Thrifting and gifting

While my dislike of re-gifting is intense, I view thrift-gifts entirely differently. (Does that make sense? Maybe not.)

Many appealing objects end up in thrifts because of moves or  purges; the wiliest thrifters keep their eyes open all year long, because thrifts do get heavily picked in the fall. Increasingly, families who use the "Secret Santa" approach specify that the gift be secondhand, a welcome shift from brand-mania. And there's always an additional "gift": the thrift-gift keeps stuff out of landfills.

I've dressed the windows today in thrift-store finds destined as gifts... and gifts-to-me.

For family and friends


Left to right:
1. For our little grandson: Babar and Babar ABCs book; total, $3. One of my favourite thrift finds ever; Babar is a huge favourite of mine, despite the criticism of his colonial autocratic rule.
2. Etched crystal candy dish with pinecone motif, $2.50
3. Paperback edition of "To the Lighthouse", new condition, $1.50
4. Pair of kitty trinket dishes, $1.50

Gifts to me

By applying the same rules we use for shopping sales (Would I buy this full price? Does it work with my wardrobe? Is it in perfect condition?) I found a few things for winter:


Left: Moss green cotton velveteen Lady Hathaway jacket, $6
Centre: Luisa Cerano (a Berlin-based brand) marinière, $5
Right: Mohair scarf, made in France, $2

While riffling the rails, I chatted with a young woman who told me she buys only at thrifts, but recycles everything after several months. "I like to change up my clothes", she said, "have something different. So I wear it awhile and then bring it back!" That's a consumption style I'd never considered, but it beats retail fast fashion.

Here comes the season when we're enjoined to buy, either for Christmas, or via the hype of Black Friday. I am not immune to deals and dazzle, but am ever more drawn to what can be found by dedicating a few hours to considering others' castoffs.

Should  the item I've chosen not delight a family member, he can re-donate, or give it to his twin brother. (Looking at you, Etienne.) But I have a good enough hit rate, from bathtub toys to toques, to keep picking up things for those I love.

Do you thrift-gift? How do you find your treasures? Or do you prefer to shop retail?



16 comments

Madame Là-bas said...

I would thrift gift for my daughter as she has a favourite local consignment store. The proprietor knows her and I have a pretty good "hit rate" with her. Our tastes are growing more similar as she gets older.

materfamilias said...

I haven't much, but I would. So far, I haven't had the time to do the necessary browsing, but now that we're settling in here and I'm catching the rhythm of my retirement, I might do. As with new-retail shopping, though, it would have to be an item I knew was what someone wanted, especially for my kids and g'kids. There's no room for waste, and I wouldn't want to foist a "getting-rid-off-discreetly-and environmentally responsibly" problem onto a loved one. . . .

Duchesse said...

materfamilias: I don't have any problem with mistakes. I say to my kids, "If it's not right, just donate it on".

The most I spent at once was about $65 for my friend Marina (about which I posted last summer). There was no option to return (as I'd have passed the time limit), but I figured what the hey, the charity store is a good cause and I had such fun picking. M. would have just redonated the things that weren't right (but everything was!)

Duchesse said...

Mme Là-bas: Thanks to you and materfamilias, I realize a major block for some in thrift shopping is "if I get it wrong, they can't exchange". Several thrifts where I shop will take things back for exchange only, but the window is short- days, not weeks as is the usual policy in retail. Occasionally I have bought, for example, a shirt for a son that he did not like, and I'm past the deadline. OK, so I'm out $5. Rather than fret, I treat it as a donation.

With kids' books, I treat thrifts as a lending library with a dollar or two donation attached.

Jane said...

That is an interesting rule - would I buy it at full retail? I'm afraid I just broke that rule with a cream, wool cardigan from Goodwill. I fear I fell for the label. My rules for thrifting are, new condition, in style, proper fit.

My husband and I differ on whether a used item is appropriate for gift giving. He does find bargains though! I prefer to give gifts that are unique to our area and are consumable. Most people just have too much stuff! I also give cash. Who doesn't love a little fun money for a treat?

I received a used, crystal candy dish for a wedding gift. It still had crumbs in it!

materfamilias said...

A good attitude to have, and really, compared to the pocketbook dangers of new retail shopping, it's win-win for shopper, thrift store operator, and the earth...

Duchesse said...

Jane: I live in a small condo, so I have to be strict; have passed up some very nice things because not quite my colour. The candy dish story "takes the cake"! I don't restrict gifts to thrifts; like you, I like to give things made locally.

I have, though, found things you can use up in thrifts: art supplies, those bound blank notebooks, and just last week, a container of bath confetti that gradually melts, to amuse our grandson. And books, if you count those.

mater: I forgot to tell you about my girlfriend Jeanne who visited last summer and we found a new Rudsak wool and leather car coat, unworn condition- and then a designer blazer (absolutely current) and a sundress. Total cost $24. She could not believe it, as had never thrifted.

LauraH said...

Must admit I don't thrift. Maybe it's because I'm put off by going through a mountain of stuff or by the lack of thrift stores close to home or ...maybe I'm just not much of shopper. I love the idea of re-using and recycling so I try to apply that to other areas of my life. Now if only there a thfift store for garden plants:-) Oh...and I must tell you, on my recent tour with a bunch of New Zealanders, I heard a lot about 'the Op Shop', their version of thrift. One woman decorated her entire house that way and another bought her clothes for the trip and was planning to re-donate them when she returned.

Duchesse said...

LauraH: If you don't enjoy the hunt, it's not for you. Some thrifts and all the consignments are organized like proper retail stores: things sized and hung by colourways; changing rooms, bathrooms (some). Some thrifts have "designer" racks with what they think are better items.

But I have my limits: walked into a vintage shop that smelled so heavily of mildew that I fled. And junk stores don't do it for me.

Plants: have seen at yard sales.

It is a brilliant idea to buy clothes for a trip to a locale or a setting where you are unlikely to get use of the things once you are home. There are always lots of tees in excellent condition. A friend who was a fly fisher used to buy lightweight cotton pants and shirts at thrifts, and wear them fishing, then discard.

lagatta à montréal said...

I just love the colour and cut of that green velveteen jacket. It is hard to find kind greens like that.

I've found some lovely things for friends at charity shops, bazaars and other thrifts, and for myself. But the pickings of some items (silver jewellery) seem slimmer and nowadays there is a lot of throwaway tat. I missed St-Madeleine d'Outremont last week (working); a male friend found a beautiful casual woollen jacket. I've bought very high quality clothing for babies and small children there.

I've been clearing out a lot in recent months, so I've been more involved in taking items to charity shops and bazaars than buying there. Imperative to keep a small flat tidy, when one isn't particularly thus. By bicycle, by bus, a couple of time by a neighbour's car - though I gave her some very nice antique chairs in exchange; don't want to be an eco-leech.

Duchesse said...

lagatta: Good for you! It feels good to donate.

It is easy for avid thrifters to bulk up their cupboards. (There I am, holding, say, a handpainted butter dish, that is less than the price of diner coffee. But would I use it?)

materfamilias said...

Thanks for remembering that, K. Reminds me of that lovely day you and I spent together in To., so many years ago, from which I came home with a boho black dress . . . must thrift you in Montreal one of these summers, okay?

Duchesse said...

materfamilias: You are SO on!

These posts that report interesting finds probably do not represent the number of times I come home empty-handed. You know what a small condo means, no more "bring it home and see if I wear it"!

Susan said...

We also love Babar at our house. Thank you for remind me as our granddaughter is getting close to the age to enjoy his stories.

Susan said...

reminding me, not remind me. I wish there was an edit function!

Rita said...

I love thrift shopping! If I see something that I know a friend would love, I buy it. The only thrift store I don't like has everything sorted by color only. I've told them that is a dumb idea, because I can easily see the color of a garment, it's the SIZE I have to search out! So, I rarely visit that store. But I did find a vicuna coat for $5 there once.