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Paper Clips

Shopping on a budget

When I was growing up, mom would come back from a thrift store shopping adventure and pull out her goodies and share her "finds" with me. I was always impressed and, when I got older, sometimes green with envy.

What I could find in a thrift store and what mother could find in a thrift store were two very different things: every shirt I liked had a stain or a hole, every shirt she grabbed seemed to be in mint condition. If I needed a coffee pot, I always picked the broken one when she could find the one that had never been used but was still the same price as all the others.

In later years when I'd visit her, I'd oooohhhh and ahhhhh and ask her where she got things and the answer would either be St. Vinny's, Goodwill or Value Village.

I've spent a tremendous amount of time in thrift shops lately and I'd like to think I've gotten the knack.

Lately, I'm learning to stop saying an entire outfit cost less than $11 when people compliment what I'm wearing, including the shoes.

Unfortunately, the compliments have yet to extend to the treasures I've lugged home with me. I'm hearing a lot more "ahhhhhhhs" and less "ohhhhhs" than I ever uttered, and it's usually after someone has asked "What on earth is that?!"

The orange candy dish made of glass that features a bird with a four-inch tail on top solicits a lot of "ahhhhs," but the blue and white paper machete pig gets lots of "ohhhhhs." The rustic, antique (circa 1950s) canisters leave people scratching their heads as much as the 1940s bread box that's dented all to heck.

My rapidly growing teapot collection isn't being met with much fanfare, nor are my various vintage pots and pans.

Every picture I bring home is met with a curious "hmmmmmmmmmm," and I've finally gotten to the point of holding up my hand and saying, "You'll understand when everything is in its place."

All this thrift store shopping begs the question, "When will it all be in its proper place?"

I figure some day, I will know the answer to that.

In the meantime, I will continue to shop for and drag home my coveted, albeit weird, little treasures.

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