A Good Little Shopper


If you think this post is going to be about how I scour the racks at Nordstrom’s for the best deals of the season, it’s not. If you think it’s about how I maximize double coupons at the grocery store, I don’t.

What it is about is how I can find the deals for myself and everyone else at the thrift stores.

I live in the Bay Area, so we might have more thrift stores than you do. Every town seems to have at least one. Some have a half dozen. They are set up to fund-raise for various causes – animals, cancer patients, counseling services, Junior League projects, foster kids, etc.  At any rate, they get their stuff for free through donation drop-offs. So that means when they get too much stuff, they simply mark it down.

Last week my local thrift shop was getting ready for its big Christmas sale on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. They had a half-off sale for three days right before that.  They sent out an email. I was there.

Then the Junior League shop two towns over had a half-off sale on Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday. They sent out an email. I was there.

I forgot all about Cyber Monday because I was too busy sorting out all the goodies.  Most of it is going for donations.

My entryway looks like a loading dock. I have the baseball caps for El Salvador (my bilingual neighbor goes there with a dentist to fix everyone’s teeth for free). They lure the patients by giving them free clothing.

Another pile is for the homeless people. I have asked friends, family and even my chorus to step up and give something – socks, hats, jackets, toothbrushes, towels, whatever.

The third pile is for the teachers – surplus Christmas bears from my closed shop, and pioneer clothing as a tax write-off for my business. The 4th bag is Christmas aprons for the lunch ladies at the senior center.

Yes, it is a bit unruly. It’s the 4th of December, so I have some time to clear it out by the holidays. I meant to have it done by Thanksgiving, but it didn’t work out that way. The homeless thing just popped onto my radar last week.

This is when I can use my OCD for good. How else would I have found twenty baseball caps scattered around that half-off thrift shop? How else would I have sorted through closets, sock drawers, and inventory bins to find all of this stuff for people without houses?

Others go shopping at the mall to buy gifts for those they love. I like to shop for those that I don’t know and have never met (in addition to my family).

My gal party, where eight of us usually exchange gifts, has been changed to a gal party where we bring donations for the homeless. It’s easy, it’s relatively inexpensive, and it makes us feel good.

It was 30 degrees outside on Black Friday. I rode bikes with my kids in the damp weather, and my nose dripped all day. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live outside, in a tent or under an overpass, even if it is a mild California winter. All of the homeless people have issues, but they are still people, and they deserve to be warm.

The name of the group that contacted me for sweater donations is Believe Holy Spirit.

That pretty much says it all.


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