My Minimalism Journey, Thrift Shop Adventures

Shameless “Thrifting”

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I titled this post “Shameless ‘Thrifting'” as I used to be ashamed to go into thrift stores. I would avoid them at all costs and despite hearing stories from friends about the cool items they discovered for a very low cost at thrift shops.

My shame did not come from fear that people would think I was poor and needed to shop in a thrift shop, it came from once being quite poor and a thrift shop being the only option for clothes, household items, etc.

I put myself through pre-med and then nursing school (when I decided to become a nurse instead of a physician as I had originally planned) when I was in my late teens to my early 20s and I had no disposable income. At one point I was working 40 hours a week (at night as a Home Health Aide) and going to school full-time. It is a long story (related to why my family did not have resources to help me with school) but I obviously made it through (and met Terry, the future “Quilting Husband” while I was in nursing school).

Although we have likely donated thousands of dollars’ worth of no longer used items to charity thrift stores, I refused to shop at thrift stores. To me they represented the poverty I once experienced (and never wanted to experience again), so I stayed away from them. I was all about being able to buy the new things I wanted to buy, when I wanted to buy them (before embracing the Minimalism movement).

A couple of years ago, my a friend introduced me to the fun of discovering cool cheap high quality fabric and antique fabric finds at thrift shops! My sister, who has an excellent sense of style and is a wonderful dresser, also encouraged me to explore thrift shops (She has discovered many incredible inexpensive clothing finds, including “designer” brands).  Inspired by my friend and my sister, finally I realized that shopping at thrift stores not only makes good financial sense, but it is very “green”. Instead of items going into a landfill they can be reused by someone else (and the purchase benefits charity organizations – it is a “win-win”).

Concurrently with my sister’s and friend’s influence, over the years my consumerism fueled drive to purchase “new shiny things” has ended. I started to choose experiences over things and realizes new shiny things only bring temporary and fleeting joy. Real joy comes from say a quiet walk in nature or cup of tea with a friend. This is one of the reasons why we have donated likely 30 – 50% of our stuff now to charity organizations.


So this past Saturday I decided I wanted to go wander around our local thrift store and hunt for fun deals. I had a desire for “Retail Therapy” but in an inexpensive and “green” way. Here is what I found during my Saturday adventure visiting Goodwill, Humane Society Thrift Shop, and the Hospice Thrift Shop (benefiting Central Oregon Hospice).


I know there is some controversy about the Goodwill Industries organization but their mission seems on the surface to be pretty darn wonderful. I spent the first part of the my “Shameless Thrifting” Adventure, wandering around Goodwill.


Shoes! I could not believe how many nice pairs of shoes were at Goodwill at very cheap prices. I am not that into fashion, being a telecommuter and outdoorsy kind of person (I prefer a comfortable outfit and pair of shoes) but if I were I would know where to get lovely designer shoes very cheaply!

After I was done entertaining myself with looking at shoes, I went to visit the fabric section (especially after the find from my last visit – see the post Mysterious Thrift Store Fabric Find).


I did not find anything interesting in the linens and fabric section. However I did return again to the shoe section just browse it for fun; and to think about how much money women spend on new shoes that they only wear for a short period of time. I bet most of the shoes sitting on the shelves of the Women Shoe Section of Goodwill at one time gave some woman a fleeting sense of happiness and temporary “new purchase high”. And now they were sitting on the shelf for $6.99 a pair (note – this Goodwill store appeared to only sell used shoes which were in very good condition).

Humane Society Thrift Store

I left Goodwill empty handed and ventured onto the Humane Society Thrift Store where I entertained myself browsing their used vinyl record collection. While browsing, I stumbled upon this record which brought back some major memories from my childhood:


Yes when I was a pre-teen I was a HUGE Barry Manilow fan. I cannot believe I am admitting this (and putting it in writing), but while some pre-teens were crazy for Michael Jackson or Donny Osmond, I was all about Barry Manilow! I remember the joy of getting a new Barry Manilow record as a kid. (Are you so shocked you have to unfollow my blog now?!?! Can I ever regain your respect?!?!)

A young couple who was browsing in the same section, looked at me with curiosity as I was photographing this record. I can only imagine what they were thinking, ha!

Now, I did not buy the Barry Manilow record. However I did leave the Humane Society Thrift Store with 3 used SAQA Journal Magazines (from 2011 and 2012 before I was a SAQA member) and 5 buttons (for future miniature kimonos). A purchase that totaled $1.


Hospice Thrift Shop

I ended my thrifting adventure at the Hospice Thrift Shop. I did not purchase anything this thrift shop, but I was very entertained looking at their used craft supply section. My favorite item: not only did someone donate their yarn but they must have said “screw it, I am done with this knitting thing” and they donated the piece in progress still on the knitting needles!


Summarizing My Saturday Shameless Thrifting Adventure:

  • Time spent browsing = 2.5 hours
  • Money spent = $1
  • Fun (the thrill of the hunt), giggles, and insight = priceless!


I do not regret the time in my life when I had little financial resources. It was during this time that I learned to cook as I could make my own food from scratch (much cheaper than purchasing pre-made food). For example, I learned to bake my own bread from discounted flour I bought at wholesale from a food coop I volunteered at (to get wholesale prices on food).

Also I learned at an early age how to budget and manage resources; and also how to stay away from the pitfalls of credit card debt.  My life could have been easier by taking out a large school loan but I worked my way through school instead (there was no partying or goofing off during my time in college) so I had a minimal student loan to pay when I graduated (yes and sigh, no wild college parties memories but that is okay).

But most important though, is I learned to appreciate everything I have, as everything I have was earned through my effort and hard work.

I do believe through struggle comes growth.

20 thoughts on “Shameless “Thrifting””

  1. Yup…I agree with you. Was telling my husband not to long ago that the problem with “things” is that you have to maintain them, dust them, store them, de clutter them. I can’t tell you how many times I have put things away and forgot I even had them, meanwhile they take up space I don’t have. Minimalize and thrift away!

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  2. We have a Goodwill Outlet store here and they sell everything by the pound, except large items like furniture. It is 89 cents a pound, I have found a bolt of white fabric, and so many other items. My biggest find was an antique iron. It is fun. The Disabled Veterans Store have specific color ticketed items for 50 cents on Sundays. The lines at the door waiting for them to open can be quite long.

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  3. Terrific! Any good thrift store is priceless! I used to live near some and really enjoyed them. Now I’m looking forward to my next big city trip so I can shop some more–thanks for the reminder 🙂

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  4. I can relate to a lot of what you say. I mostly stopped shopping at thrift stores when I needed “corporate” or “banker” clothes. I do NOT like shopping enough to sort through clothing to find that type of piece. Shopping new clothes is bad enough, but at least the odds were a little higher. All that said, I do still occasionally shop 2nd hand. I have a denim jacket purchased this spring, and a set of green decorator plates, purchases at different shops this year. And I appreciated when Son was in high school and shopped Goodwill for shirts. I would have paid more for his clothes if he cared, but he didn’t. 🙂 Now he LOVES the used book store, much to my delight.

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    1. Your son sounds very cool – used bookstores are a magical place! When I worked in an office (instead of telecommuting like I do now) and had to dress fairly professional I only shopped at regular retail stores. My sister though works in an office and she finds incredible professional outfits for basically pennies but she does not mind spending the time looking.


  5. I think it’s great you liked Barry Manilow! I remember listening to his music. I’m glad you had such a great time spending your dollar. It is amazing what you can find in those stores. Shoes would not be of interest to me. I have my favorites and I stuck with them until we reluctantly have to part company. My husband, on the other hand, has way more pairs of shoes than I do. Congratulations on your self financed education and your commitment to thriftiness. It does make a person feel proud to be able to say “I did that.”

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  6. This was such a good post, thank you for sharing how thrifting can be so intimidating at first and can be a private thing by yourself or fun with others! I’m glad you are able to enjoy thrifting now ❤️

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  7. Twice a year…our city lets people put their unwanted items on the side of the road…well. it starts next week ….so Im on the lookout when i walk the doggies!!!!

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