9 Very Specific Feelings Only True Thrift Shop Lovers Understand (Because You Know You'll Take Store Credit)
Comparing regular shopping to thrift shopping is like comparing a leisurely Saturday afternoon stroll to a half-marathon, or a leisurely Saturday afternoon hand job to a 40-person orgy: one is a fun way to spend some time, but the other, my friend, is a lifestyle. Thrifting is more than just buying some new clothes: it's a calling, a hobby, and sometimes a vice (especially when you and your housemates have already had the "you're not allowed to bring home any more 'funny' vintage lamps" conversation this month). But more than anything else, thrift shopping is a rare chance to turn shopping into a creative act — an opportunity to make something our of almost nothing, to create a great outfit out of an old bathing suit top and some "as is" hot pants (yeah, there's some serious wear-and-tear in the lower butt cheek region, but you can probably fix that at home, right?).
But even though every individual thrift shopping expedition is a wholly unique adventure — this time, will you find a treasure, or just more slightly discolored, size XXL Coed Naked Lacrosse t-shirts? — there are certain feelings that pass through every thrifter's mind as they once again embark upon the hunt.
Is it a pastime? Is it an addiction? It's not for me to say; all I know is, it's cheaper than going to the mall, and has way more hilarious '70s lamps that look like bowling pins (come on, you can buy ONE more). If you know what I mean, surely you have experienced these nine feelings inside a thrift store's thrilling, dusty walls.
1. The Glory Of Finding Just What You Didn't Know You Needed
This is the high that gets you hooked on thrifting, and makes everything worth it — the moment when, after hours of poring over piles that seem to contain nothing but stonewashed maternity overalls and stained children's bathing suits, you find the dress or shoes or weird collector's plate that you know will finally make you emotionally whole. I finally found an authentic early '90s Blossom hat! No more therapy for me!
2. The Defeat Of Finding The Perfect Item In The Wrong Size
Of course, if it were that easy, everyone would be into thrifting, and you'd have to Hunger Games your way through the Salvation Army on a Sunday just to find a nice retro snow vest. No, in order to earn that one perfect find, you must first come across 10-20 perfect finds in the very wrong size.
Qualifying very wrong sizes include "so incredibly large that a tailor would laugh while locking their shop door in your face," "was this sized for a baby? I'm serious, did an ACTUAL BABY wear this dress?" and "I think I can get into it, if I just suck in my breath while you zip the zipper and then — awww, I ripped it."
3. The Delusion Of Convincing Yourself Something Is Cuter Than It Is
On days when you can't catch a break, thrifting can feel rough. And in those moments, sometimes we make the executive decision to soothe our battered souls by buying something terrible and pretending it is something good, rather than going home and admitting that we wasted many hours of our precious life pawing through bad stuff strangers threw away.
Yes, this hideous misshapen '80s dad sweater is what I was looking for the entire time! Yes, it is! YES IT IS. I can, um, belt it, and then it's a hideous misshapen sweater dress! Fun! It's only two dollars! LET ME HAVE THIS, I HAVE HAD A REALLY ROUGH WEEK.
4. The Judgement Of Being Buyer-Shamed
You love consignment shops like Buffalo Exchange for sure; but sometimes, you feel like that love is one-sided. Like when, say, you need some extra cash, so you round up some of your cutest, least worn-out outfits — outfits that have been complimented by close friends and baristas alike, outfits that you know are way nicer than half of the weird, stretched-out '90s cropped turtlenecks they sell at this store — only to be thrift-shamed by the shop's employees when you try to sell them there.
Do you, like, need the shop's policy explained to you? Right now, this shop is only buying for "spwinter" — a two week season between the end of real winter and the beginning of real spring that doesn't actually technically exist, so what qualifies for inclusion in it is very selective — and so they are sooooo sorry, but they can't buy any of your clothes this time. Now, will you stop taking up everyone's precious time? There are people on line behind you who bothered to bring actual clothes to sell. Feel free to leave your clothes in the donation bin up front, or also to burn them in a cleansing bonfire so that we can all pretend that they never existed.
5. The Particular Competitiveness Of Looking Through A Rack At The Same Time As Someone Your Size
Listen: thrift-shopping is not glamorous. It's mostly about spending hours digging through the previously-mentioned racks of stretched-out cropped turtlenecks from the '90s, looking for your ultimate treasure: a perfect '50s house dress, a mint condition '70s white spandex jumpsuit, a cropped turtleneck from the '90s that somehow isn't stretched out. But when you spot it, believe me, you're not the only person who noticed that you've uncovered the needle in the dusty, stained hay.
Odds are, the moment you spy your treasure on the rack, so will someone else. You'll eye each other across the way, daring each other to make the first move. What will happen? Will you be civilized and back off, telling yourself that there are other great scores you can take home, too? Or will this finally be the day you come to blows with a stranger over a pristine condition 1994 promotional Ren & Stimpy t-shirt? Only you can answer that — but trust that every thrifter will have to answer that question for themselves when the time comes.
6. The Eternal Dilemma Of Deciding Between Cash And Store Credit
So you actually managed to convince the store buyers that your clothes are actual clothes, not part of a hidden camera joke you're trying to play on them, and they bought a few. Congratulations! But now you have new dilemma on your hands: do you take the cash, which is the reason you came in in the first place? Or do you take the credit?
On one hand, you brought all your worldly possessions to this thrift shop in hopes of digging up enough cash to last you until you get paid again. But on the other hand: is the credit actually twice as much as the cash? How is that possible? In some ways, I'd be a fool not to take the store credit, right? I mean, this is longterm economic planning. This is what your parents have been begging you to do for years!
7. The False Hope That You'll Find An Underpriced Designer Piece
I mean, why couldn't today be the day when some vintage Prada pumps get accidentally mixed in with all the weird '80s aqua socks? And no one notices except you? And also they're marked at $12 for some reason?
8. The Insatiable Thrill Of The Chase
Even when you aren't finding anything amazing, the promise of that big score around the next corner — an untapped treasure, its beauty lost to everyone but you — is enough to keep you going. If you're a true thrifting addict, it will never be satiated.
9. The Particular Smugness Of Answering The Question 'Where'd You Get That?'
A.K.A. the feeling when someone stops you on the street and demands to know where you got your amazing dress, and you smugly say "Oh, it's vintage. And it cost four dollars."
Images: Comedy Central, Giphy (9)