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Get your All Thrifty On!

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Sponsored in part by Goodwill® Industries International 


Thrifting in the southern pines!

I started off the morning packing up from my hotel just north of Charlotte, headed for my first stop about 45 minutes away at a Goodwill just south of downtown. It seems my iPod seems to know I'm driving south with all the Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash coming up on shuffle over the last few days. I should drive south more often!

Oddly enough, the first woman I met as I walked into the store was a woman who lived in the town where I had stayed the night, who says she makes the 45 minute drive twice a week just so she can thrift at this particular store.

I took that as a very good sign.  

Her name was Debbie and she was here for senior discount day, though I wouldn't have guessed it.  Her cart was already brimming with clothes since she'd been here since they opened. She says she loves coming here because the store is bright and the donations are better than the one that's closer to her home. She proudly showed me a white Lily Pulitzer top, her favorite find of the day so far. We chat for a while as she patiently waits around for the carts of fresh items to come out. That's when she goes into action. She's a blur of colors flipping through the hangars with other customers to get the fresh pickins, and comes away each time with a few items to put in her basket for further inspection. Once she has a chance to look closer back at her cart, she decides what to keep and what to put back. 

As I started to look around I noticed this store has more collared men's polos than t-shirts. Like--lots more. Oh, these southern gents! And here I thought this would be an easy place to find the heerwine t-shirt I've long been hunting for! Man, I love my Cheerwine. The quest must continue.

Then I ran into Sandra, who was wearing the most fabuloius feather earrings I've ever seen (she made them!) and already clutching a cute purse she'd found. She was here on her lunch break from work to look for vintage stuff- she loves dresses and funky scarves.  She says she's a recent transplant here from New York, where she says the vintage selection is amazing (I hope to find out here soon!), but she loves coming on her lunch break to relax.  

This Goodwill sells bread, too! I love when thrift stores sell food staples.

A quick lunch and HaRVey and I head south again, crossing into South Carolina and making a quick impromptu stop in Columbia, where I met Teresa. She recently opened a thrift store there called St. Paws.  She said she'd noticed animal rescue groups were stuggling for funding during the recession and she wanted to open a thrift shop that could generate proceeds for all area rescues through an application process rather than supporting only one single group. Since her January 2 opening, the store has already made three donations to local animal groups! How cool is that?

Plus, they had some wonderfully southern dresses like this blue one that just screams debutante!  I love it!

So tonight I'm chillin' in Charleston, trying to kick this ear infection and getting ready for tomorrow's Charleston thrifting adventures!   



The Riches of Richmond-- and an unwanted trip to the doctor.

I woke up this morning SO EXCITED to see some Richmond thrift stores! Unfortunately, I also woke up with a stabbing pain in my ear.  It seems I picked up an unexpected passenger when I left on this trip-- more on that later.

First stop was of the day was Diversity Thrift, which is a glorious rainbow of a building right off the interstate that screams happiness.  I couldn't WAIT to go there.  Ever since I drove by it two years ago, it's been on my must-hit list.  It's run by the Gay Community Center of Richmond and the profits support the center as well as providing the ability for them to make monetary donations for a number of other non-profits in the area with an array of diverse missions, including animal shelters and low-income health care.  It struck me as interesting that this was the first time I'd seen a thrift store for an LGBT organization, and in of all places-- Richmond.  I spoke with Bill Harrison, the Center's executive director, who said Richmond's is a very accepting city, and the store is just one example of that.  It's gained a lot of popularity over the 11 years it's been in operation and Harrison says it's donation base is as diverse as the shoppers that go there.  

Looking around, it's easy to see why.  Mid-century Danish teak day bed frame for $60 anyone? HELLO! If only I had a truck. Right around the corner was an amazing armoire estimated to have been hand carved with biblical figures sometime around the year 1740.  And it's for sale! SOMEONE DONATED THAT!  It looks like it belongs in a museum! And right next to THAT was a tanning bed. Right there-- now THAT'S DIVERSITY!  

With time running short and the throbbing pain in my ear getting worse, I decided to just bite the bullet and find an urgent care center. My usual pattern of ignoring ailments to make them go away just wasn't working.  

I found a Minute Clinic and waited a while to finally get in for a visit with Wanalee, a lovely nurse practicioner whose gasp and look of horror after peeking in my ear was all it took to confirm what I already knew-- ear infection. She lined me up with antibiotics and some ear drops as we chatted about thrift stores. She says she likes to thrift shop for her baby's clothes. If you're reading this Wanalee-- thanks again! Thrift on, girlfriend!  

A quick lunch and it was time for HaRVey 2 to make a bee-line to the Goodwill Outlet. I met Derby and Laura, their interactive media manager and Laura and I walked around together to check out the day's offerings. I love outlets for so many reasons-- the randomness, the digging, the people.  This particular outlet has a refurbished computer section in the back where techs take donated computers and accessories that are still useful and wipe them to make them ready for new owners again. And-- uh-- hello fellow Mac users. They had A TON!  Want a Mac monitor for $20? Yeah you do. And now you know where to go to find one!  

But most of the folks in there today weren't looking to get computers-- the hot item here is shoes, shoes and more shoes!  I chatted with a few smiling gentlemen who didn't want to be photographed, but they were eager to show me their lineup of filled carts neatly pushed out of the way against a wall-- all filled with shoes.  And when I told them what I was doing and that I've been to outlets in lots of cities, they mostly just wanted to know where they were so they could get more shoes.  

Right about then some fresh bins rolled out and it was go time. The customers surrounded the helpless carts until it was time to dig in. I've never in my life witnessed shoes sell so fast! It's a sight to behold.  

Stuff at outlets go so fast you don't have time to even blink.  I saw a cool Denver Nuggets hat that I wanted to photograph with my big camera and with my cell phone. By the time I took the photo with my big camera and turned my head to reach for my cell phone, someone had already come by and put it in their cart.  Outlets are like greased thrift lightning! Strike fast, my friends!

With a long road ahead to Charlotte and having wasted more of my day than I wanted to for this stupid ear, I had to put on my trucker face and point take my lucky dashboard dog buddha southwest.  

Although four hours of driving is soooooo much easier in the Prius than the RV. Did I mention I spent all of $13 for gas today?  Yeah. 

So I leave you tonight with a sweet song from Willie that I played more than once between Richmond and Durham.  He hit just the right notes to keep my hurting ears happy and my eyes on the road. And I have a feeling he's a pretty thrifty guy.   





.....and off we go again! EAST COAST!

It's been nearly two years since the epic 2011 thrifting journey out West that got the ball rolling on this project, and today marks the first day of the much-awaited phase two-- the East Coast! Watch out America, I'm going through your closets once again!  

I left DC today a little after noon with Richmond as the first stop on my thrifty radar. But it wouldn't be a grand DC departure without some US Capitol photo action, so Ed rode along for the first few miles to shap this shot on the Mall as I left town.  Yeah, America! We are ALL THRIFTY STATES! (...and one thrifty ten-mile-square federal jurisdiction?)

Driving the rented Prius (lovingly dubbed HaRVey 2, despite it's non-RV status) this time rather than a lumbering RV is a huge, HUGE relief. And while not having my own private rolling bathroom available behind the driver's seat is saddening, I think the built-in bluetooth phone system and GPS will more than make up for any annoying roadside pitstops.  

Its been a whirlwind few days getting things put together for this three week jaunt through thrift, but I'm excited for what serendipity lies ahead.  And so much of this is serendipity--that's the part I love about it. And while you're probably reading this thinking I'm on a three week vacation, let me reassure you, this is WORK!  

Fun work-- but work nonetheless.  

That's why last night I was glad to see my good friend Amanda post the Kid President video on her Facebook page just when I was looking for a much-needed pep talk for the adventure ahead. With three weeks and around 4,000 miles in front of me, I love getting a gentle reminder about life's awesomeness. Yes, I believe this road DOES lead to awesome-- and thirfting is my Space Jam

 Thanks to Goodwill International's sponsorship, along with Balcon Enterprises who are making this whole thing possible! Thanks also go out to my awesome red-bearded hubby and creative partner in crime, Ed, who is willing to let me be a free spirit for a few weeks (again) and do double dog-walking duties back home for a while. Also a shout out to my boss Michael and my awesome co-workers who are covering for me while I'm away from my cubicle and hopefully following along on this blog between candy cupcake cheese coffee breaks.  

So I leave you tonight from my first bottom-dollar hotel in Richmond that luckily has free wifi and cable.  I mean-- it's Mad Men premiere night, I can't miss that! I may be on a thrifty mission but I'm not an animal! 

Tomorrow-- Diversity Thrift, Goodwill and a long afternoon drive to Charlotte!


Let's have a moment, shall we?

Thrift is having a moment right now, thanks to some thrifty beats (AHEM-- MACKLEMORE anyone?) and a blooming of fun little hashtags lately.  

Click here to read my latest blog post over on the site!  


Get Swept Up in Secondhand Politics! 

Check out my post over on the Goodwill blog today!

And happy inaugural weekend, everyone!