The joys of second-hand shopping

Auburn Drive High School
Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia

By Mary G. (Grade 12)

Today, I'm going to focus on the joys of second-hand shopping as opposed to buying clothes right off the hanger from the Gap. Don't get me wrong, I love the Gap too, but there are definite advantages in checking out your local thrift store. For those of you who insist on wearing nothing but the latest brand name clothes, this article may not be for you. Then again, for those of you who insist on wearing nothing BUT second-hand clothes, this article, may not be for you either. I'm going to try to strike a balance between the two.

Let me tell you about a typical day at the mall for me, assuming I have a good amount of money in my wallet. I usually start off by going into Smart Set where I try on a couple of shirts. As much as I don't like them on me, I always have a sales rep who says, "Oh, that looks really great on you!", while my friend is standing off to the side giving me a look that says "NO". I feel almost guilty for not liking them as I kindly say, "Um, it's just not me. Thanks anyway!" I run out of the store and head upstairs to Club Monaco - my personal favourite. (Not only are the clothes great but the guys are cute too!) I usually see a few things there that I like but that's just the problem. I want almost everything in that store! I really can't afford to pay $60.00-70.00 for a little shirt that I'll get tired of in a few months. If I do buy it, though - and I usually do - my money is half spent on ONE shirt! Sure, my friends ooh and aah about it but it's ONE shirt! I wonder why I end up paying so much money for something that is a remake of retro when I can get the real thing for $2.99 at Value Village?

After this, I head out of the store, happy with my new clothes (or should I say cloth) but complaining about my financial lot in life. I head into the Gap, another favorite of mine, look around, see a pair of socks for about $20.00 (okay, so I'm exaggerating a little) and decide that I can't afford anything but a silver bottle of perfume - the 10 ml bottle. But hey, it's from the Gap and the bottle is cool and it does smell great, so I get it.

I don't mean to bore you so I'll get on with the point. An hour or two at Value Village is rewarding in a different way. While the atmosphere lacks the "ambiance" of the mall, there is something nice about the fact that it generally is not crowded and you have no pushy sales people waiting on you. No need to say, "No thanks, I'm just looking, or um... no, it's really not me." You just stroll along, slowly moving your little cart while you scan the clothes. You find something you like, you put it in your cart, go to a changing room which you don't have to be directed into, and try it on. You like it, you get it. You don't like it, you simply put it back on the hanger and hang it up in the line of rejects - avoiding any questions.

Of course, the best thing about Value Village is the prices. You'll pay $2.00-3.00 on average for a nice sweater and a dollar something for a shirt. The best place to look, of course, is the retro section. However, the men's shirt section offers a good find, too. More than anything, though, the best part of it all is when you wear your new clothes and people say, "Wow, that's awesome! Where did you find that? I've been looking everywhere for that!" and you calmly say, "Oh, you won't find that in stores anywhere. I got it at Value Village!"

How can I explain the feeling? It's the thrill of the hunt - some innate desire to seek and find something no one else has - or is likely to have, and to be able to say you paid next to nothing for it. Now that to me is beautiful!

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