Smart Solutions: Thrift store finds feel luxurious in fast-paced shopping cycle

By Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News
Thrift-store shopping is trendy again, as people look to score one-of-a-kind clothes and home goods at a discount.

In early August, when back-to-school supplies were making way for Halloween candy, I felt the usual confusion. Sometimes I think I missed the first day of school or forgot to celebrate a seasonal occasion because the merchandise seems to arrive earlier each year.

Shortly after a recent trip to Kroger where my daughter got some school supplies, there was barely anything left. In fact, I scored the last notebook of its kind in her desired color because the specialty aisles were filling up fast with Halloween treats.

Personally, I do not feel the need to buy or consume candy corn a month before my kid goes back to school. I also don’t feel tempted to stock up on her school supplies for the coming year in June or July when they hit the store shelves.

Before long, there will be Christmas ornaments among other holiday adornments before we ever get to Halloween and they will probably be picked over long before Thanksgiving. These tactics often make me check my calendar to see if I really did miss something major. It’s hard to keep any celebration straight without the next retail opportunity staring you in the face.

In addition to the premature seasonal goods, I also struggle with the art of self-checkout, which has become the new norm. While I understand it was meant to be more cost effective and convenient, I never seem to have much luck with the process. So, one day when I spotted a live cashier with no one standing in her line I thought it was a mirage. The procedure was fast and personable and it made me happy.

Another rather pleasant experience has been taking my daughter and her friends thrift shopping, which often encourages a leisurely pace. One day, as they searched for garments at a local Salvation Army store, I browsed a bit in the home decor section before taking a seat at a secondhand dining table to wait for them.

So many people stopped to talk to me as they took their time finding hidden gems among the donations. That day, my daughter was thrilled to buy three shirts for a total of $6.

Another time, at a Goodwill store, we saw three of my friend’s four daughters shopping for bargains. Once again, I went to the home goods section where the classics caught my eye. I found myself drawn to pieces made from wicker, metal, glass and wood. Since my house is already chock-full of stuff, I still try to be highly selective and stick to functional finds, such as baskets and trays.

I love the fact that thrift shopping has become a trend among teens because it teaches them lessons that range from recycling to helping others. They also get to take their time and stretch their budget.

Now, whenever I feel pressured by the fast pace of seasonal goods at grocery stores and other retailers, all I need to do is find a thrift store to help me slow down and savor the thrill of the hunt.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at