We recently attended our annual music festival and I was reminded of the spirit that Mr. Poppycakes and I share in both thrift-store visits and music festivals. It a sense of being open to discovery. Our festival, the Nelsonville Music Festival, runs concurrent shows on three stages from morning to deep into after midnight for three straight days. You do what you can to read up on the bands, but there will be nothing to really prepare you for what you might miss or what you might stumble upon by just being well, open.
This year, the discovery of Shovels and Rope was as thrilling as finding Woody Pines last year and leaving smitten with them. But there was too, the indescribably life-affirming, technicolor joy of watching the Flying Clouds of South Carolina play. Nothing could have prepared me for the energy and talent that that band brought to my life and a memory, conga line and all, that is in the slideshow shuffle of images destined for the end-of-life filmstrip. I will smile, a little happier that I lived, because of seeing that show.
I am often asked for advice about shopping at thrift stores by people who want to thrift or have found "thrifting" to be frustrating, claiming that "I've tried it once or twice and never found anything good." When I decide to hit the thrift stores I approach it in a couple of ways.
1. I go because I need a basic: jeans, a black sweater, a simple t-shirt, a tank top. Or even to see if a fun dress or skirt might inspire me to assemble something around it for some event. Or maybe I am beginning the hunt for a wooden ladder (I am) or a bookcase, some piece of furniture or a tool, something specific that I hope to find on the cheap.
2. I go to feed my eyes some eclectic eye-candy. I don't know what I'll find, if I'll need it or even want to take it home, but I will be happy to have seen the thing. Recently, I went in with this spirit and dragged myself out the door after finding the following:
Or this incredibly detailed, gorgeously-embroidered vintage nightgown that I nearly bought to sell on my etsy site: The Zelda Room, but thought to leave some pretty for someone else. Like a good near-hoarder, I filled my camera with images and left the goods for the next shopper.
My favorite thrift store poem is Someone Else Happy by Eliot Khalil Wilson-- the poem itself is not available online but the link will take you to his book which is FILLED with only great poems.
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
After my mother died, one of the most difficult tasks for my sister and me was to take the clothes she’d made for herself to a thrift shop. In this poem, Frannie Lindsay, a Massachusetts poet, remembers a similar experience.
The Thrift Shop Dresses