I am an avid thrifter. Thrifting comes first, buying things new comes last, dead last. You can (and, I would rather arrogantly, pompously, pontifically preach, should) primarily buy used things. Because, the earth! Because, subverting gross American consumerism! Because, your wallet is thin, man, and why would you say no to a $6 functioning ice cream maker from the 1960s that came with the original sexist racist heteronormative manual/recipe booklet?
All good things come from thrift stores. All the things that you would ever need come from thrift stores. You just have to, you know, be there at the right time. Which means going to thrift stores often, and snatching up amazing things when you can.
Why wouldn’t you want to have cool shit in your house?
This means making planters out of $2 thrifted vessels! This means buying all the ugly lamps and trying to make them pretty! This means getting the tiny pink roller skates and giving them to the six-year-old in your life and hoping that they fit, even though they seem a little big. It’s cool; tiny children grow.
A few months ago, I realized I didn’t know what happened to my coffee table. I had one once, but I lost it, or gave it away, so I needed another. There are many creative ways of procuring a coffee table, from running into a Starbucks and grabbing one (their employees are forbidden to give chase), to spending an entire weekend garage sale-ing, to building one out of found objects. I opted for a tactic I use when holiday shopping: I pick one store whose owners I like and want to support, and I buy everything there. A thrift store in my neighborhood that specializes in furniture is owned by a husband, wife and baby. The wife and baby run the front and the husband refinishes furniture in the back. I like them. I stalked this thrift store for two months before I found a coffee table. The one I found was gorgeous and much less expensive than one from a corporate furniture outlet. Furthermore, 100 percent of the profits went to a struggling family.
And I can hear many an American shopper say, “You waited two months for a coffee table?” To which I would answer: “What kind of delusional force is ruling your heart that inspires you to think that two months is a long time to wait for some fucking decorative material good that does not involve life or death?”
…There are thousands of consumer beliefs that we uphold which make no sense whatsoever, and serve no one but huge, uncaring corporations.
Ah, Inga, how I love you! So, yes, bonus points if you go to the nonprofit or independently run ma and pop thrift stores rather than the chainy ones who just make pretty claims of doing “good” for the “community” for marketing purposes.
Plus, why wouldn’t you want to have cool shit in your house? Why wouldn’t you want to grow some plants in a popcorn container? Or string up some exceptionally inexpensive vintage bubble lights round the holidays?
You can extend this practice to every single part of your consumeristic life, including your period, if you are the type who menstruates.
A while back I went to this lovely event put on by Jessi Campbell, writer for Pyragraph and co-owner of my local artsy craftsy store The Octopus and the Fox. Basically, a bunch of women got together, made cloth pads, and drank delicious locally made root beer. And guess where Jessi got all the materials we used! (It was thrift stores!) It was so beyond lovely. But if for some reason you don’t have a community-focused artsy craftsy organization that puts on super woman-positive events in your area, you can totally make these at home yourself, because there are so many tutorials online.
You can also buy them. I have some of these and love them.
Gah! I’m just gushing with love (bwaahahaaa) for all this, because, once again, the earth! Because, subverting gross American consumerism and not adding to the giant pool of money made from horrible things that pollute our world and our pussies! Because you can get all the materials you need to make these secondhand—including the sewing machine—from thrift stores!
You can bleed on the coolest, weirdest seventies-style prints.
Your house can be lit by bubble light.
You can put your feet into the coolest, most inexpensive shoes.
They’re just waiting for you to find them.
Photos by Sage Harrington.