In honor of my entry into the Midwest, I decided to wear one of my favorite t-shirts today. MIDWEST!!
Sundays are notoriously bad days for thrifting on these trips-- many shops are closed, and even if they aren't, it's often hard to get proper permission to photograph in them. Without any plans for the day, I'd already come to terms with the fact that it was probably going to be a day photographing the fronts of closed stores.
Craving some actual food-- with you know, nutrients and stuff-- I called my local friend Brooke, who works at the local paper here. She recommended we meet for a bite at a place called the Explorer's Club, a fitting place to eat given my gypsy-like existence these days.
My hungry eyes were greeted with a specials board at the front door that featured spaghetti and meatball omlettes and raspberry mint pancakes. DANG! I knew Brooke wouldn't lead a hungry girl wrong!
After filling our bellies and topping off with coffee, I climbed back into HaRVey2 and typed in my first thrift store of the day into the GPS. Al-Jazeera Thrift Store was a name that had popped up on my Google search for Columbus thrift a few days ago, and I was curious to see what it was all about. I figured it would be closed, but to my delight as I pulled up, the lights were on and the door was open!
I went inside and met Abdisadiq, an American man of Somali ancestry who says he started this store with his wife Dega about two years ago. He says the store was her idea, but he says he runs the business side of things. The racks are lined with long skirts and full length dresses and the window display mannequin is dressed in layers of beautiful green floral and a head scarf. Obviously this is a very unique place.
He shows me just how unique as we look around the store. Hijabs, abayas, full length coats, sarees, african print dresses with gorgous embroidery and lots of scarves hang for sale alongside more everyday items like t-shirts, jeans and purses.
After a minute or two a few customers come in and I meet Sandra and MaryAnn. MaryAnn says she is Christian, and she came in here a while ago with her daughter from New Jersey, who is Muslim. She says since her daughter is so tall, she has a hard time finding dresses that are full-length for her, but she was able to find a whole pile of things that worked perfectly for her here.
MaryAnn has come back today looking for a dress. She needs something extra lovely for a Nigerian wedding she's attending next Saturday, and a black and gold dress has caught her eye. Apparently there are several outfit changes necessary for the ceremony, so she's glad to find something so affordable.
Abdisadiq rings up her purchase with a smile and says he remembers her daughter's visit. He says he's had people come into the shop from all over-- Atlanta, Virginia-- a store like this is a rare place. His wife Dega tells me on the phone that it's the only Islamic thrift store around. It's certainly the only one I've ever seen!
Abdisadiq and his wife keep this store open seven days a week in addition to him working a job at a nearby hotel as well. With MaryAnn as a great example, he says people of all faiths shop here, as modest dress is not limited to a single religion. He likes being able to serve a specific community's needs, a community that he says is quite sizable here. He proudly talks about how he's been able to give free items to people in need, and members of the refugee community.
He is so warm and generous and I'm so grateful that his store was open today. I doubt I'll see a store like that again. As I take a few last photos, he begs me to take something and I try hard convince him I shouldn't, but he is insistent that I must-- out of respect.
How do you say no to that?
I find a long green floral skirt and he puts it in a bag for me on my way out. I'll definitely think of this unique place and his generous spirit every time I wear it.
Next stop is Otterbein University, where the interwebs tell me there's a thrift store on campus. I know it's closed today, but I want to see it anyway. But just a few blocks past Al-Jazeera Thrift Store, I see Ohio Thrift Store, a local chain here, in a huge strip mall to my right. I snap a few photos from the parking lot.
Otterbein Thrift Store is situated in an old house and is right across from campus, where students are enjoying the sunshine in the grass nearby. I pull up to make a few quick photos of the store. And it occurs to me-- why dont' more colleges and universities have thrift stores on campus like this? I mean, really! I can remember moving in and out of the dorms and seeing the piles and piles of hardly used furniture and stuff just piled by dumpsters that was clearly still in fine condition.
Way to go, Otterbein! Plus, the money they raise goes towards scholarships!
The rest of the day was just spent driving north, entering Michigan and doing laundry-- finally. And me being the smart girl that I am, I put all my quarters into the dryer that was-- you guessed it-- out of order. Awesome.
Tomorrow-- Goodwill in Canton, and hopefully a thift store I'm wanting to visit in Berkley.
Happy Sunday, folks! And goodnight!