de magasin d'epargne: the thrift store

saturday special 
notes from maggie's farm

I think I may have mentioned before just how much I love antiquing.  If I haven't, I do.  In fact I'm sure you've noticed a few 'finds' in pictures all over this weblog.

My friend Susie, a dealer of beautiful antiques, will agree, however, that I am cheap.  I mean I know the value of these things.  I've been doing this for a year or two (like about 40 years, if you count the years I spent tagging along with my mother), so the prices come as no surprise to me. And these little treasures are worth every penny.  It's just that I will likely always have that salad-days-single-mom-student mindset, even if those days have passed (mostly)--if you really want something beautiful, and it's out of your range, get the chipped or worn or cracked version, and turn that side to the wall.  No one'll be the wiser and you will, indeed, have something beautiful.

No, they don't match.  But the seals are in perfect shape, and
they're FRENCH, forevermore!  
And that's the way I am.  I am like the Olympian crossing the finish line when I find a good thing at a great price.
Now, please don't come by the house and start turning things around to find the flaws, especially the homekeeper herself.  You will invariably find one (or a dozen).  But It'll be the most decorative chip you've ever seen,  and it will have been obtained at less than half the non-flawed price.
Naturally, a thrift store, well that's a great place for me.  Because you have to really dig to find a jewel at a thrift store. And it's all just a little cheaper.  Less expensive, that is. I think of the thrift store as the country cousin of the more urbane antique store.  So, no surprise that I should find myself, early Saturday morning, waiting at the door for the the local thrift store to open.

"I spend a great deal of time thinking about those people,
imagining the previous owners, as I scavenge through their leftovers.
Now, remember, I live in a small town, Burnet, outside of a big city, Austin. And, really, I live outside of that small town.  I live in the proverbial sticks.  Our small town doesn't have a lot, but we are filthy rich in Mexican restaurants and antique stores.  And I am a regular at both.  In fact, before we found our church home, the only friends I had in town were shopkeepers and busboys.
In my experience, it's not all that easy to fit in in a small town, unless you've lived there a long time.  Could be the hipster glasses I sport, the Chuck Taylor's, that I insist on eating with chopsticks, even though there are plenty of forks to be had, at that one Thai restaurant (that used to be inside the Shell station before they built that wall),  I'm learning French, when clearly, Spanish is the most common second language in these parts and the only person that speaks French is my French instructor, there was that time when I nearly shut down the entire grocery store when I asked for prosciutto, I play opera that blares from my car like I'm trying to MUZAK the entire town square, We load hay and feed into a convertible instead of a truck (the most popular in town of which is the size of a small home).  I know it.  You don't have to say it.  I'm a little eccentric.  I'm that kind of odd that a big city absorbs.  Not so much in a small town.  But lately, I've been overjoyed to find friends that chuckle at, and love me, just as I am.  Thank you my friends!
We have a fancy schmancy resale shop that has beautiful clothes for those who are approximately half my size.  A 'charity store' up the road that's really just someone's cover for collecting free cr#p, then littering the entire parking lot with it in such a way as to be an eyesore from just about any direction you enter that town.  The nicest lady that owns a lovely gift shop on the square.  And several great antique stores in the town, proper.

"I'm learning French, when clearly, Spanish is the most common second language
 in these parts and the only person that speaks French is my French instructor..."
We have one really nice library, and that one really nice library has a thrift store. No musty, dusty thrift store smell, everything clean and laundered and pressed. Lovely volunteers to assist shoppers with questions, and allow others, like me, to roam in quiet contemplation.  It's a fun way to start the weekend, scavenging through the discards of unknown people's lives.  The things they consider not even valuable enough to sell, or perhaps the things they believe to be more valuable than they are--'Just can't throw that away, I'll give it to charity'.  I spend a great deal of time thinking about those people, imagining the previous owners, as I scavenge through their leftovers.

I have a system.  I hit the kitchenware first.  I look for anything old.  Here, chipped, cracked or rusted will not do.  I'm going to use these things, after a good washing.  And I always find really cool stuff.  Lots of treasures go in the cart. Gold mine today!

"Lots of treasures go in the cart.  Gold mine today! "
Next, 'home decorating'.  A plethora of woodgrain-like laminate here.  Moire taffeta drapes.  Lots of mauve and dusty blue.  Hearts and ducks.  Keep moving. Home office--never know when you might find some crazy Mad Men-like desk accessory.  Nothing today.  Moving along.  Underpinnings.  No.  Just no.  I draw the line at second-hand underpinnings.  Shoes?  Well.....okay, no.  Chotzkes. Nothing I need.  I have enough.  Ceramic teddy bears.  No.

Then there's the clothes.  This store is mostly clothes.  I check every rack.  No to polyester.  No to elastic waistbands. Well, maybe?  No.  No to rhinestones.  No to animal print (enough already with the animal print!)  Dresses?  It looks like my friend, Lisa, has already been here.  Nothing good left.  Several beautifully starched blouses, so I go through them quickly by doing what I do anywhere; slip my right arm in.  No need to look further if that right arm is tight.  So, no.  I have the upper arms of a sumo wrestler. I hit the menswear.  Where are all these tiny people hiding in Burnet?  No. no. no.  No clothes.  I don't know who I was kidding, anyway.  I'm so picky about clothes.

"Here, chipped, cracked or rusted will not do. I'm going to use these things ..."
Books?  No vintage books.  Moving on.  Purses?  The ladies of Burnet love a nice purse.  But, as I mentioned, I'm a tightwad, and I don't intend to spend over ten dollars on any one item, so no to the Lovely Ladies' Purses of Burnet. But, look! What are these doing over here?  The top shelf, above the purses and far removed from the book section, sports a handful of well-worn classic books, all vintage.  Into the basket go two incredible finds. (!!!!!)  I pass by the jewelry on my way to the checkout, but I'm no longer in the mood.  The thrifting muse has left the building.  I'm distracted by my basketful of treasures.  I'm kind of stooped over them, hoarding my goodies.  I'm making my escape before anyone discovers the steals I've managed to uncover, and tries to snag them.  I'd hate to take a little Granny down over my baling wire canning jars.  (Back off, Granny!)

Here is the sum total of what 23 dollars plus change will getcha on a Saturday morning at the Burnet Library Thrift Store.

Who knew I could pull together a French theme from
my foray through the 
 Library Thrift Store!?
From Top, a Pampered Chef bread tube, new, in all original packaging, retail: $23.  My price? $4. !!
Middle: Gigantic wooden bread basket.  $6. !!!, French Baling Wire Canning Jars, total--less than $4 for all 3.  !!!!  
Bottom: Two French Grammar books--$2, each.  !!!!!  
And under it all, a hand-pieced quilted sham, in the colors of the French flag (and our's too!), no less, $4.  !!!!!!  

It was the best morning of thrifting ever!  That is, until the next morning of thrifting, probably.  Well, it was an EXCELLENT day of thrifting, no doubt!

Dear Elizabeth Snay of Levittown, New Jersey,   
How in the world did your little French book wind up in the Burnet Library Thrift Store?
Best Regards, 
Margaret Christine

Now, more about this little baby.  This is really something.  It's really something because, this, this little book, with the little nameplate on the inside cover, this is inspiration, my friend!  This just became my next writing project.  I'll keep you posted on that.  
I'm so excited!


  1. You never cease to amaze me! I love love love my thriftland. So trying not to covet those canning jars. I absolutely "get" your Saturday morning.

  2. A thrifting kindred spirit! Thank you, as always, for your kind words--Margaret Christine


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