Monthly Archives: November 2009

Thrifting for Michael Jackson by Jess Burg

Im excited to introduce you to our very first guest-blogger post by fellow thrift guru, Jess Burg. Jess is the real deal. I’ve seen her sport some of the wildest, most rare thrift threads out there folks. She will be contributing here all week and hopefully a lot more in the future. She brings a good female perspective on thrift culture and a great fashion mindset to Things I Found, (something that I feel this blog has been sorely lacking.) Here is her first inspiring piece about how Michael Jackson fuels her thirst and tastes when it comes to thrifting. Enjoy!

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I want to get closer to Michael Jackson in any way possible. Being that I feel robbed of my first idol and self-proclaimed God all too soon, thrifting makes for a good coping mechanism. In theory, I can always find something to remind me of him and the legacy he left.

It used to be, the one item that was easily found in any thrift store was an old beat up vinyl copy of Thriller. When Michael passed, mourning fans and others who tried to sell them on eBay seized every last copy. Still there are many MJ gems to be discovered. Common thrift item such as crazy leather jackets, shoulder padded blouses with pop-up collars, patent leather ankle boots or even the right glove. Once you stop and look, it’s undeniable; his stylistic influences are all over the thrift store. I call his style “sexy tough.”

Some of my favorite Michael inspired items include the following:

A glittery silver knitted blouse with padded shoulders I wore one New Years Eve. A black, hybrid combo of mesh and cotton t-shirt with gold embroidery separating the two textures. I like wearing it when I know serious dancing will ensue. A few studded black belts that resemble those he sported in the “Bad” video. Then, my pride is the high tops I found. The funny thing about the day I found them is I bought them not knowing what they were. For $20 I became the proud owner of a pair of limited edition, Michael Jackson LA Gear high top sneakers. They are so tough! The shoe is modeled similar to early 90s basketball high tops except I’ve never seen B-ball shoes covered in luminous silver studs. In typical LA Gear fashion, two kinds of laces, black and silver sparkle, weave in and out of the shoe. Black leather straps with silver tips and little silver buckles adorn the tops and outer side of the shoe. On the tongue, the sanctified insignia of the King of Pop, knees bent and on his toes, replicating the same move in Moonwalker. A perfect 7.5 fit, I believe that these sneakers chose me. I’ve maybe worn them out of the house twice. I will have them for the rest of my life and honor them as the holiest of all memorabilia. They will be passed down to my children’s children in hopes that his prophecies of “Take a look at your self and make that change,” will one day come true.

– Jess Burg

MCAD Art Sale – Go buy stuff.

Lots of good art, for cheap, before some of these kids get huge. Great place to buy wall adornments to give as holiday gifts.

How I Paid My Rent For 6 Months By Thrifting

Let me first start by saying that having to make rent this way was in no way fun or recommended. Unless you’re retired or insanely dedicated to it. Paying my rent for 6 months via scraping by on reselling thrifted goods was a ton of work. I was able to utilize my in-depth knowledge of web selling platforms to more easily liquidate most of the items. I was able to achieve this feat mainly by selling just a few items each month that made up most of my then $800 a month rent. On a soapbox-rant side note: let me say that when congress or some rogue old senator (who you know doesn’t even use the web) dabbles with the idea of taxing people’s income from selling items on sites like eBay and Etsy, it makes me seriously cringe. Some folks do this for a living and it’s grueling. An extremely slim percentage of the web sellers are making good coin from doing it. Like I said above, reselling items for a living is not what I’d call fun.

HOW DID I DO IT? You have to have a keen eye for items that you know will sell. “Don’t sell what you don’t know.” A bus driver wouldn’t apply for a job as an Army helicopter pilot would he? You have to know what you’re looking at or you’ll waste a lot of money on stuff you can’t liquidate and end up  looking like a hoarder with a garage full of junk. My item of choice was art, because that’s what I’m comfortable in. Having a fine art and design background I was able to find rare prints that had probably been turned in by someone who didn’t know any better. I found real screen prints by David Weidman, hand-colored etchings by UK artist Jo Barry, and ORIGINAL impasto oil paintings by Italian artist P.G. Tiele (which still blows my mind!)  I also found art objects such as original McCoy pottery and vintage little sculptures and plant holders from various artists & eras that sold for amounts that still surprise me to this day. America is a nation of collectors and when they see an item they want or don’t have – you bet your ass they’ll pay for it. What happens is when someone passes, all of their stuff has to be dealt with by their spouse or relatives. Most of the time it’s in hasty fashion and a lot of the items get put in a box and donated to thrift stores – that’s just my guess. Whereby, I heroically pluck them from their dusty shelves and find a better venue for them to be noticed and subsequently sold. In some ways I’m helping keep these works of art from the trash or thrift store purgatory. In a way I’m helping to connect the items with someone who collects or genuinely cherishes that artists’ work.

WHERE DID I FIND THE TIME TO DO ALL OF THIS THRIFTING? I  had the time to pull this off because I was freelancing at in the evenings and would go out and thrift by day to avoid heavy crowds. Being a night owl, doing this by day made it exactly like having a 8-5 day job. I’d set my alarm and get up to go hit my spots 6 days a week. Through this experience I quickly learned how, when, and what time the newest goods were delivered to each location. I even started to notice (and feel) like some of those old creeps sitting in their cars for the stores or garage sales to open, just to be the first to get in there and peruse. QUICK TIP: using a phone with fast and strong internet can help you quick google search any artist or pot or item you think may have good value. I personally use an Apple iPhone  and will attribute it to helping me find and sort through a lot of the stuff I’ve scored over the past couple years, all while shopping in the store!

It’s now been well over a year since I was doing this and have found a real comfort in knowing that if I ever hit a rough patch again in my life, that I’ll be just fine due to my sheer resourcefulness. Anyone can do this if they really have to. It may take a little bit of studying and a keen eye but you can pull it off. The thrill of scoring something you know isn’t supposed to be in there for $2.99 is the best feeling in the world. It’s a rush and it’s frankly why I manifested it into this blog.

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Please stay tuned because my upcoming post will cover the best things to search for at a thrift store.

Things I’ve Found Lately (and why).

This week I go solo and show you some personal items I’ve recently nabbed. I cover what I look for in a thrift store, and what you should be keeping and eye out for when you’re out thrifting. Click the image above for the video.

I also posted a few shots from some other goods I picked up recently. Mostly books – as usual. All of the books were under a buck. The camera bag (shown in the video) was $2.99.

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* HEAD ON OVER: Arc’s Value Village Thrift Stores & Donation Centers Opens in Saint Paul. Arc’s Value Village Thrift Stores & Donation Centers will become a part of the rich retail history of White Bear Avenue with the opening of Arc’s fourth and largest Twin Cities store in the Hillcrest Shopping Center, 1650 White Bear Ave. N., St. Paul. Hillcrest Shopping Center is just south of Highway 36 on White Bear Avenue, near Aldrich Arena. The store will celebrate with a Grand Opening on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009.