About Me and Thrift Shopping
A hike up Mount Vesuvius in a 99-cent, polyester wonder from the Salvation Army in Altoona, PA. Motorcycle boots courtesy of a little shop in Rome.
I grew up shopping in Salvation Armys in steel towns in Western Pennsylvania. As a younger kid, I went with my aunts or cousins to the other side of the river in Pittsburgh—there’s always an “other side of the river” in Pittsburgh. St. Vincent DePaul. Red, White, and Blue. Goodwill. I nagged until someone drove me to a thrift store and someone always caved.
Once I could drive I didn’t need to nag and I didn’t need permission. My parents bizarrely loved my thrift store finds—a maternity dress from the late 1970s; a rabbit fur coat: a floppy leghorn hat. My father is an antique hound, who built an enormous though un-curated collection. My mom had a penchant for leather pants and a bargain.
By senior year in high school, I would sneak off to Altoona—the “city” about an hour west of my college town and home to both a Goodwill and Salvation Army. I have lived and shopped in some of the world’s most glamorous cities—New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Rome. I’ve never had more fun or finds than I have had in Altoona.
And almost everyone who I love has gone there with me. My best friend of 20 years. My thrift-shopping sister Aidan. My brother and I still marvel at the day we found five pairs of Versace slacks in his size. He wore them forever. In the summer of 2015, my teenage niece and I went crazy on the $5 bag day. A sweatshirt from Confluence, PA’s Pumpkin Fest 2006. A black leather miniskirt. A lettermen’s sweater that wasn’t vintage but good enough to fool you for a bit.
I’ve thrift shopped more alone than with a companion. The thrift store is where I think and wonder and wander.
I write and teach about the meaning of clothing to humans, and I live it, too.