Thrifting. For some it’s an art; the thrill of the hunt, the promise of a real find. For some it’s a gift. They’re able to notice fabulous things sitting amidst the clutter of thrift store racks, things not visible to the untalented eye. For those on a budget, thrift shopping is often a necessity. For many these days, it’s a living. They arrive early and strip the place of anything that they think might have some remote value to some collector out there on eBay, from troll dolls and disco 8-tracks to actual antiques. They’ve made it harder and harder for the average shopper to score any treasures.
Old time thrifters often talk about the glory days before the internet and the emergence of overpriced clothing re-sell boutiques that snatch up the coolest thrift garb before anyone else gets a chance and then mark it up to near designer prices. That faded old Def Leppard shirt you donated to Goodwill is likely hanging from the rack of an über-trendy clothing shop with a price tag that reads something like this: “Retro - $35”. Recently, many thrift stores have gotten into the act as well, with roped-off collectible sections and high-priced “funky” racks. This is probably great for the various charities that benefit from the sale of these items, but frustrating for shoppers looking for cheap thrills. Regardless, hardcore thrifters carry on, realizing that items still sometimes slip through the cracks, unnoticed by mark-up vultures. In a way, it makes the discovery of cool stuff even more thrilling. There’s an addictive quality to the natural rush one feels when that impossible search ends in a brilliant thrift coup.
Regardless, hardcore thrifters carry on, realizing that items still sometimes slip through the cracks, unnoticed by mark-up vultures. In a way, it makes the discovery of cool stuff even more thrilling. There’s an addictive quality to the natural rush one feels when that impossible search ends in a brilliant thrift coup.
Making the rounds from store to store on a weekly, sometimes daily basis, they recognize faces but don’t speak. They exchange glares that say “what are you doing in MY territory” and jealously eyeball the contents of each other’s carts. They know every staff member of every thrift store in town, and they shamelessly befriend them in hopes of a discount. Frankly, I think it’s fantastic and fully admire their inventive viciousness. After all, these are the folks who come away with the gold.
I’ve been thrifting in this town for eons, and there have been times when I’ve come perilously close to joining the mad cult, but normally I prefer just casually looking around to see what random items turn up. I’ve come to know the local thrift stores and all their quirks. Seasoned thrifters know that each store has its own personality with high points and low points.
We are fortunate to have a killer thrift mecca located right here in Midtown Coeur d’Alene, with no less than six stores perfectly arranged all on the same small stretch of land. I recruited my friend M. to provide a needed female perspective, and we headed north on
Located across the street, the Women’s Center Thrift Store (
We head around the corner to the barn-like Humane Society Thrift Shop (
M. swears by Goodwill (
Obviously, St. Vincent De Paul (
The last stop on our agenda is the Hospice Thrift Shop ( 1823 N. 4th). M and I decided we’re a little scared of this place because the ladies who run the show here are notoriously cranky. Once I spent an hour here shopping, loading my cart with stuff. When I went to pay I was told that they don’t accept debit cards. It was like they’d never heard of the concept. Bewildered, I asked the clerk if I she would hold my items so I could run to the ATM and get cash and she told me no, and made me put everything back, which I did because her demeanor made me feel guilty for even causing the whole scenario. Sheesh. As far as merchandise, the crap-to-gold ratio is high, making this another place where you just want to skip the clothing department, and the book department, and the dish department, and every other department. They have some great overpriced, outdated technology – I don’t think these ladies realize how obsolete that Betamax is, as evidenced by the $40 price tag. The Hospice Thrift store is the kind of place where you might want to take granny when she’s got a jones for some crochet supplies. Maybe M. and I were just experiencing thrift burnout, but we both decided this old place needed a facelift.