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Entries in vermont (2)

Sunday
Apr212013

A surprisingly active thrifty Sunday! 

This morning I woke up from the most rock solid sleep I've had in weeks, in a cozy guest bedroom of family friends in Vermont. Armed with their recommendations, we all three piled in HaRVey2 today bound for a grand circle of stores we hoped would be open. 

And guess what-- THEY ALL WERE! 

Just down the road from their home was Robert's Thrift Shop, in Bradford, VT. I'd surely have never found this place without their help since it's off the beaten path, around the corner and in a basement portion of a buliding off the main drag.  

The cashier leads me back to a TV room at the back of the store, where I find Robert himself, watching TV and doing crossoword puzzles. He tells me that he started the store by selling stuff from his own home to benefit the local annual fair, for which he was a board member. The store benefitted the Connecticut Valley Fair until recently, when the store switched to funding the Orange East Senior Center, which provides meal delieveries in the area.

He has lots of reasons he thinks folks should thrift shop more, but especially that it keeps things out of landfills. "A lot of products don't break down," he said. 

He also accepts food donations, which are given to needy customers for free. Today he has a box of cereal available. 

The store itself is a maze of stuff with a holiday room in back. You could certainly spend some time digging around here and it's certainly worth a look just for the experience of it. In the front room I spot old liquor bottles shaped like historial figures like Betsy Ross, proudly sewing her flag. There's also a porcelain bust of Clint Eastwood a la Dirty Harry and some cute emboidered kittens on dishtowels. If you know me, you know I can't pass up a cute dishtowel! 

Back in the car we take some winding roads toward Hanover, New Hampshire, home of Dartmouth College and therefore, a very necessary stop. The neighboring town of Lebanon, New Hampshire is where donations from the nearby college usually end up, so I poke into Listen Thrift Store to see what I can find. 

Inside I meet Ruby, the store's longtime manager who actually shopped here as a teenager herself. She's in back helping sort and accetp donations on what seems to be a really busy day-- especially for a Sunday!

The donations roll in at a steady pace as she tells me about the services the thrift store is able to provide to the community, as well as the food pantry the keep in back.

As it turns out, her daughter Angela is shopping out front, so I go introduce myself. She says she grew up in this thrift store since her mom worked here, and shopped here from an early age.

"As a kid it was a little embarrassing, but I also loved it," she said. She started volunteering alongside her mom at age 9, and is currently looking for things for her own 12-year-old daughter.  

The store is packed with people-- packed. And packed I spot a Betty White t-shirt hanging on a wall, which I can't even think about leaving without.

As I approach the checkout counter, I see a box of apples and peppers, with a giant FREE sign.  Also, there's a stand of bread products, including a loaf of french bread, a piece of pumpkin pie and a whoopie pie-- ALL FREE!  

Uh, yeah-- that whoopie pie came home with me. That's precious road food for tomorrow's drive to Portland, Maine!

Back in the car, we stop at a truck stop for lunch, then head to Concord, New Hampshire to take a gander at the Goodwill there. There's all sorts of new(!) gardening equipment and decorations ready for spring blooms.

I'm starting to see a LOT of Boston Red Sox stuff--t-shirts, glasses, hats-- so I know I'm getting closer and closer to the Bay State. Just as I stop to chat with some folks I spot a three-point hat for sale off in the distance-- oh, so New England.

It's near the end of the day, but there's a steady stream of folks browsing the aisles. 

It was a super productive day, so we ate dinner at a Chinese buffet nearby and started the two hour drive home again.

Three stores, four hours behind the wheel, two nights in the same bed and one very tired girl.

Tomorrow-- a drive to PORTLAND and hopefully a little lob-stah!  

Friday
Apr192013

Troy-- The best place to be a thrifty size 8!

Today I woke up in Troy, NY and headed to the nearby Goodwill, which just had a grand re-opening yesterday. I'm partly sad that I missed it, but sort of glad, too since the crowd probably would've given me sensory overload.  

Little do I know I'm about to go into sensory overload anyway.

I grab a cart to put my stuff in and start to browse. I see three new Ann Taylor blazers in a row-- same size. That's strange.

What are the odds?

Then I look a little further-- even more of the same exact blazer.

All new.

All the same size.

Huh.

After about 5 minutes of this, I realize this place is loaded-- no joke-- loaded with donated samples from Ann Taylor, which were almost exclusively size 8 dresses, formals, suits, jackets, tops and slacks.  Never in my life have seen anything like this-- literally hundreds of brand new gorgeous size 8 stuff--or have I ever been so mad that I'm not a size 8, nor can I even remember ever having been a size 8. 

But part of me is glad that there are no double digit samples to be found here, since I'd probably have left at least $300 lighter and be forced to camp in the car the rest of the trip.  

Financial roadtrip crisis averted. 

But I didn't leave empty handed.  What, you think I'd come into this sort of thrifty wonderland and not find a single thing?  

I managed to find one cute, generously-cut size medium Ann Taylor sample top in my favorite shade of mustard yellow that fit. I also found some gold glitter ballet flats, which I think will make this trip feel a little more Wizard of Oz-zy.  

Back in houswares, I stop to chat with Ana, who is pushing a cart full of goodies while shopping with her two-year-old son Thaygo. He's got a tight grip on an Avengers toy he found. She had to drop something off for her husband who works nearby and when she saw the grand opening sign, she had to stop in for a look.

She's been a thrifter for a long while tough. "My friends don't come here. They think it's junk, but it's not, it's gold!" she says, her eyes smiling.

I check out and get back into HaRVey2, pointing him toward Burlington. But first, a lunch stop in Saratoga Springs!  

I sit down at Bailey's Cafe for a salad thats approximately the size of my head. It's been a long roadtrip and I sense I need to eat something that had dirt on it at some point in its life. But looking across the street I see a Ben & Jerry's. I realize I'm about to enter Vermont-- land of cheese, ice cream and maple syrup.

This is going to be trouble.

After lunch I head to Second Hand Rose Thrift Shop in Schuylerville, New York, which sits right along the upper Hudson and the Lake Champlain Canal.

I walk in and meet Charlotte, who manages the store. Even at age 86, she's the oldest of the seven volunteers here, working five days a week, five hours a day. The store's been here for 12 years and donates to the local fire, rescue and ambulance squads, as well as funding small scholarships for local high schoolers. Last year the stuff they sold in this store provided them with enough revenue to donate $12,000 back into this little community.

She says they've had everything come through the store. "From thimbles and needles to horse collars and skis," she said.  "It's amazing what people donate." She's a bit shy and didn't care to be photographed, but the store itself was a maze of rooms and stuff lining every square inch of floor, shelf, and wall. They even have a big Christmas room, which she says is a popular attraction during the holidays. 

I'm looking around and pretty close to closing time, so I try to get as many photos and angles as possible before it's time to lock up for the night. Back in HaRVey2, I set my sights on Vermont. 

The roads are small and slow, but I didn't mind at all. With the clouds and rain finally giving way to a warm glow of the impending sunset, I find myself navigating roads alongside lakes with gray layers of the Adirondacks off to my left, hazy in the late day sun.

At one point I feel a rush of joy just looking around me while I drive--I start to think how happy I am-- that this project is nearing completion, that this crazy idea has actually happened, that it's taken me to such gorgeous places and allowed me to meet such amazing people along the way. I realize this is one of those drives that will stick with me for the rest of my life. It's just so gorgeous.

Just as I'm thinking this, I realize I'm stuck behind a septic truck who is going terribly slow-- and I don't even care. It's giving me more time to admire this place and be present for a minute. A rare occurance on a lightning-fast roadtrip like this one.

A map of the project's progress since 2010.It's been a tough week, America.

I've been following the news. 

But as usual, there are always beautiful things like a sunset drive on a beautiful road and a great conversation with a totally random stranger to remind us that for all the crazy that goes on around us, there's an equal amount of awesome to behold.

I leave you tonight just outside of Burlington, Vermont where it's raining a nice soft rain tonight. I'll take a look at a few stores tomorrow in this area tomorrow, and if time allows, make a quick tour of the Ben & Jerry's Factory in Waterbury as a cheap Saturday night treat for my road-weary bones. 

Total miles driven since DC: 2,874.  

Total miles for the project since 2010 (roughly): 12,374