My Thrift Store Days, Part I

My Thrift Store Days, Part I

I kind of miss working at the thrift store. It was probably the most enjoyable job I’ve ever had.

When I quit my Real Adult Teaching Job to ‘be a writer’ – what a lark, huh? – I decided to get a regular part-time job. Meaning, something I could brainlessly do and easily leave at work when I punched out. Something with an actual time clock, too. Something that I could organize all my free time around. So I started working at Nameless Thrift Store. And found I really loved it. The stuff I dug through was insane and riveting and the people I worked with were lovely and amusing.

I was pregnant with Matilda while I worked there and one day, I pulled aside a Boppy pillow to buy, but seconds later, one of the guys working the donation door came over and chucked it in the trash.

“Hey! I was going to buy that!” I yelled.

“No, you’re not,” he said. “I saw the tweakers who donated it. You don’t want your baby anywhere near that shit.”

It boggled the mind the kinds of things people would drag all the way to the thrift store to get the tax receipt, when most of their stuff was no better than trash. Given the mental state of some of these people, you had to wonder how they managed to bag and box up their junk and actually make it to the store in one piece. They didn’t exactly look like the kind of people who saved their receipts for itemized deductions. Or even filed their taxes in the first place.

The next few posts will be excerpted from Secondhand Nation, a zine my sister and I once created, and will be devoted to our thrift store experiences (of course, my sister worked at Nameless Thrift Store! we do everything together!)

Next up: a list of things you never need to donate to a thrift store, in case you are brainless…


  • Carrie on May 22, 2012 Reply

    The sheer volume of crap produced in America is never more visible than at a thrift store. That was probably the 10th Boppy pillow donated that day already. Staff got pretty hardened toward gross things, but the constant influx of junk made it so we could be picky. It’s one thing to buy an anonymous item at a store, and go home and wash it. But another to meet the donator and see its sad, mean origin.

    One thing that gets me is people donating things that were nearly ‘used up.’ Stained underwear, for example. Nobody is in THAT dire need of underwear that they would want something like that. You’d go commando first. And what’s even more terrible is that some people don’t think about how awful it is to ‘give as charity’ something so gross. Bad enough you’d need that level of charity in the first place but then you’d go and say, ‘Here, these stained underpants are still good! Elastic still works! beggars can’t be choosers!’ It kinda makes you want to punch something.

  • Ela on May 22, 2012 Reply

    I’m all eyes for this. Needless to say, I’m dressed almost 100% by thrift stores, and donate whenever I can, so the tutoring would be welcome.

    Yes, all kinds of people in all kinds of conditions donate stuff. Many short stories to be written there. Maybe they were doing a karmic cleanse. But couldn’t the pillow simply have been washed?

Leave Reply