So, part of the deal with participating in The Compact is looking to thrift stores and other resale outlets when we need to purchase something BEFORE buying new. I’ve done OK about not buying new stuff, overall…for sure my discretionary spending is down, but I haven’t been that creative about looking in thrift stores for items I don’t think will be there. For example, I went ahead and bought a bucket at the Dollar Tree the other week partly because I did need something right away, but also because when the thought of getting it used crossed my mind, I truly dismissed it out of hand. Two things happened: one, my right away task ended up not happening until a couple of days later so I could have checked a few nearby thrift locations. And two, a conversation with Nathalie in the comments reminded me that thrift stores often DO carry random items like buckets, even though I tend to think of them as primarily selling clothing.
As I thought about it I realized that I pretty much only have ever gone to Goodwill when I go to a thrift store. But there are so many more options; now that I’m keeping my eyes peeled, I’m seeing them everywhere. The other thing that has held me back is a general concern that I’ll wander into a thrift store and since shopping used items is OK, I’ll go crazy and come home with all kinds of unneeded random stuff. So I just haven’t gone. However, if I want to be really effective at this Compact thing and make it a true way of life and not just something I’m sort of enduring for the year, I need to actually GO to thrift stores and I need to learn how to NOT BUY things when I don’t need them. Hence, two goals:
- Search out and visit new to me thrift stores in my city. This is basically all of them, so I’m going to check out some that have been highly recommended first and then work on more hole in the wall places that just seem to appear.
- ONLY shop from a list of needed or wanted items. My list has a few different categories which I’ll explain below, but they are:
- Home Projects
- Clothing (exluding undergarments and shoes)
My exceptions for the Compact are consumables, ebooks and items needed to complete home projects.With home projects, the idea isn’t that I’ll start something frivolous, but we have a list of ongoing updates and repairs that we want to make to our home and property — and supplies for those projects are fair game for new purchases. An extension of this is completing partially finished projects; if buying something will help that happen, then I am ok with that. BUT. Even as I type this, I know that some home project type things DO show up at thrift stores, particularly places like the Habitat ReStore. So. The home projects category is a look here first, but keep in mind our timeline, color scheme, etc. I can buy new in this category if I have to.
Similarly, household items may or may not eventually be bought new. For example, if I want a new casserole dish just because…it’s used or nothing. But I need a new shower curtain liner and I would never have thought to look for this at the thrift store, but Katy Wolk-Stanley at the Non-Consumer Advocate mentioned finding one new in the wrapper at her Goodwill, so it occurred to me that I really should be checking thrift stores first for almost everything. However, I’m not going to wait forever on things like a new shower curtain liner, so there is some wiggle room to buy new here, too.
Finally, the clothing and decor categories. These are not items I need. At all. Ever. Except maybe a graduation gown and I actually had my mom bring down the two gowns I already have from previous degrees, so hopefully I can make those work. Anytime I say I need a new piece of clothing is really me saying that I want a new piece of clothing. At some point I expect that I’ll actually wear out my clothing and need to replace it. But my long years as a trend follower and habitual shopper mean that my closet is really full.
Same thing with decor. Anything that might fall into the actual “need” area here really would then belong to the home projects category. This is on my mind because I would like a few more spring related decorations (suddenly I am a sort-of seasonal decorator). There is nothing close to a need here, and I am not even sure I should indulge this particular want. But maybe…it seems like an opportunity to upcycle something, which could be fun.
That’s my approach for shopping going forward. I’ll share my actual list (which of course will be constantly changing) at some point just to start out with some accountability and to use this blog to track my progress in becoming less and less of a consumer.