc

But, like you said not everyone feels comfortable with using things others have previously used - I am one of such people. I just cannot use something someone who I don't know has used. I cannot even use real human hair on my head either even if given to me for free.

I have heard of clothes of dead people donated to charities and I usually cringe of the thought that someone else might be wearing them and have no idea of who has previously used them. Oh well...

Naija4Life said...

I don't know a lot about 'thrifting' but it's good you may have discovered your passion. I did also watch late Steve Job's 2005 Standford speech and was really inspired.

Nice blog though :)

Kelechi said...

Lol - Razz Girl

MPB said...

Oya oh...I live in Cininnati, OH. How do I find a thrift store? We do have a Plato's closet sha....but it is 20mins away and i hate driving.

mizchif said...

Giirrrrrrrrl!

Let us thank God for Amerix and the term "thrifting". Lord knows i been thrifting since back in the day in good ol Tej only that that time na "okirika" we dey cal am. Ain't no shame in my game, when #10,000 will give you jeans and top from collectibles in Tej it will buy you a whole outfit plus shoe, bag and accessories with change to enter bus and go home sef.

I blame you for introducing me to yelp! I mean now when i hit a new city and i have time to spare i sharply yelp my way to the nearest thrift store. Infact i can't wait to have my own place to decorate cuz i shall thrift a whole apartment when the time comes. lol.

P.S #themshoes

Tinu said...

I really want to learn how to thrift! I think i go expecting to find a $1000 bag for $1...lol

Myne Whitman said...

How much are you charging cos seriously I need me a stylist, lol...

Seriously though, I feel you on thrifting. I used to go to goodwill but I don't have the necessary patience so kept coming away with flubs. Have since shifted to TJ and Macys.

LohiO said...

I go thrifting once in a while. I mostly only buy blazers and earrings tho. Hopefully I can venture into finding cute dresses, skirts and the likes...:D

SHE said...

Oh well, now that you have identified that passion, do you want to turn it into a money making venture for yourself? But then, I suppose its already financially profitable. Look how much you save on clothes!

Mecca Qizu said...

Chineke! Plato na thrift store? Eziokwu, we get one Plato for Jersey Mall, na there I dey go arrange my suit dem! The suit make sense die sha, if na thrifting, then so be it, I am a proudly certified thrifter...In the words of Dos Equis, "I don't always thrift, but when I do, I pick Marshalls or Plato"! Stay thrifting my friends, itz all about the bargain!!! Excellent blog!

http://air-mecca.blogspot.com

Mecca Qizu said...

Swag control...turns out the store at the mall was Prato not Plato. Chai, I've declared my thrifting allegiance so itz too late to withdraw and claim Gucci.lol

Hyperfashun said...

i feel you on every level. That feeling of triumph when i'm walking out of the store with my stash and poppin my imaginary collar. haha *hi 5*

Ur lucky 2 have all those options. tej used 2 b d thrift mecca in Lagos but dey've bn havin problems wit d govt so dey closd it down.

The 'boutiques' r all about cuttin somebody's head wit their prices/fake market. So now i just buy my clothes straight frm obodo oyibo with the help of friends n relatives or i buy Nigerian.

Ginger said...

I totally admire your honesty here Mgbeke. Some would look down their noses and call it second hand good. Lets call it green shopping :)

Osondi, Owendi

LucidLilith said...

I looooove thrift stores. They always say one man's trash is another man's treasure. Consignment shops are the best. I wore this vintage velvet vest to work last week and got so many compliments on it. Got it for $20 in a consignment shop.

Enkay said...

Looks like I'll be coming to you for 'free' advice! Who cares how much it costs if I look fab, eh?
*Wink*!

Anonymous said...

i love thrifting too,from,clothes to books,dvds,cds all join. there's a plato's closet really close to me , will check it out. infact there's so many around me that i just discovered one recently and i get good jewelries there.these places that have departmental store clothes for really cheap what are they called. the one we have here in dallas 1/2off1/2 i dunno if its in other cities, but boy you get good stuff there. one thing though if you dont have the patience and time to look you cant thrift. meanwhyl this one you are spreadin the word (clears throat),make too many peeps no know our secret oh.
jubekwe

Anonymous said...

@ MPB, the 1st saturday of every month (I think) the Goodwills in Greater Cincinnati get unsold merchandise from Target stores, you're practically getting brand new items at Goodwill prices. I recommend going into one of the Goodwill's to ask though.

Deep Soul said...

Haha@Oil Mill. You don tay for dis thing oh!

FYI: Mile 1 market has been demolished. I bet you visited "Railway" too :-D

Nefertiti said...

I no get money to pay you joor. Isn't that one of the reasons we a thrifting in the first place?

I suppose get free consultation and styling nah. LOL

On the real though, thanks for introducing me to thrifting (You may not remember that convo, but I do). Got a beautiful leather biker jacket to show for it.