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What I’ve Learned From Shopping Thrift Stores

Shopping Second Hand Stores

Since late 2014 I have purchased most of my possessions from second hand stores. I remember the first store I walked into in San Diego to shop for my new apartment. I needed curtains, towels and a bathmat. I was able to find nearly everything I needed in that one trip. I expected to find some pretty gross shit there but not really. Nice things that thankfully weren’t added to our garbage piles. 

In the past I would just stop by Target for bathroom paraphernalia and later on as a big-baller doctor I would go to Ethan Allen and Pottery Barn and West Elm. I would shop for kitchen ware at Crate and Barrel and get whatever else I couldn’t find on Amazon. I’m getting a little nauseated thinking of how much I’ve spent over the years, but damn… I’ve owned some really nice stuff.

Ironically, my little coffee table that I got for $35 at a local thrift store was from Ethan Allen.


The one nice thing about shopping the expensive stores is that I learned the difference between crap and quality-made goods. Consumer goods are intentionally no longer made to last because obtaining these goods is no longer the reason we shop for them (the end), it’s the act of shopping (the means) that has become an addiction. In a way, we don’t want that sofa to last 27 years… shit, that would make us feel terrible to throw out or give away a perfectly good sofa in order to buy a new one.

Shopping For Clothes

I didn’t start shopping for clothes at the thrift stores until I came to Portland, Or. I had no clothing that was appropriate for the weather here and I didn’t want to set foot in another mall. I was able to find a couple of jackets, sweats and shirts that were perfect.

Later I even bought a pair of shoes, and that’s when I realized that thrift-store-shopping takes a little more experience. The first pair of shoes I bought were clogs and they looked damn near new. However, the very first day I wore them to work my nurses started pointing out that I was leaving black marks everywhere on the floor and later on that evening the sole literally started coming off piece by piece because it was so brittle. It was probably 15 years old but just looked new.

Lesson learned. I also bought a chair that served me quite well for 6 months but only after I added some metal support brackets because the poor thing was coming apart at the joints. I nearly fell off of it one time when I went to turn to reach for something. I could have recognized this had I just turned the chair upside down and gave the legs a few good yanks.

I also bought an aluminum brownie pan which would start leaving a metallic residue on my hands and dish sponge. I still have it because now I just keep some crap in it but if I get Alzheimer’s I’ll know where it came from.

I also bought a throw which looked great and was gonna be perfect on my mattress when I wasn’t using it. Unfortunately, this thing started leaving this red fuzz everywhere that you can’t get out of fabric even with a commercial strength vacuum cleaner! I could have realized this sooner had I just tested to see how easily this thing comes apart in my hands. Can you image what would happen if I washed my sheets with this thing in the washer? To this date I am picking out this red fuzz out of my clothes. I feel like it has embedded itself into my DNA. 

In Summary

So that’s what I’ve learned so far. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot more. I enjoy getting my things from the second-hand store and as long as you shop at the better quality shops you will get some fantastic items that still have plenty of use. In turn, I have started donating my unwanted items to such places.

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