Disclaimer: I did video production 20 years ago in college, and I am just reintroducing myself to it again with iMovie, so while I’m no Steven Spielberg, I hope you enjoy the videos.
A song called “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore; Ryan Lewis (featuring Wanz) has been on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart the past 26 weeks, and for the past six, it’s been the No. 1 song in America.
It’s a tune about archaeologically excavating Americana in second-hand stores — an activity that has become a hipster hobby, but it’s also for anyone who loves salvaging vintage finds and thinking practically in a throw-away world.
Fondren resident Dawn Macke, marketing account manager for SourceLink in Madison, popped some tags last weekend at her favorite thrift store, The Orange Peel. As the song says, “One man’s trash is another man’s come-up.”
Macke looks for unusual designs or cuts that blend with her eclectic style. This includes long dresses, unusual jewelry, hats and boots of all types.
“Items that wind up in consignment as unsuitable for the original owner often work wonderfully for me,” she said. “and it doesn’t cost a small fortune if trial equals error. I’m also a kitchen gadget queen, so I check thrift stores too for odd tools, unique serving ware and specialized culinary pieces.”
There’s a focus today on inventing your own style, Macke said, and people are doing that with vintage finds.
“The personalization and customization is more important than the label itself,” she said, “and the diverse selections in thrift and consignment stores make this easier.”
It’s also about conservation.
“I think a number of people not only rejoice in their odd finds and the money they save, but also in saving one more item from waste or landfill,” she said. “Although I believe the hipster factor may have made thrift and consignment stores popular and kept them viable, there is also more of a cultural turn towards green and sustainable living. It’s not just about living economically, but living consciously through reuse, repurpose, recycling and upcycling.”
Her favorite thrift stores in the Jackson metro area include Fondren’s The Orange Peel, Silly Billy’s and The Green Room, Jackson’s NUTS and Ridgeland’s Repeat Street.
Some her latest finds include:
• An embroidered suede coat with feathery, fluffy, furry trim along the collar, cuffs and hemline from NUTS in Jackson, $80.
• Red and black kitchen barstools from The Orange Peel, $36 a pair.
• An entire theme party outfit with a black mini-skirt and red silk jacket from Silly Billy’s in Fondren, $15.
• Green swing sweater, matching silk scarf, two pair matching brown boots from The Orange Peel, $20.
Fondren resident Paul Hamblin, a graphic artist for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, became a thrift and consignment shopper about two years ago.
“I’ve found that consignment shops are a great place to piece together Halloween costumes,” he said. “I’m always on the lookout for old cameras, furniture and the occasional pair of shoes.”
Hamblin said being thrifty today is related to the economy and popularity of shows like “American Pickers.”
One of his best finds was an antique metal teacher’s desk for $40.
“I found the same desk online for $500,” he said. “I’d say I got a deal.”
Olive Branch resident Heather Fox, 38, is a real estate agent who began thrift shopping and searching garage sales, eBay and Craigslist for finds about five years ago.
“I started selling my daughter’s clothes so that I could take that money and buy new ones,” she said.
“In a short time, I realized how much more I could get and save by buying second hand.
“I have a 3- and 7-year-old who destroy their clothes. After years of paying up to $1,000 a season for name-brand clothing, and for them only to be messed up in a matter of hours, I realized how nice it was to find the same name brands and for a tenth of the price.”
Fox also finds and rehabs furniture.
“I end up reselling it if I get tired of it, or if it doesn’t work the way I thought it would,” she said.
Secondhand toys are also good investments, she said.
“If I can buy my children a $50 toy for $2-$5, then that is fabulous,” she said. “When they get tired of the toy in a month, I just resell it.
“Power Wheels vehicles are the best. They cost up to $400 brand new. We have had about eight different Power Wheels vehicles over the last two years. That would have cost us up to $2,500 retail, and I have spent less than $325 total on all 8 of these vehicles.”
Another fabulous find was a 1965 original Beatles lunchbox with the original thermos. She got it for $100 and sold it the next day on eBay for $425.
Selena Swartzfager, 42, president of the Mississippi Council on Economic Education, has heard the “Thrift Shop” song.
“I love to sing along,” she said. “My 10-year-old loves it, too. I take him thrift shopping with me, where his favorite finds are toys.”
She frequents The Orange Peel, Goodwill stores, Repeat Street and garage sales.
“My grandparents ran the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store in Fredericksburg, Texas, in their retirement,” she said. “As a teenager, my sister and I had a blast shopping there, and my grandfather would foot the bill. They also took me to garage sales and estate auctions, where I learned how to be thrifty.”
She’s also found a way to turn it into profit.
“I have found I can shop at garage sales, wear the items for a while, then resell them at the consignment store and actually make a little money,” she said. “I have about $200 in credit at The Orange Peel from reselling clothing.”
She looks for name brands like Ann Taylor and Gap, furniture that can be upcycled, jewelry and purses.
Some of her best finds have been Waterford salt and pepper shakers for $6 and an antique shabby chic dresser for $15.
“In tough economic times, it is a way to make your money go farther,” she said.
Brandon resident Kierstan A. Knaus, 25, a logistics supervisor for Enterprise Rent-a-Car, is a second generation thrift shopper familiar with the “Thrift Shop” song.
“I grew up only wearing consignment or thrift store clothes as a result of a very frugal mother,” she said.
“Although, I’m only 25, I’ve had a solid 25 years of experience of searching, browsing and rocking consignment clothes.”
Her favorite thrift shops are Repeat Street, The Orange Peel, The Green Room, The Salvation Army in Jackson and Brandon’s Forget Me Nots.
“The fulfillment of digging and finding ‘steals’ on name brand clothes or pieces really make me excited that I’m getting the most for my money. Being a true thrifty shopper, you have to be able to find, purchase and put together things that people compliment you on, but have no idea you actually paid minimal price for. It is a lifestyle not just a fad.”