Monthly Archives: February 2010

Top 10 Things I Hate About Thrift Stores

So this blog is generally about how much I love thrift stores, junkin, and photos of the stuff we find. However, there are some aspects about thrifting that bug the crap out of me. You knew this was coming sooner or later. So I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list with some examples of each. Feel free to comment or email me with any  that I may have overlooked. This list is an organic and growing thing. I’ll repost an updated version in a year or so and we’ll see what’s been added. It’ll  be fun. Help me out here!

1.) Drafters or “Clingons”

These are the people that use YOU as their browsing tool. This is a rare occurrence at a thrift shop but you’ve probably encountered one of these bastards at a record store or garage sale. They’ll lurk about a foot behind you in order to let you do their flipping or perusing of the rack of items. The simplest way (at least in the Midwest) is to give a courtesy glance over the shoulder just once. To let the drafter know you know what they’re doing and you don’t appreciate it. If the problem persists try a reversal technique and creep them out OR a simple “Backthefuckup” usually will get the point across. Don’t be a Clingon folks.

2.) Goo Goo Dolls (or similar) Music

This is a serious problem. I don’t hate their music, but I don’t exactly love it either. Somehow there seems to always be a Goo Goo Dolls song on in every thrift store I’ve ever patronized. That shit gets stuck in your head for hours if not days. Is there some “ALL GOO GOO DOLLS ALL THE TIME! on RADIO GOO 104!” station that I don’t know about? To all the thrift store owners – change the station, because your employees are about to revolt.

3.) Intimates or Underwear

We’ve all seen it so this one is pretty much self-explanatory. The tighty-whiteys on the wire clip hanger. I don’t know who is buying these or why stores really even bother to sell them. If they’re in the package fine, but I’m still not buying them. How much is a packet of new underwear anyways? It can’t be THAT much more expensive to rest assured knowing that your drawers didn’t touch some other persons naynay or heehee, right? CAN I GET AN AMEN!

4.) Mis-categorization of Goods

Put that stuff where it belongs – or at least try.  Everything can be categorized and everything should be in the section that makes the most logical sense. You should know this unless you never had a mom.

5.) Helter-Skelter Stores

I love a good hunt as much as the next guy, but some stores are so helter-skelter that your eyes hurt after a few minutes of looking, because its so much to take in. I shouldn’t have to pass through an aisle 4-5 times just to feel like I’ve perused it comfortably enough to move one to the next one. These are usually the stores that do a ton of volume per day. Loosely clumped zones of semi-similar items works the best.

6.) Inconsistent pricing

This shit just kills me. Sometimes identical items will be side by side on the shelf and one will be insanely higher priced. It’s also why I don’t frequent certain stores as much as I’d like to. There is an upside to this in that most stores will let you have the item you want for the lower or same price should you want both. If not, just peel the tag off of something else and stick it onto the item you want. Ethical? No. But neither is paying $4.99 for a blank t-shirt because Margie hadn’t had her coffee and half a pack of Misty Slims yet.

7.) Overly Organized Stores

These stores remove all element of hunt and search, which is a major factor in why I love to thrift. If  a store is too organized it gives the impression that nothing will be a bargain or mislabeled  and that’s going to  make me leave ASAP.

8.) People haggling for hangers, or haggling in general.

It’s a thrift store. Pretty much nothing over $10. Don’t be that guy.


9.) Fitting Rooms.

These are usually an afterthought by employees. People understandably leave garments they don’t want in there (I’m guilty of it) and sometimes they can build up. Oh yea, and Jess said she saw human poop once on the floor of one. Just sayin.

10.) Missing objects.

This one ranked high in the furious category with the ladies. Nothing worse than finding 1 great shoe with no match or a puzzle or game with a missing piece. It has to be all or nothing, no gray zone. My personal suggestion is to just have an employee dedicated to checking them as best they can. Google the game’s name and you can usually find out  the instructions which list the number of pieces and stuff that’s supposed to be included in the box. Then just  rubberband/tape them and assure the people that they’re all there or they can have their money back. Simple as that.

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How To Save Your Old School Kicks

Written by Jess Burg:

The lovely Jess Burg comes at us with another excellent guest post. How to save your old school kicks. I know that I didn’t know any of these tricks aside from tossing them in the washing machine (which can yield mixed and unwanted results.) Enjoy and show Jess some love!

Thrifting is the cheapest way to find one-of-a-kind old school sneakers. The only problem is that typically they don’t hold up as long. It’s always a sad day when you come to terms with letting go of a pair of beloved kicks. In my days of purchasing old sneakers made in the 80’s and 90’s many of the same terminal issues seem to occur. In one case, the sole of the shoe had fallen off entirely. With many older shoes, the foamy midsole begins to crack and fall apart a little bit at a time. This is why I have done some internet research in an effort to learn any tricks to salvaging and restoring sneakers.

If you find an old pair of Nikes or New Balances that look like they were an awesome pair of shoes it may not be inconceivable to bring them back. It is possible to restore sneakers to an almost “good as new” condition.

Look at how this sneaker head was able to transform these Newbies from “beater” to “beast”. If you are willing to put in the effort you must have patients and be willing to think outside the box.

In case you need some help thinking outside the box, there is a sneaker restoration kit that comes in a box. JGoods Sneaker Restoration Kits, equipped with most of the tools you will need to restore old kicks on a superficial level. It comes with a restoration guide, which I know I would love to page through. This kit is priced at $35.

The kit includes:

The JGoods™ Guide to Sneaker Restoration

  • 12” by 12” white towel
  • Stiff Poly Scrub Brush
  • Melamine Foam Pad
  • JGoods Finish Remover
  • White and Black JGoods Leather Paint
  • One High Quality Paint Brush
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Scourer Sponge

Check out this pair of Jordans from niketalk.yuku.com. This guy restored them using some unconventional sneaker cleaning methods.

Before: Notice the Yellow tint the mesh and soles. After: Wow!

He used Barkeeper’s Friend on the tongue and upper mesh. Black Magic Tire Wet was used to bring out a little more shine on the patent leather. Armor All was used on the rest of the shoe to remove any spots of dirt and maintain plastic material. Finally, Sea Glow with the special blue coloration was used to make dull, yellowed (supposedly ‘white’) plastics snow-white again on the soles.

Cost: $5                                     Cost: $6            Cost: 4 Oz MiniPack (with scuff pad) $15.95

Hopefully this will help you restore some of those thrift treasure finds to as-good-as-new. Us here in the upper-Midwest understand how bad of a beating our kicks can take from the snow, slush, and salty conditions.

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Hoarders vs. Thrifters

So for the past year or so I’ve been obsessed with A&E’s show Hoarders. Now, I realize that the main focus of the show is to address the problem situations that these people have come full on with and then showing how the specialists and professional organizers manage each situation, but there’s something that always bothers me about the show. Each episode a 1-800-GOT-JUNK truck pulls up (whom I’m sure has an exclusive contract with the show) and then the house in most episodes is purged of all it’s crap that has built up, then the stuff is hauled away to some undisclosed location. What I don’t understand is in the houses where there’s not poop smeared on the walls and where it’s just a lot of new/unused/volumes of stuff – why don’t they have a garage or estate sale?

About 50% of the episodes the underlying reason is that the people feel the need to hold on to their items due to financial constraints, fearing that  if they get rid of an item, that they’d need to spend the money to purchase a new one eventually. In the most recent episode the hoarder confided to the camera that she wanted to keep a pair of (in my opinion what looked to be shitty cheap K-mart lamps) “because they were a pair”. She went on to state that she “could go find a tacky lamp at a thrift store for cheap” but wanted to keep the ugly ones…because they were a pair. This pissed me off because of some peoples’ reputation of thrift stores is that there is nothing good in them. Which isn’t true of course, it’s people like that who have no imagination, no artistic inklings to realize that there is good stuff and not all stuff is even old or tacky in thrift stores. That very reason alone is what separates a hoarder from a thrifter. Thrifters can think on their feet, their savvy, they’re resourceful, they like stuff that just works.

What these folks don’t realize is that if they had a garage sale just once a year or every couple of years, it not only helps thin down all of your belongings but also can make you some serious cash. See my tips for having a garage sale post from a while back here. I know that this is a bit idealistic and that this might come off as insensitive. Most of the cases are people who have pretty harsh mental issues and it boils down to just needing to get the volume of stuff out of their premise. My mother’s garage sale alone made over $2000 (yes THREE zeros) last year! *I should note that her sale is usually combined with a neighbor or two and usually some friends decide to put some items on her sale as well. It’s win-win. The larger the sale the more people show up. Her garage sale has built up a reputation for being big – and having a great variety of good stuff. She has a garage sale twice a year in the spring and the fall. Come hell or high water – tons of people show up in droves.

Here’s my idea: Not too unlike a couple of shows on HGTV or Discovery, I wish (in the cases where it’s plausible) that they’d have the hoarders pick and choose what items they want to sell and then have massive garage sale. Simple as that, have a sale, then the crap that doesn’t sell – they donate or toss. Readers of this blog probably think I have items everywhere in my house, but I don’t. I mostly re-sell what I buy or it’s something I needed. I just think it’s a missed opportunity by the show to address cases where American consumerism has run rampant, and to show the viewing public a great way to help themselves by making some cash or even just taking a long hard look at what they purchase and accrue. My personal “I can re-sell this”  mentality was acquired from growing up and watching my mother turn our seemingly useless piles of junk that slowly built up every year into some serious cash. It’s what helps me maintain a fine balance of the stuff I buy. The show sometimes leaves me depressed and unfulfilled because I feel sorry for the folks that aren’t quick enough to realize that they can change their situation or because they were just never taught how to keep their stuff clean and tidy. It all boils down to parenting in some respect.

Always remember a favorite quote of mine: “he who dies with the most toys is still dead” right?

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Oh yea, and here’s my personal Twitter handle as well: @JPeddycoart