When I was a little girl, my mother took me thrift store shopping constantly. We dug through racks of dresses, tops and bottoms together, brand new designer pieces mixed in with falling apart cast-offs. For a glorious six years or so, I was too young to recognize the status difference between shopping at Goodwill, and shopping at GapKids. Many times, Mom would "upcycle" our new finds, courtesy of puff paint or tie dye (this was the '80s, after all).
But as I got older, and the girl cliques at my school drew harder lines between socio-economic levels, I quickly got the idea that it wasn't "cool" to shop at Goodwill. I begged my mother to take me to Limited Too instead, where I could shop for clothes that were up to par with my peers. In short, I asked her to buy me clothes that would make me look like everybody else.
I'm not sure when everything came full circle, but somewhere around my early 20s, I fell back in love with the venerable thrift store. My local Buffalo Exchange is the first place I hit up when I go shopping, and as I type this post, I'm wearing a 100% thrifted outfit. I am grateful to Mom for teaching me all of her tricks as a kid, and have become a regular reader of thrift-happy blogs. One of my favorites is The Year of Living Thriftily, written by vintage stylist Sarah Dean. For one year, Sarah (a mother herself) pledged to wear - aside from knickers - no new clothing, and photographed herself in her fabulous thrifted finds.
Since thrifted clothing is the greenest there is, why not try introducing it to your child, niece or nephew? Here are 5 ways to raise a thrift store-loving kind:
1. Make it an outing
Here in Austin, Buffalo Exchange is conveniently located to one of the most fun kid destinations in town: Toy Joy. Pair your own thrift store shopping date with another fun activity, whether it's perusing toys, visiting a nearby park, or sharing an edible treat together.
2. Take them during Halloween
Did you know Goodwill carries some of the most ridiculously cool costumes anywhere? That's because once used, few people hang onto their Halloween costume. You and your child can find a costume for pennies there, and there's an excellent chance you'll have an even better selection than a regular shop. Halloween too far away? No problem! A dress-up trunk is multi-seasonal, and stocking it provides another fun excuse to go costume hunting.
3. Go beyond the beaten path
As many a thrift lover knows, the best vintage finds are always in Nowheresville. Why? Because all the good stuff isn't picked over. So if you happen to be on a road trip, scout out an obscure Goodwill in advance. This is how I personally have found some of my favorite items, and you'll show your kid that awesome threads don't always have to grace the racks of shopping malls or boutiques. 4. Ask them to be your stylist One of the coolest things my mom did was ask me my opinion on which shoes/earrings/etc. she should wear with that day's work outfit. Whether she took my advice or not ("you should DEFINITELY borrow my Rainbow Brite fanny pack"), it was nice to feel important. Consult your daughter (or son, if they're into it), and make it a point to work in the thrifted aspect of the items. "I found two pairs of vintage earrings at Thrift City last weekend. Which go better with this outfit?" 5. Turn thrifted items into craft activities. Have you noticed how trendy upcycled jewelry is these days? Follow the lead of green accessory designers, and buy old charm bracelets, funky silver chains, brooches, etc. for the sole purpose of creating new jewelry with your child. With a pair of needle nose pliers, and a few extra jewelry parts - clasps, earrings hooks, and the like - on-hand, you two can fashion your own unique pieces to wear or sell. Or you can do like my mom, and take that resale t-shirt up to the next level...with a little puff paint.