I can only speak from my experiences working at a big-box thrift store for a few months, years ago, but I’ll never forget baling thousands of pounds of clothing per hour, and despite putting in my best efforts, still being a slower worker than a man well past retirement age. So when I donate my depreciated clothing, I/they don’t care if it’s worn or damaged: they’ll bale everything except soiled materials and sell them overseas.
I don’t believe in the power of donating to companies to provide for my community. After throwing myriad items into the trash compactor, some better than what I own, and watching these kind-hearted gestures from you and me become destroyed for no other reason than because these items were old stock or didn’t sell, while I may still donate and buy from thrift stores, it’s with all altruistic façades removed. Sobriety is like that, too.
The day before I sobered up is one I’ll always remember, not so much sequentially, but more cerebrally than that. I was working at the thrift store at the time, directionless, unmotivated, blaming others for the problems I wasn’t addressing, and just squandering my life. It was a difficult job. When I wasn’t jumping into moldy trailers or being lambasted for working “slowly,” I was trash-compacting high-quality goods. Then… maybe a glimpse into something greater…
I used to go thrifting with my wallet ready to bleed money. I would scour through thrift stores, pawn shops, swap meets, flea markets, antique boutiques, and other second-hand resellers ready to buy anything weird or that which should be in any of my collections. I’m more reserved now. I even doubted if I should ever go back to any thrift stores, but it turns out, it’s easy to turn down that compulsive over-spending. How?
Thrift stores are wrought with morality and mortality. Every item was once someone’s misguided best intentions, loss of interest, or change in life situation. It’s no one’s fault. Handling donations one winter years back, I once accepted a woman’s donations and the story of her daughter outgrowing them, only to see some of those innocent objects destroyed in the trash compactor hours later. At least I gave her a sense of restoring her intended honor.
“What did that [overhead announcement] mean? It sounded cool!” “It meant [basically] in 30 minutes, all hands on deck[1,2].” Coming up on 5 years ago, I was just bumming around in life, and ended up working at a thrift store for the hell of it. While looking for new junk is my primary reason for going, I also like going to remind myself of the times I hopped into gnarly trailers full of donations to salvage rarities.
Thrifting is anthropological, curatable, functional, fanciful, and recalibrating. I can study an area based on what the average citizen donates. I collect many things. I occasionally need things and some things are just curious enough to own. Most important for me, if I’m stressed out, feeling anxious, or otherwise “not so self-assured,” walking through thrift stores reminds me to take it easy for a bit. There is no hurry exploring materialistic gardens of fascinating junk.
The fire destroyed nine businesses in the Federal Way, Washington complex, including one of the three Al’s Music, Video, and Games stores. It’s not clear if it was arson. “It’s just fortunate there was a space between the buildings.” Al’s is one of the remaining family businesses specializing in used media that haven’t been swept up by the ubiquity of online retail. Let’s cover what’s helping them stay relevant in this somber Thrifting Adventures episode.
We can still rent video tapes in 2017! In this episode of Thrifting Adventures, we’ll briefly cover the news that Rain City Video in Seattle will close on April 28th, consider cultural preservation versus technological evolution, and conclude with positivity. There are local options remaining that could inspire those abroad for watching obscure media, such as the Zatoichi television show, Spectreman on VHS, or anachronistically learning about Windows 95 featuring contemporary actors, without requiring piracy!