Starving Artist Hacks: The Importance of Thrifting Or, my obsession with thrifting: A photo essay

Sage Harrington - Pyragraph

Thrifted wig and sequined dress. Photo by Jared Putnam.

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.

And now for one of my favorite passages from Inga Muscio’s Cunt:

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?

Sage Harrington - Pyragraph

Thrifted blue spandex suit and red face-merkin. Came complete with face-holes. Perfect for music video making.

Sage Harrington - Pyragraph

In anticipation of our band’s first CD release party, Jared and I raided all the thrift stores for good T-shirts. Then a friend of ours helped us screenprint them.

Sage Harrington - Pyragraph

The first ice cream maker I ever bought. It’s a hand-cranker.

Sage Harrington - Pyragraph

I got a working electric ice cream maker, which came with this totally rad instruction/white heteronormative manual/recipe booklet.

Sage Harrington - Pyragraph

Sage Harrington - Pyragraph

Sage Harrington - Pyragraph

Sage Harrington - Pyragraph

Sage Harrington - Pyragraph

Because you see these and you say yes.

Sage Harrington - Pyragraph

Who says no to the chipotle mayonnaise stain sweater?

Sage Harrington - Pyragraph

Thrifted red case used for merch carting/dog anchoring purposes. Thrifted, I mean rescued, dogs.

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.

Again, from Inga’s Cunt, “Why the flying fuck should a woman have to pay some huge corporation over and over because the lining of her uterus naturally, biologically sheds every month?”

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.

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About Sage Harrington

Sage Harrington is a musician and Managing Editor for Pyragraph. She writes songs on her ukulele and plays them with her duo, Sage and Jared’s Happy Gland Band. They make videos and post them on the internet, while tending to their flock of urban chickens, two tiny dogs, and other small creatures.


  1. Tabatha on February 22, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    Sage, I love this article! Yesterday, my partner, tiny baby and I set out for a day of thrifting with the goal of upgrading one item in our house. How true it is: “All the things you would ever need come from thrift stores.” Some other items you save a bajillion dollars on getting at thrift stores:

    Cast Iron Skillets
    Glasses and Pitchers
    Amazing Coffee Mugs (if you really like mugs, you can really save a bajillion dollars)
    Artisanal coffee supplies (french press! Italian stovetop steamer!)
    Really fucking nice cooking pans
    Leather chairs
    Bed frames
    Camping supplies!
    Really nice wool yarn that normally costs $28/skein but someone doesn’t know and lumps six skeins together and sells for $3.

  2. Sage Harrington on February 26, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Ahhh, thank you Tabatha! It’s so true. I’m currently on the lookout for an Italian stovetop steamer, funnily enough. A friend made me a cup of coffee with one and now I am officially on the hunt. OH and I don’t know why I didn’t include a photo of these in the post, but I got a bunch of thrifty mugs and painted on them with sharpie oil-based paint pens. I am now in possession of a CUNT mug, a bunch of Happy Gland Brand mugs, and some Harry Potter themes ones the kids made. (Okay, I made a Harry Potter themed mug too.)

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