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May 1, 2013

The Three Stages of Thrift Store Addiction or "How I made $100 in fifteen minutes"



Readers, I have just learned that cinema songbird of yore Deanna Durbin has died at the ripe old age of 91.

There aren't too many film stars left from the Golden Age of Hollywood -- Olivia DeHavilland and sister Joan Fontaine, Mickey Rooney, Shirley Temple, Marsha Hunt come immediately to mind.  Deanna was one of my all-time favorites; I think I've seen every one of her films.  Deanna isn't well remembered today and it's only partially because she retired while still in her twenties and spent the balance of her life enjoying the normal things -- husband, children, privacy -- she longed for.

The truth is that Deanna never made a truly great film -- most of her movies were relatively low-budget black and white musicals made by Universal Studios, a second-rate studio (at that time) where chipmunk-cheeked Deanna was the undisputed queen.  Her big-budget technicolor answer to "Meet Me In St. Louis" was "Can't Help Singing," which has its moments but is hardly a classic (and those Walter Plunkett costumes all look like they were made from draperies).

Thankfully, there's plenty of Deanna all over YouTube.  She was a marvelous singer and first-rate performer and unlike Judy Garland, who rarely was expected to carry an entire film on her fragile shoulders but was usually co-starred with Gene Kelly or Mickey Rooney or some other equally talented performer, Deanna Durbin movies were all about Deanna -- always front and center in adoring close-up.  She was a really big deal in the late Thirties and most of the Forties -- remarkable.

In other news, what a great time I had at the Salvation Army this morning!



Readers, there are three types of thrift store shoppers or, as I prefer to refer to it, three stages of thrift store addiction - stages being more accurate than levels, I believe, since most thrift store shoppers at one stage will, more likely than not, move on to one of the others sooner than they may think.

Stage One:

A Stage One shopper leaves the thrift store with his or her purchases, aware of the amount of money they've spent (let's overlook subject/verb agreement today), but truly excited about what they've bought.  The loot is first and foremost, the cost secondary.

Stage Two:

Stage Two shoppers exit the thrift store thinking primarily about how much money they have saved.  They may love what they've purchased, but it's the savings that gives them the familiar thrift store high.  This is undoubtedly the most common stage, and many thrift store shoppers will stay at this stage without their addiction ever progressing to...

Stage Three:

Stage Three shoppers are dramatically fewer in number, friends, but you have probably known a few.  These are the people who leave the thrift store delighted with their purchases just like those at earlier stages.  But what distinguishes Stage Three from Stage Two is that the Stage Three shopper is most excited about how much money they earned.  I know it sounds deluded, but so be it.

Needless to say, I am at Stage Three.   Here's what I just picked up at the Salvation Army, earning $100 in the process (despite one item being a complete dud):

1) This white "burnout" crew neck tee shirt cost $1.99.  New, it retails for a whopping $36.  (Do we live in a crazy world or don't we?)  Money earned: $34.



2) Black Vornado table fan which we were actually in the market for as our old one finally died -- we use these primarily for white noise at night.  Price paid, $5.99.  Retail price: $44.99.  Money earned: nearly $40.



3) Frank Sinatra CD "Come Dance With Me" -- a classic from the Capitol era.   Price paid: $1.99.  MP3 for sale on Amazon for $7.99.  Money earned $6.



4) Black Ottlite table lamp in excellent working condition.  I've been admiring these lately online, especially now that I can no longer thread a needle without my "readers."  I paid $5.99.  Retail price: $38.45.  Money earned: approximately $32.50





5) Old soft-as-flannel 100% bedsheet for muslins.  I paid $1.99.   This really has no retail value but I love using old sheets for sewing.  I may line (or underline) a dress with it too.



6) THE DUD:  These fabulous Forties-inspired Donna Karan satin sandals were $6.99 and fit great, but I realized only after I'd brought them home that the left shoe is cracked in a way that the heel won't support the foot.  Alas, I should have tried on both shoes at the store.  Readers, never give something damaged to the Salvation Army or any other thrift store.  It creates really bad karma -- or it should.



All told, I made roughly $100 this morning in less than twenty minutes.  Now if only I could find a Bernina: that would be like time-and-a-half!

In closing, do you identify with any of the three stages of thrift store addiction?   Are you a run-of-the mill second-stager, or have you, like me, reached the stage where you see your thrift store savings as income -- this despite the fact that you have no intention of ever selling anything you've purchased?  Do you think there's a cure (beside insect infestation -- heaven forbid)?

Any Deanna Durbin fans out there?

Have a great day, everybody -- sing along!




38 comments:

  1. Definitely a Stage 3 in both thrifting and my love for Deanna Durbin. She was grandfather's favorite movie star. You would have to see a picture of my grandma to know that he obviously had a "type." As much as I wish that she would have continued to make movies, I admire her decision to lead a normal life and raise her family. "Lady On a Train" is my favorite DD movie and easily in my top 10 favorite movies. I have to say that it is her spunk (more than her singing voice) that made me a fan. She is one of the greats!!!

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  2. None of those stages, since I really go thrift shore shopping only when DRAGGED. I do love old furniture, though. I can give an old piece new life like nobody's business!

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  3. Hovering between stage 2 & 3. I have a great black linen jersey t-shirt by John Varvatos that I got at the Salvation Army last spring for $1.99. It currently retails for $168! I know why it ended up at the SA though... it's "dry clean only". I wash it alone in a bucket of color water and watch it bleed every time.

    About the SA...always watch out for those staple holes! They can turn anything into $1.99 down the drain.

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    1. Grace - you need to get Retayne. It's a product that locks dye into fabric to stop or drastically reduce color bleeding. Quilters and others who work with hand-dyed fabrics use it when they wash their fabrics prior to use; it can also be used on garments which bleed. Many quilting shops sell it but you can also buy it on Amazon. I've used it on many garments which gave off color and I can now wash them with other clothing in the washer.

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  4. part of my childhood just died. loved deanna durbin.RIP

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  5. Stage 2 here. I'd LOVE to find an ott lamp some day! I used to regularly scour some thrift stores that sell sewing patterns, until my vintage pattern collection got completely out of hand.

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  6. Stage 2-3 for me...and I love Deanna Durbin. I hope she found happiness here in France.

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  7. One of things that I'm most looking forward to in our coming return to the States is re-immersion in the Wide World of Thrifts. Once upon a time you could find '20s cocktail dresses and Edwardian sherry glasses; I can't wait to see what's turning up these days.

    And adieu to Deanna; I do rather like how the title caption on that second video reads rather like a threat: Deanna Durbin sings MORE AND MORE - the OR ELSE is just implied...

    And, I have to ask - have you seen this? Deeply, deeply fabulous, even on this sad day...

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  8. Gutter, Peter! I was hoping to find out you had a secret eBay store or something like that. Having said that, it is the unfortunate habit of people here who buy stuff at the thrift stores and sell it online at a big markup, that is driving the price of thrift store stuff higher and higher. I rarely find anything useful in them over here.

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  9. I guess I'm level 3. I'm at the point where I look for specific labels and then when assembling a thrifted outfit calculate how much the pieces cost new - living next to a very high end suburb trying to keep up more or less I have a small service business & need the high end t shirts for that.

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  10. I love Deanna Durbin and didn't know anyone else in the world loved her to. I own her DVD's and love them.

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  11. I'm not sure what stage I'm in, but when I looked at the "tax" line on your receipt, I thought you had snagged a taxi for $1.42. Now that's some damn good earnings, if you ask me. Perhaps I should start shopping the local Goodwill for some reading glasses. ;)

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  12. Yep, three. Thoroughly three. I actually go through my purchases, usually they end up being refashioned, so I make lists of the retail price of the outcome. My husband thinks I'm nuts but I made 300$ on my last trip. Happily thrift store addicted :-)

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  13. My mother loved Deanna Durbin. She sang soprano and belonged to a choir many many years ago.
    So I mainly heard my mother singing and listening to Deanna Durbin, Mario Lanza, Howard Keel etc.
    None of whom I am much of fan of. I loved the DD movies because of the fashions and furnishings.

    I look around thrift stores and buy something I need. Sometimes I get a really good deal, and other times I can buy it cheaper new on sale. I LOVE Salvation Army stores, but we really don't have many where I live.

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  14. Peter: You're hilarious! I am a stage 1/ stage 2 hybrid.

    And I think the English peeps have more awareness of the influence of Ms. Durbin than their North American counterparts. I hadn't heard she'd died. What a role model to have made her fortune and then lived her life!

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  15. I live in Charity Shop Heaven, at the HUB of multiple charity shops around us, often in wealthier areas. The best is where the items go straight into the shop, staff are volunteers, and a few on "projects". Great items go right in, no creaming off. I have a depression challenge, and find the hunt is great as an upper. I used to scour the S.A. in 15 cent bin, and come up with fine linen hankies, with embroidery. Back in the day. I use my purchases as meds, and shop in sewing sections. Then I do not open once home, but let the bag age for a few days, and then savour the experience, when I have some quiet time. I sew with my purchases, and am now very captivated by my new to me presser feet. We also buy books, like 5 cents for The Art of Manipulating Fabric. Cathie, in Quebec.

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    1. That does it: I'M MOVING TO QUEBEC. Is that Montreal or Quebec City.

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    2. lol, it does sound like heaven on earth!

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  16. I've been in stage 3 for years. Primarily because I can walk into any store and immediately pick out what was originally the most expensive thing they have without even trying. (This also holds for high end retail stores) I suppose it comes from having champagne tastes on a water budget....

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  17. Stage 2 here, love those bags of zippers you can pick up cheap! Deanna Durbin was a Winnipeg gal. RIP.

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  18. allow me to take you further down the rabbit hole: those vornado fans (the best for white noise) are guaranteed for LIFE. ruggy has sent ours back several times, free of charge, now for a fixer upper.

    i gotta go get my calculator.

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  19. I am a total thrift shop addict. I actually get "frantic" if I don't get a 'fix" for a few weeks. As for berninas, this Bible thrift shop in our town often has sewing machines of all types and ages(some I have never heard of, even) but I have only ever seen a Bernina once, and it was a rather battered, rusty-looking "Record" (that old yellow model you showed in your previous post). It looked so crappy I didn't even bother with it, and the wiring was shot, anyway. I got a nice 70s Viking Husqvarna 6160 there for $10(with no foot pedal though; it costs $50) in almost-new shape and one of the cams missing ( there were 4) I could tell it was "almost new"; there were no scratches or abrasion marks whatever on the throat plate and no evidence of any wear or use anywhere else on it. I am going to take it in and have it 'assessed" I think it just needs a good oiling!

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  20. Is there a stage 4 for people who re-sell the things they buy in thrift stores? I always crow about the smocking pleater I bought for $9 and re-sold on Ebay for $115. Then there was the children's book I bought for $.25 and sold for $50 on Amazon. Those were my best, but there are many others for varying amounts of profit.

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  21. I believe Im a stage 3. I love thrifting, Im a snob though I like the quality. My best buy a brand new pure wool sol mio blanket minus its box. It felt devine. I paid £3.00 got it home and researched it, and the its value £233, new. WHAT FUN.
    p.S. In reply to your past post, I too did my research and decided I wanted an old mechanical bernina (Swiss made) I finally found one, not a thrifty buy, but if I add up all the attachments etc still a good buy. I love my Bernina 1020 wouldnt part with it or sew with anything else.

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  22. I volunteer in a Salvation Army Thriftshop and belive me, if you think temptation is bad when just shopping, working there is worse! And all the things you want to rescue from the bin...I have a Bernina sewing machine from a friend but no foot peddle as yet, she is still looking for it. I was watching a television program last night and happened to notice that a character was sitting in front of a Bernina sewing machine, quite a coincidence!

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  23. The thing I always admired about Deanna Durbin - besides her wonderful voice - was her well-lived life. She never got into the "fading star" stuff so many of them do - the trashy movies done just for the money, the addictions, the tacky conduct. Best of all was her decision to retire when she could no longer accept what Universal was doing with her - she simply went and lived another life away from the spotlight instead of railing against things that were never going to change anyway. If you look at other stars' public utterances over the years, you often see what amounts to: "I hate this town and I hate what it does to people, but PLEASE keep the paychecks and the adulation coming, folks."

    Deanna had - overworked word, I know - class. She'll be missed.

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  24. Oh, Stage 3 thrift store addict here, with the added thrift store Tourette's...if I receive a compliment on a dress, I MUST say "Thanks, I got it for a dollar!" (or whatever the great deal was.) Of course, we must never talk about stage 4...when stuff that "just needs a coat of paint" or "just needs a new zipper" starts moving en masse from the thrift store to your closets...

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  25. Not much of a shopper, so no thrift store addiction here. :)

    Great price for the Vornado fan, Peter. I'm in need of a new one and have been pricing them. Mine is at least 15 years old!


    Taja

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  26. Great entry! Long time reader....first time responder. xo - Patricia

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  27. Just now, I visited for the first time ""male pattern boldness".
    What a blog!

    Being an addict myself, I truly recognize the 3 thrift store rules. In the same way as Julie (above) states: I often get in stage 4. For me it is things I bought and no longer need, giving away to my mother, or my siter.

    If you'd like to see some pimping I did, check it out on my (Belgian)blog under the label "kringloop" (dutch word for thrift store)

    http://homeiswherethedachshundis.blogspot.be



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  28. I mean 'sister' obviously. Wouldn't know what a "siter" is , hope I haven't used a dirty word. (my English is not that good)

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  29. STAGE FOUR: Buying things at the thrift store to sell on the web or at tag sales. Now that's earned money. (BTW, I'm at Stage One).

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  30. Wow, so sad to hear about Deanna...but so glad she was able to live the life she wanted. :)

    Stage 3...will probably cross the line into stage 4 once I can finally afford a place of my own (hoping to furnish it in thrift-store items as much as possible). 8lol*

    LOVE this blog, BTW - you have such talent, and an amazing collection of vintage patterns! Wow!

    Regards,
    Mugsy

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  31. Okay, I must be in stage four of thrift store shopping because sometimes I actually buy something knowing I can make money actually selling it and making actual money. I am notorious for doing this with sewing machines as well. Let's just say that at one point I bought a sewing machine that came with a lot of extras. Now I already had that exact sewing machine, a Bernina 1630, and quite a few extras already. So that machine arrived and I assessed my loot. I kept what I wanted and sold off the rest and ended up making quite a bit of money on the whole deal. Plus I had probably every possible extra for this machine (presser feet, stitch keys, etc.).

    As for the thrift store shopping in general I am probably at the excited at what I got and excited about what I saved. I can't really justify saying I made money because it is not money I would have spent if I hadn't found it dirt cheap at a thrift store. So anyway, maybe I skipped Stage 3 and jumped right to Stage 4. LOL.

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  32. I am only Stage 2 as I dislike "real" shopping and don't usually have an idea of what the retail cost would be. I am curious that you haven't told us what the retail price on "Women - white" was. Depending on the women, you should be able to resell them for a decent profit;-)

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    Replies
    1. That was the tee shirt -- it was mislabeled women's.

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