"One Man's Trash: Junk or Treasure?"

imagesI once read somewhere that “a bargain ain’t a bargain unless it’s something you really need.” Well, whoever coined the phrase has obviously never met my wife. She’s a genuine, first rate bargain hunter. She especially enjoys going to thrift stores, and yard, garage and estate sales. She’s no stranger to getting up at the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings and hitting the streets in search of those pre-owned bargains She likes to get there before other thriftstoreshoppers can grab them. To her a bargain is anything that she can purchase at a fraction of the original price, whether its something she needs or not. A bargain is a bargain and you just never know when you or someone close to you may need it!

junk-removal-nh-second-hand-storeYeah she’s quite good at finding bargains and has one hell of a stockpile of her “treasures,” a quick walk through our home and garage will attest to that! They’re everywhere! You know that old saying about one man’s trash being someone else’s treasure, well my wife is living proof of that! I, of course, don’t agree with that old saying, most of the time one man’s trash is just that, TRASH! But that’s just me.

What’s I truly find incredible is her ability to remember where she stores things. She pretty much knows exactly where everything is no matter how long ago she purchased it! How she does it I’ll never understand. It never ceases to amaze me when I mention something I’m looking for or one of the kids comes over and mentions something they need or are looking for and 9 times out of 10 she’ll have it stashed away somewhere!  She’ll explain that she picked it up at a yard sale or thrift store sometime back to have on hand just in case someone might need it. Around here its always a good idea to check with mom before going out and buying anything.

Yeah my wife has been “thrifting” for quite sometime now. She’s been doing it since long before it became so popular during the last recession when millions of people began looking for ways to save money in tough economic times. Many turned to yard sales and thrift stores to find clothes, furniture and household goods and the trend continues today. Yard sales have have become an ongoing occurrence and thrift and resale stores have been popping up like crazy. I enjoy an occasional visit to a thrift store but I never go with my wife anymore. The last time I went with her we entered the store together but after 10 minutes I had perused all the inventory I found interesting while in that same 10 minute span my wife had moved maybe 15 feet down the very first aisle! Yes she doesn’t like to miss a thing!

Back in the day, when we were teens, my buddies and I used to frequent the American Veterans Thrift Store up in Azusa. The first time we went into Am/Vets we were looking for bargain Halloween wear which we had no problem finding. The place was amazing, so much useful junk and clothing. It was awesome! I’d never been in a thrift store before. My mom didn’t like them and had told me not to be anything from a thrift store for fear that it might be contaminated or something. She was funny that way. She used to call Am/Vets the “tienda de la ganga.” I knew tienda meant store but had no clue what “ganga meant. The way she said it sounded like something really bad. It wasn’t until years later I found out “ganga” meant bargain. The bargain store? Really? What wrong with that?  

On subsequent trips Am/Vets we found some colorful, monogrammed, team bowing shirts complete with falling pins on the back and names stitched on the front. I was Wayne and my buddy Brian was Moe. We used to wear them whenever we went to Covina Bowl.They were awesome! I bought so much stuff there, speakers for my car, a car stereo, boots, shirts, jeans and my first army field jacket. Man I always wore that thing!  I remember once when I was in my early twenties I bought a beautiful tan, corduroy sports coat with suede elbow patches. It looked brand new. I also bought a pair of dark slacks and a blue, long sleeved dress shirt. I had the jacket and pants cleaned  and washed the shirt, then proceeded to wear them a family wedding.My mom was impressed with my clothes especially the jacket. She thought I had purchased it at the Man’s Shop in Foothill Center. You don’t know how much I enjoyed telling her that my wardrobe had been purchased for a grand total of $9 from the “tienda de la ganga!” She was blown away! Yeah it was a moment I’ll never forget.

Today the image of thrift stores and second-hand shops has really changed. They are no longer thought of as dark, musty smelling stores, selling used, worn out household items and outdated clothes. Now over 20% of the population now shops at thrift stores up from less than 14 % before the recession. Since then Goodwill has experienced an annual growth rate of 10% each year. The Salvation Army has also experienced a profitable growth rate since the recession. Yeah the thrift and resale business is busting out all over, even on the internet. With the advent of  Ebay, Craigslist and other similar websites, resellers have any number of ways to sell their used wares and shoppers have an unending supply of used junk, I mean treasures to chose from.

Happy shopping!



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