Trash to Treasure

By Maryann
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In an attempt to de-stuff my house I have come to love the thrift store. I think I may now have my 6-year-old hooked on it also, only her love affair with it isn’t necessarily for de-stuffing purposes. Previously when I had a pile of stuff that needed to find a new home I would call Big Brother Big Sisters and have them pick it up, which truth be told was easier than lugging it all away myself. I forget the purpose for my initial trip, but I do remember my friend Lyle and I going to the thrift store at the Southbury Training School looking for who knows what. When I saw all the items they carried and would accept, I fell in love. When I purchased a couple of small items for next to nothing, I fell deeper in love.

I’ve made the trip now four or five times with the car loaded. Many of the items I know I could attempt to sell and try to earn some money for. Some I have tried with no success; bikes and an area rug are just a couple. Tag sales are great but I don’t have the patience and in the end there is still leftover stuff to get rid of. I’ve used Craigslist, but I always get nervous of who is coming to my house to pick the stuff up. I’ve never had a problem, but I am always afraid after reading stories on line. Honestly, I just want the stuff gone, out of my house, and the space it occupied back. Occasionally I’ll put it out on the front lawn, but then there is always the chance of rain and you are lugging it back inside again. Now it all goes in the car and to the local bargain hunters’ paradise.

Many years ago I used to go to the antique stores quite often with my mom and stepfather. I never became a collector of anything valuable; I liked to look around, it was like a treasure hunt and always exciting when I found something I liked. For a while I collected old hats, now Katie plays with them for dress up. Some odds and ends of old glass bottles I have kept, but most of the stuff has been passed on to some happy new owner. Finding things in the thrift store produces the same excitement just at an even lower cost. For example, after one trip to unload stuff, I had some time so I browsed around and found a nut grinder and a small stainless steel fry pan. Both items on my wish list for the kitchen, but because of cost I always put them off and made due with what I had. For less than $2, I now have the perfect pan for frying eggs and the nut grinder I wanted for baking.

I love it even more that they accept pretty much anything, especially children’s toys. Recently I dropped off my beloved collection of Disney VHS tapes. I collected them for years for myself, and after the TV needed to be replaced, we could no longer connect the VCR. I had them in the closet for a while and finally decided it was pointless. I couldn’t watch them so why hold on to them? Sure I could have had them converted, but honestly, it costs me a lot less to replace the ones I really liked with used DVDs than to pay someone to convert them, so off to the thrift store they went.

This week I had a box full of hinges and door knobs that I dropped off. They were all perfectly good and usable so I didn’t want to throw them out. The thrift shop was happy to have them. When I dropped them off I spent time shopping around and found a tube pan, something else on my wish list. It cost me $1. If I find I don’t use it often enough for it to earn its space in the kitchen then back to the thrift store it will go, and I won’t feel guilty about wasting $1.00 purchasing it.

I’m thankful that the thrift store is there. So much of what myself and others no longer use avoids the landfills and finds a new purpose. It reduces so much waste from resources to packaging. There are a few things I still prefer to purchase new like shoes and bed linens, but everything now is going on a wish list for the thrift store treasure hunt. Of course for everything one thing that comes home I try to send at least two out, the last thing I need is to collect more stuff.

Photo: Fotolia/Kellis