To prepare for my life as a perpetual thrifter, I spent hours as a child studying Where’s Waldo? and scouring the beaches of Indian Rocks in search of shark’s teeth. Having trained my eyes to zero in on key objects, I am now master of the thrift. It’s a gift, really, and one that definitely comes in handy when you’re broke.
CL’s Julie Garisto and Leilani Polk also share the gift of thrift (see their stories in this week’s issue). So when our editor gave us 100 bucks to see what we could buy with it, we jumped at the chance.
Before meeting up with my cohorts, I got two awesome finds from Hospice Thrift Store on 49th St. N. and 38th Ave. N. in St. Petersburg.
Lately, I’ve been on the lookout for anything that screams Mad Men — patent leather closed-toe stilettos, form-fitting business dresses, swanky leather purses — and at Hospice I scored a vintage Susan Gail blue leather purse valued at $50 for $4.99, in perfect condition. I imagine a lovely little old lady only used it once or twice, as there wasn’t a scratch on it.
Finding a good vintage shoe in your size and in good condition — the holy grail of thrifting — is nearly impossible. Women from yesteryear must’ve had skinny little baby feet because most vintage heels are about as wide as a toothpick. Or maybe all the skinny baby-footed women died young from starvation, leaving a trail of thin footwear in their wake. But I found a pair of La Patti custom-made brown leather stilettos with the sweetest brown bow on the toe for $6, and they fit like a dream.
Onto Goodwill at Central Ave. and 34th St. S., which some call the mack daddy of Goodwills. For me, most things there are hit or miss. But the dress aisle is different; I’ve never walked out of that place without a bag full of beautiful dresses at prices that could be called criminal. If you go on a Friday night around 7 p.m., you’ll find a cross-section of St. Petersburg women there in droves pillaging the dress and shoe aisle for their upcoming night on the town. Keeping with the Mad Men theme, I found a dress straight out of Joan Holloway’s closet. The skinny plaid sheath, with a black fabric belt at the waist, slipped on like it was made for me and only set me back $5.
With the holidays coming up, I was in dire need of a non-black dress for the upcoming season. Goodwill delivered with a Jones Wear Ink Blue sleeveless empire waist gown for $5, which retails normally for $120.
I had a pair of shoes for one dress, but not the other, so I headed into the five-aisle-wide shoe selection. There they were, hidden between cherry red wedge flip-flops and penny loafers: a pair of brand new Unlisted by Kenneth Cole red, mustard yellow and brown patchwork patent leather stilettos in my size for just $5.26.
Inspired by my winning streak, I started exploring the rest of the store and picked up a brand new (with tags) Paul & Joe woven plaid owl weekender bag for just $4.26. The bag, designed by Sophie Albou, came out in 2006 at Target and retailed then for $34.99.
My budget: $33.3333. Total spent: $30.51.
And here are tallies for the other members of The Thrifty Three:
Leilani: Paisley sundress (poly/nylon), $8.95; black long-sleeve v-neck cashmere cardigan, $3.95; black ruffled skirt with rhinestone-embellished waist, $3.45; Teva sandals with the tag still on (never worn), $1.95, all at Sunshine Thrift, 2808 34th St. N., St. Petersburg.
Julie: DVDs of La Vie en Rose and an under-the-radar Wahlberg/Joaquin Phoenix flick called We Own the Night, $6.60; H&M green cardigan, $6, all at Sunshine. A set of pretty striped Ikea drinking glasses, $4.50; a crockpot, $8; a red formal gown, $9; bubble bath kit (new, sealed and totally unused), $2, all at the Goodwill at 34th and Central.