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Tuesday
Apr232013

Thrifty anchors away in New England! 

Today started off with another epic round of contientntal breakfast vs snooze button.

DING-DING!

These battles are nearly always won by snooze button--and today, continental breakfast didn't even stand a chance. 

In the car, I head toward South Portland, where I'm told there's an epic Goodwill awaiting me. Inside, it seems sort of packed for a Tuesday morning. The manager on duty, Topher, tells me this is a pretty typical showing for Tuesdays. 

There's a guy with earbuds in, pushing a full cart of stuff. I overhear someone asking someone else how their Earth Day was yesterday. And finally-- in true New England fashion, I overhear the classic line, "How's ya mutha?"

I have to smile-- even in thrift stores I'm getting a full New England experience. I half expect a parade of notable Mainers like Stephen King and Olympia Snowe to brush past me. Speaking of which, a little bird tells me that the latter donates lots of size 2 dress suits to the Goodwill on the North side of town. 

I find a "Honey Badger doesn't care" t-shirt that simply must come home with me. I think I know of someone who might like to make it his own.

I stop to chat with Elaine, who tells me she became a thrift shopper after her house burned down in 2007. "I had to replace everything," she says. " You get such good buys!"

Not only is she a wise shopper-- she's an inventive one too. She tells me she recently got a wine rack here, using it instead as a towel rack in her bathroom, which takes up much less room than her old bulky one. "A lot of things I get inventive with," she says.

What a smart cookie! 

Back in HaRVey2, I take a bite of my day-old whoopie pie that I grabbed back in Lebanon, NH and hit the road again toward Massachusetts. 

I have an EZPass in my car at home, so having to stop and pay tolls at each stop on this trip has been an eye opener.  I feel like I'm stopping and paying a toll to someone just about every two feet up here. 

I set my sights on Salem, Massachusetts-- mostly because I've heard of it and I'm curious to see if there's any stores there. After a bite of lunch, I find Llifebridge Thrift Shop. Inside I meet the manager Patrice, who gives me a little history of the place, whose profits provide meals for the community and emergency shelter and housing for the area's homeless.

I'm not browsing long before I overhear hear the booming voice of Michael, who is making note of the swimsuits currently being put out by a volunteer for display. He says he has two daughters and says he doesn't even try to pretend to know anything about their fashion choices. 

He says he shops thrift stores frequently and likes being able to get nice stuff for low prices. As an avid biker, he likes to check in to see if there's any equipment for sale. 

He says he runs a cleaning service, and often his customers will give him things they no longer want, and if he doesn't want them, he donates them on to places like this.  "The circle is empowering," he says of the environmental impact of thrifting. "Somebody might really need or have to have that."

When I tell him about the project, he gets excited-- which gets me excited. Each time I see people's eyes light up about what I'm doing, it gives me a little fuel to keep going on this project that just started with a daydream on my couch.  

I love that he recognizes the same things I see in these places. "It's a great subculture of America," he says.

Couldn't have said it better myself!

In the housewares, I spy a clam steamer on the ground-- complete with lower portion that has a spigot on it for the clam juice. You know you're in a New England thrift store if....

Then just as I'm getting ready to leave, I notice a funny looking object in the front window nestled between a set of patio furniture.

I move in for closer inspection.

IT'S A FREAKING ANCHOR! A HUUUUUGE ANCHOR! 

The manager tells me it's probably around 7ft. high. All she knows about it is that it's from a schooner and it was brought in a few weeks ago. The donor said it served as decor in his front yard for 40 years. He dug it up and brought it down and donate. 

Want it?

Around $500, a trip to Massachusetts, and a strong back and it can be yours, matey! In fact, I have already heard from a friend who wants to buy it! 

Still in shock from my unique maritime discovery, I set my sights on the Goodwill in South Boston.

Navigating the streets of Boston is so nerve-racking-- I can't even imaging trying to do this in an RV.  

I arrive at the location on West Broadway and meet James, who tells me about a runner for the Goodwill marathon team last week that made national news, and another runner who escaped unscathed, but with a nail embedded in his shoe from the blast.

In a weird way, I feel sort of glad I was on this trip when this news happened, since day after day I was seeing the kindness of strangers instead of having to be fixated on the heartbreak of the events that day. And being able to come through Boston now makes it all the more moving, especially seeing all the Boston Strong messages on the local busses as I drive around.

At the store waiting for me as well is a blogger named Melissa, who runs a site dedicated to all things thrifty and environmental.

SWEET! I get a thrifting buddy this stop! 

We browse together for nearly two hours, exchanging stories and figuring out that we even have some mutual friends

I stumble onto two tees I can't live without-- one is a vintage tee from the Boston Globe's advertising campaign that reads, "The Globe's Here!" and another that one features a drawing of a streaker with his naughty bits pixelated. 

I had a FANTASTIC day today, made especially awesome by some amazing friends who pulled some strings and got me a room at a fancy hotel downtown on the super duper cheap-- complete with a bottle of complimentary wine. 

Never was a bottle of wine so wanted needed.  The closer I get to home, the more I just want to get in the car, punch the gas and pull up to my house so I can sleep in my own bed again.

But I'm on a mission here, and it's not quite over.

So I leave you tonight in a room on the 24th floor with a view of the Charles and MIT, sipping complimentary wine and dreaming of hitting my snooze button once again-- or probably three times. At least. 

Tomorrow, Rhode Island and Connecticut!

 

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