Wednesday, 5 September 2012

I thrift

We celebrate small victories around here.

A few weeks ago after Deaglan had successfully slept five nights in the room across the hall, in the top bunk above his brother, we rewarded him with a trip to the toy store. He’d been in our bed for a full year by then; Shaune and I were fed up and ready to take drastic measures - in between bouts of guilt that we could be damaging him by forcing him out.

I’d used all sorts of explanations to justify his prolonged presence in our bed; some based on actual reading I’d done, and others, well just things I’d made up to make myself feel better about the situation. Shaune often grumbled that he couldn’t sleep with Deaglan sprawled out spider-like in our bed but the minute I suggested we consider moving him back to his own room, he jumped on my bandwagon, fabricating some reason why it might be best to let him stay with us. We didn’t have to admit out loud to each other that on some level we loved having him with us and the thought of his absence made both of us a little sad.

But we reached our limit a few weeks ago and after five successful nights in his own bed, we announced to our Senior Kindergartner that he would be allowed to go to Value Village and pick out two toys of his own choosing for this grand display of maturity.

In grade school, one sure way to lose esteem was to admit that you shopped at BiWay (a small scale version of Walmart back in the early eighties). You’d be publicly lambasted (or at least gossiped about) if someone noticed you were wearing Sparx, the running shoes sold at BiWay.

I was one of seven children in a working class family. Popularity was never in the cards for me back then.

By university, I’d discovered discount shopping and thrift stores. I’d lost any interest in popularity by then and embraced Grunge with all my heart. I frequented the handful of thrift stores in my area almost daily, rejoicing in the freedom to express myself on my very limited budget.

After Deaglan was born, when our home began filling up with plastic toys and baby gear, it made more sense than ever to buy used. Seeing how quickly each phase of babyhood whizzed by us, Shaune and I felt a growing sense of responsibility to not add to the vast landfills. We began thrifting for most of our toys and when we were through with them, we either gave them to friends or family, sold them on Kijiji or donated them.

In fact yesterday on the first day of school, alone without the kids to protest, we loaded up the van with old toys, clothes and baby equipment and dropped them off at Goodwill. We wouldn’t have had a chance had Deaglan been home. He’s a hoarder at heart and can think of a perfectly legitimate reason to keep even the lamest Happy Meal toy.

It does me good to know those toys will be recycled.

I also thrift a lot of our clothes. It makes sense to me. And to be honest, I find it awfully fun to go through the racks in search of a well kept item, a name brand I wouldn’t pay regular price for.

The thing is, it’s hard not to spoil your kids these days. Small family size, easy access to everything and the guilt that comes with being full time working parents can sometimes make it hard to say no when they ask for things. A trip to Goodwill or Value Village to pick out a used toy, some other kid has outgrown feels so much cleaner to me than going to Walmart or Toys R Us, not to mention cheaper. 

I like to think I’m doing my very small part for the environment by recycling and upcycling whenever I can. And just as importantly I want to teach my kids that things don’t have to be shiny and new to be treasured.

I love Deaglan’s purity. Just ask him where he got his new firetruck the next time you see him. “Value Village!”, he’ll tell you with both pride and excitement. We could all learn a lot from him.
I thrifted my top and shorts and Deaglan's Superman graphic T shirt.

I always find it interesting to see people's reactions when I tell them I've thrifted something they've complimented me on. If they are impressed with my mad skillz, I know we'd have been friends in grade school. If they get a mildly disgusted look on  their face I'm pretty sure we'll never really connect on anything else either.

There was no thrifting involved in this picture. In fact Kathy one of my best friends got these matching jammies for the boys when we visited her last week in the Niagara area. She also got them those stuffed Simons - genius that she knew to get two of the same thing. Gloriously there was no fighting. We woke up, drove away from our hotel so we could eat our breakfast overlooking Niagara Falls.


  1. I know I've told you before that I thrift shop as well. In fact, my family and I have renamed it. We call it 'boutiquing'. My boys had mostly new things when they were small...until I realized how quickly they outgrew things. That's when I discovered thrift stores. It's funny...I get a thrill whenever I go into Goodwill or Value Village. I tend to get a little giddy when we're out of town and pass one by...I always have to stop...just for a minute, I swear ;) It's amazing how many treasures you can find in those stores. I can't tell you how many times I've found new (seriously, tags still on!!!)items. It's the thrill of the hunt. My boys enjoy the best of both and used. There are certain things they like to purchase new, but other things that they know we should be looking for at thrift stores. I love that I've instilled that in them and that they're not too ashamed to admit it. Good work on your thrifting...I love the outfit in your pic and his superhero shirt is adorable. (I guess the fact that I shopped at BiWay in high school and the fact that I thrift shop now means that we should have been better friends in high school and can remain friends now!) p.s. - I'll confess that I spent an hour and a half at the Goodwill tonight with my cousin and aunt. I came out with an amazing tiered plant stand. I'm not sure what I'll do with it (thanks to Pinterest), but the fact that three people commented on it while it was in my cart reconfirms that it was a wise purchase!

  2. I love to thrift shop! What satisfaction to find an item in excellent shape that you want! I usually go at least once a week.

  3. We thrift for many, many reason. Saves money, better for the environment, not continuing to support foreign markets but rather local ones, etc.

    Sometimes, I cannot find what I want in the new realm anyway or I know it's going to be outgrown so quickly it's not worth it. We sell a lot of our used stuff at a local consignment store, get in store credit, and turn around and buy more used stuff. It's a great cycle actually.

  4. It's a good thing to teach your kids about the importance of money and thrifting. There's nothing wrong about buying in a thrift store. As long as you still get a good quality then it's fine.

  5. Most of the clothes my boys have was "handed" down from friends or bought at consignment shops. They outgrow things too fast to buy new. We also take our old toys and donate them, I think it's important to teach kids about giving the excess and about valuing things that still have life in them.

  6. Kim, you look absolutely wonderful!! I love your outfit! I think it's great to thrift :)
    P.S. The boys' matching jammies are SO cute! They look so darn happy.

  7. Oh, I'm a thrifter too!! I get clothes for myself and Noah, cameras, housewares...all sorts of stuff. You look fabulous and you guys are cute as ever! xxO

  8. I like the adventure of thrifting. I have actually found brand new skirts from Ann Taylor at thrift stores. One of my good friends has found several Coach purses. And I'm like you--let's reuse and recycle.

  9. As you well know, dear Kim, I love thrifting! I love it for the cheaper prices, I love it for the good it does keeping stuff out of landfills-but most of all I love it for the thrill of the hunt and never knowing what great find is just around the corner.

    Once again, there is so much about this post I can relate to-like the description of Deaglan sprawled out "spider-like". That describes Amy exactly in our bed when she was that age!

    But what really touched me this time was this:

    "I love Deaglan’s purity. Just ask him where he got his new firetruck the next time you see him. “Value Village!”, he’ll tell you with both pride and excitement. We could all learn a lot from him."

    Yes indeed! And he is the way he is because of the wonderful parents that you guys are:)

  10. Absolutely. I also am the Queen of Clearance.

  11. yay for the sleeping victory! the jammies are just too cute for words! Deaglan is a kid after my own heart. I'm a secret hoarder. I have a happy meal toy collection that would knock his socks off!

  12. Kim, you look so cute in that outfit!! The pjs are adorable. You are giving your boys' valuable lessons about being responsible citizens of this planet of ours. I have to take some cues from you and learn too!


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