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The Charm of Thrift Stores & Recycled Gifts

By Larraine Roulston:

Those of us who are downsizing or decluttering will bundle up  unwanted clothes and trinkets to donate to nonprofit organizations. Whether we take items to a thrift store, drop-off box location, or have them picked up by a used clothing or household goods drive, it is almost certain that our old treasures will find a good home. Even an outdated movie projector will be picked up by somebody who loves to tinker or to collect vintage objects. If you are donating a considerable number of items,  inquire as to whether they can provide you with a tax receipt for your charitable donation.

Thrift stores are known by several different names such as Community-Care, Salvation Army, Goodwill and Value Village.thrift shop There also are stores set up by volunteers to support churches, women’s shelters and abandoned animals. If you are like me and do not frequent malls, department stores or box stores, thrift stores are a great alternative.

In fact, my family has come to expect previously used gifts. Over the years I have purchased ice skates, wool, clothes, a hat for weddings, sporting goods, board games, dishes and kitchen needs, jigsaw puzzles, knitting needles, VHS and DVD movies, toys and books. With Halloween around the corner, they are a terrific place to look for costumes.

When my daughter mentioned that she and her husband wanted to learn to play tennis, I headed to a thrift store and located two brand name racquets so they could try the game before committing to a membership. They love the racquets and will not replace them. These stores always have clean merchandise that is creatively displayed. I find them hard to resist, even if my intent is simply to browse.

Consignment shops are wonderful.  Not only can you receive money for your items, but also the prices are reasonable. thrift store shoppingThey are great places to shop if looking for a prom dress.

Antique stores have always had a charm of their own, where one is apt to discover something unique. Flea markets also display a variety of old fashioned objects.

Estate sales or auctions are always fun to attend. As well, liquidation stores are well worth visiting while purchasing furniture.

thrift shopping mainUsed bookstores are delightful. In Victoria, British Columbia, Camas Books and Info-shop is a nonprofit all-volunteer-run bookstore that is interesting to enter, with its funky decor and old style chairs situated for those wishing to read. Although it carries fiction, their main focus is on indigenous, political, environmental and social issues. This store also hosts community events and products made by local artisans, and includes a rack with some cloth bags made from recycled t-shirts.

Studio Art Tours are worth the effort to see, especially if you are looking for special gifts. Here you will find amazing crafts by talented local artists. This September, I attended our art tour in northern Ontario and purchased, from Tarnished Treasures Creative Cutlery, a ring made from a spoon. By recycling silver cutlery and tea sets, old coins, bits of copper and other odds and ends found in tool kits, several artists are now creating lovely jewelry and ornaments.

Besides low prices and variety, you will be supporting your local community. Why not announce to friends who are inclined to give you a gift that your choice would be a surprise from a thrift store?  The charm is that you never know what they will find.

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Larraine authors children’s illustrated adventure books at www.castlecompost.com

About Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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