In the He Says/She Says series, we discuss financial topics where we agree to disagree.
After Johnny and I had been dating for a few months, I found out the cold, hard truth about most of his clothing: it had been carefully hand-picked from the thrift store. Admittedly, he was a well-dressed guy. I loved his laidback style of soft T-shirts, worn-in pants, and a pair of Vans (not from the thrift store). But a couple months into us hanging out, he started suggesting quite regularly that we drop by the thrift shop.
Initially I saw no harm in this request and readily complied. But then I started seeing a whole new side to Johnny. Once we entered the thrift store, he became a different kind of animal. Dare I pretend to hip and say he entered “beastmode.” He’d meticulously rift through any and every clothing item that was size “M” with a precision and focus that I could only wish for. I’d wander off for a few moments and then return to find a pile of clothes already draped across Johnny’s arm and a grin on his face.
And me? While 75% of Johnny’s clothes were from thrifting, exactly zero of my clothes were. Pre-marriage and pre-budgeting, I was quite particular when it came to what clothing could be allowed a hanger in my closet. I had the mindset that buying new, quality clothing was worth the cost because it would last a long time.
And then once we got married, I found out Johnny’s deepest, darkest thrift-store secret: he didn’t just buy thrift store clothes for himself. He sometimes bought and sold them to other people, too! One such example is classic baseball shirts. Before I even met Johnny, he started collecting and selling vintage baseball shirts, and to this day, we have several of them in storage (AKA in a bag on the floor of our closet, taking up precious space). He refuses to let me deliver them back to their home (the thrift store) because of their “worth.” And his closet is jam packed with vintage thrift store finds that he rarely wears but that he cannot part with because they’re one of a kind. He values his thrift store shirts over his new (never before worn by a stranger!) clothing we buy. And if I ask him why he loves a second-hand shirt, here are just a few of his usual responses:
- “Jo, just feel how soft this shirt is. It’s already worn-in for me!”
- “I really don’t think I’ve ever had a shirt fit me this perfectly.”
- “Just think if this shirt could talk and the story it would tell… where it’s been, the people who have worn it. Wouldn’t it be awesome to know its backstory?” “No. But I’d be interested to know how many times, if any, it’s been washed.”
Apparently, this guy also has a few things to say about his love for thrift stores in his current #1 song in the US:
A few months ago I began feeling a teensy bit of love toward Johnny’s thrift-store T-shirts when I was very pregnant and none of my own shirts fit anymore. I was dying for something comfy to wear, but as soon as my swollen pregnant fingers touched one of his thrift shirts, Johnny became protective over it.
“Joooo, you’re gonna stretch it out!”
Luckily, all it took was me offering to go spend money on actual maternity shirts before he was much more open to me stealing from his side of the closet.
What makes Johnny love shopping at the thrift store so much? I can’t speak for him, but I think the main reason is the money saved. And a close runner up is the feeling he gets when he stumbles upon a great find. It’s like a treasure hunt of sorts, and he has found that one perfect wardrobe item among the hundreds of stretched out, worn out, and never-shoulda-been-worn pieces of clothing. “Come to me, perfect T-shirt. You have been chosen. Say goodbye to your inferior rack mates. I will take you to a place where you will be respected and loved. A place where you’ll be safe.” That’s what I imagine Johnny’s internal dialogue is when he captures the elusive perfect thrift tee.
As we’ve been married longer, we don’t go on thrift-store shopping sprees quite as much. But when we do go, I’ve started really enjoying looking for treasures in the home section for items such as dishes, frames, and other bits and baubles. And Johnny has expanded beyond just clothes shopping to looking for vinyl records. I don’t think I’ll ever quite love the thrift-store clothing section quite like Johnny does. For now, I’ll get my clothing-deal fix from the sale rack of my favorite stores.
So, do you thrift? Did that music video hit home for you like it does for Johnny? Like me, are there any items you’d rather get new (like clothing), or are you with Johnny on this one?