Monthly Archives: December 2009

Why I Do It by Jess Burg

AS I PROMISED TO ALL YOU JACKALS. Here is second installment from Jess Burg. She spits some truth on why she thrifts and we reveal some of her most recent footwear (AND a kitty mug!) findings. Now that the holidays are almost over we can all take a big sigh of relief. Get out there and get diggin!

I’d say I began getting serious about thrifting in 2006. It’s never been a source of income. On the contrary, I’ve been known to drop up to $50 – $75 in a day. At best there have been instances where I buy shoes for $10, where them out once in six months, then sell them to Buffalo Exchange for $18. Even then I only get a percentage. I do it for two reasons:

Relaxation. It’s a Sunday afternoon and I have money to spare. So I throw some bones at the gas pump and head out on a thrift mission. I follow a mental treasure map of different suburban regions. Typically I only follow routes that have two or more promising thrift destinations. Somehow, this has become one of my favorite things to do. My quality alone time, my escape. I’ve begun needing it on a regular basis.

The thrill of finding shit. My forte’ is retro fashion, particularly boots and sneakers. But I’ll buy almost anything that is a true representation of its fashion era. I also do some of my own altering. Boys and girls, if you thrift hard and you don’t own a sewing machine, you’re missing out. It will open up your world. I don’t even know how to do anything too technical. Mostly making shirts smaller or transforming them into tank tops, or turning a pair of high-waisted Lees into skinny jeans. Simple things that with a little trial and error anyone can figure out. Cute jeans today, as we all know – come at a high price. I’d rather not pay for the cost of the label and just do it myself. In truth, they won’t last as long and may require some unexpected tune-ups, but that is something I can live with.

– Jess Burg

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SORT OF RELATED: That’s not Jess pictured above, but it’s a pic from a great fashion-inspiring site called Hel-Looks. It’s basically some people walking around the urban streets of Helsinki, Finland snapping pics of all the various fashion going on there. Check out the site. HEL-YEA.

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Thrift Gifts – What To Give and What Not To Give.

The holidays are upon us and for some people that pesky recession is still in full effect. Whether you have the means or not, most folks are probably going to be conscious of their spending this holiday season – or until the economy completely “recovers”. With that said Jess and I have been working on a post to divulge the best thriftable holiday gifts to give. Jess sums it up best below:

So here we are at another holiday crossroads. I know for me Christmas lost its sentiment a few years ago. Reason being, time and money. The idea of dedicating my weekends driving around to different malls or shops searching for the perfect gift seems torturous. Especially since holiday shopping has turned into the latest extreme sport. The obvious answer… thrifting for holiday gifts.

MAKE A LIST, CHECK IT TWICE: Before you start you may want to make a list of the people you are shopping for to ensure no one is left out. Even Santa has a list. Plus, last minute holiday shopping is no bueno.

PLAN YOUR ROUTE, ALLOW FOR SURPRISES: If you’re like me you’ll want to get it all done in one day. Google maps is the best way to map out an attack strategy. Simply pick your general destination and search for thrift stores. Even if you have a regular set route, you may discover another store not too far out of the way.

HUNT IN THE DOWNTIMES: Obviously weekends are going to be a circus. If you are lucky enough to dedicate a weekday, don’t think twice, just do it. If you’re really feeling adventurous, make a day trip out of it and drive into the unknown countryside. Just make sure you call beforehand to assure the locations are open.

HIT EM WITH THE WARM & FUZZY: Which brings us to what to get. Thrift store holiday shopping is a bit of a challenge for one reason. You don’t want to give people junk. Put your gift ideas into perspective for the individual recipient. You don’t want to be like my uncle Dan, who notoriously dishes out useless crap at Christmas, such as “used flash lights” and “marine biology periodicals.”

These are our top thrift store holiday gift ideas:

T-Shirts & Cardigans. I fall back on thrift store t shirts for many occasions. The more funny and random the better. Try to find shirts that are a poly-cotton blend. They are the most comfortable.

Mexican Woven Blankets. They are vibrant and warm. Just make sure it’s in good condition, no stains.

Needle Point package. There are some pretty rad needle point patterns out there. You can choose to either give the gift away in the package for your crafty friends, or do the work yourself and frame it. You can find some really neat vintage ones on Etsy too.

Books. These are usually pretty easy to come by if you know the person’s literature preferences well enough. Any book you can usually find in a used book store or a Half Price Books – you can usually find it eventually in a thrift store, for half the used price.

Mugs. The funny and ironic, the ones with states, countries or kittens on them are always a safe bet.

Vintage Decanters. With a recent spike in interest from shows like Mad Men and Wine Library.TV I’ve started noticing that thrift stores are brimming with vintage decanters. Some of them are truly unique and beautiful. They can be used for red wine(s), and/or any hard liquor. Classy.

Board games. This is a new favorite of mine. I love hunting for a particular board game and then eventually finding it all in tact. Some recent favorites of mine are Apples to Apples, and Rummikub. These also provide a post-meal/post-present opening fun time with your family. NOTE: Heavy drinking makes any board game that much more fun with family…

That should be quite enough to encourage you all to get out there and get thrifting for some of your gifts this year. Time is running out! We’d also like to know what you all think would make a great thrift gift. Comment or email in. Have you ever given or received a thrifted gift? MERRY THRIFTSMAS TO ALL.

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Ugly Gem Sweater Holiday Cash

BUY LOW, SELL HIGH: So in keeping with the theme of finding and selling thrifted stuff for CASH, I’ll let you guys in on a little secret. IT’S UGLY XMAS SWEATER WEEK! That’s right, for a couple years now I’ve been slowly buying amazingly awesome/hideous ugly holiday sweaters for reselling. This is the best week to list and sell those babies, you’ve got a few days left to hunt and find some of these in the thrift stores. Desperate, uncreative, drones will pay top dollar off of eBay and Craigslist to try and out-tacky their peers and co-workers at their holiday parties. The best time to pick them up is in the off months, summer and spring when the holidays are off of people’s radars and the thrift stores aren’t gouging the prices just before the holidays. Pictured above are 3 “gems” that I’m selling this year. The one with santa and reindeer (which I picked up for $2.99) already sold on eBay for $64 – can you believe that?! Someone’s going to make it rain this Christmas. Anyways, I initially felt apprehensive about even telling you lovelies this secret lil cash niche – but I love you all… well, most of you. So happy holidays and get out there and get diggin.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The ones with “bedazzlement” and “rhinestone gem jewels” like Leslie and the LY’s rocks in most of her videos. These are the most desirable and fetch the most cash. Anyone remember this video she did with Space150 in 2005 for Gem Sweaters, pure gold. Another thing to look for is the general tackiness of the garment. The more tassles, and  bells and stuff hanging off of it, the better. Finally, a big secret is to find the more general ones (not everyone celebrates Christmas). The ones with bells, or holly, or gingerbread men on them. These ones make them more overall appealing to people of all faiths. Go buy a few packets of gems and puffy balls and some Aleene’s fabric glue from Wal-Mart’s craft section and gem them up yourself. In the stack photo above you can peek a couple more generally ugly one’s that I plan to gem up while watching TV or listening to records. Here’s a great Flickr set showcasing some brutally awesome holiday sweaters.

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“Find A Better Stash Spot” or “Random Smatterings”

It’s been a while since I’ve done an old school post with actual Things I’ve Found (in thrift stores). There’s quite a smattering – so here goes: I found some stuff that I’ve already re-sold, like that vintage Magnus chord organ (bought for $10, I’m not saying what it sold for!)

Also nabbed an old Boo Berry toy bank from the 1970’s ($1.99) Boo Berry was and still is my favorite kid’s cereal. I found a vinyl 12″ LP too awesome to pass up. German dance/punk from 1982? HELL YES. Some band on the canadian label Yul Records called Rational Youth. I took a small chance on it because I dug the artwork ($.99) and it’s really really rad. Check them out on iTunes when you get a chance. There’s a railroad book in there ($2.99) with some really good illustrations and old railroad posters.

My two favorite absorption’s this week were my little squirrel planter ($1.99). I needed some greenery on my desk at work so I bought that cute lil guy, he reminds me of the reckless and hilarious red squirrel I have living in my backyard. I put a little spider plant in there. The second is that Red Owl sewing kit. I didn’t technically thrift this as my grandmother donated it to me, but I wanted to show it anyways. I grew up being slowly pushed  through Red Owl from that upper kid’s seat in the shopping cart, strange comforts can be found in grocery stores as a kid. All those colors, shapes, packages calling out to you. Probably threw a few tantrums to get some Boo Berry. As a designer it just doesn’t get any better than that logo, man I love it. One of the best logos of all time.

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The Star Tribune reports on SOME DUMBASS: In Marietta, Ohio – Police said whoever donated a water jug to a charity in southeast Ohio probably didn’t mean to be so generous. The jug contained about $1,500 worth of marijuana. Police said workers at a local Goodwill Industries site recently found four bags of marijuana when they looked inside a water jug left outside by an anonymous donor. They turned the two-gallon metal jug and the pound or so of marijuana over to police on Friday. Marietta police Capt. Jeff Waite said the jug is probably an antique. He said authorities would be more than happy for the jug’s donor to come forward and claim it. (Thanks Jess).

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From one Pyrex/GlasBake fan to another – great collection man! Seattle’s own John Pashek elicits some jealousy right here with an incredible photo set of his Pyrex cookware collection.

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A TIFATTS fan from sunny San Diego sent in this link a while back. It’s cuddly stuffed animatronic toys, without all the fluffy cuddly stuff. Some really creepy shit in here. An excellent art project idea simply made from thrift store stuffed animals.

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