Non-Retail School Therapy

by 2ndhandroses on 2014/08/20


Old School Days Old School Days


It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Now those lyrics may normally be heard on the radio around Christmas but for millions of parents across the nation and around the world, these words convey an entirely different meaning…

…school is back in session!


And while their parents may be thrilled at the prospect of shipping off their kids for another fun-filled year, their offspring probably are not as fired up as mom and dad. Trading summer fun for memorizing locker combinations, fighting hallway crowds, not to mention mountains of homework somehow seems like a sour deal for most youngsters. I’d hazard a guess that one of the few things kids actually enjoy in preparation for the new school year is the annual ritual of school shopping.


Now when I was a kid, it was mandatory to visit the ubiquitous Buster Brown shoe store to be outfitted with decent footgear for the first day of school. This part, for me, actually wasn’t too bad. I enjoyed all the fussing of the lady helping me try on my new lace-ups, and certainly secretly thrilled in the smell of the leather. Buying a pretty new dress also was something to look forward to as my mother and I visited our local department store.


And so it was that on the first day back to school, I’d be resplendent in my red gingham dress, matching red socks, and spiffy new footwear shining in the sun.


Jazzy Pink Kicks Jazzy Pink Kicks


Fast forward a few years and now I’m in the dubious position of being a prematurely graying (yikes!) mom to a 16-year-old style expert who somehow replaced my will-wear-anything toddler seemingly in the blink of an eye. Now I find myself in the bittersweet position of rejoicing in his burgeoning adulthood while feeling the sting as his fashion choices make larger and larger dents in the family budget. Gone are the days, unfortunately, of buckling him up in generic overalls and T-shirts. Nowadays, it’s all about the labels.


You Paid How Much for That? You Paid How Much for That?


As I mention in my book, Second Hand Roses: The Junktiquing Road, this whole buying-retail thing now, has really become farcical for me. With my years of thrifting experience clouding my judgment on what constitutes a normal price for things, I take great umbrage to the thought of parting with more than $10 for a pair of jeans! Poor Julius.


For example, a visit to Sears a while back found me on more than one occasion laughing out loud at the prices displayed on the racks.


“Avoiding the sidelong glances of the saleslady stacking T-shirts nearby, I muffled an indignant snort or two as I scoffed at the temerity of the store to price a simple hoodie at well over $50. Are they serious, I thought to myself, looking over the cheap plastic zipper, destined for breakage within a month or two. The thing looked no more substantial than an overgrown sweatshirt; the only seeming justification of such an outrageous price being the tiny label stitched in the neckline. Did they expect the wearer to turn the jacket inside-out, so as to impress anyone with sharp enough eyes to see the tag?”


Nonetheless, my son has his heart set these days on certain brands and while I could afford that $50 hoodie, quite frankly it’s more often than not that I have returned from a thrifting run at one of my local thrift store haunts, with a bag full of clothes that cost far less than that stupid $50 hoodie! And these are not junky, nasty, your-grandpa’s clothes-type fashion, albeit nowadays that can be considered quite cool, if you listen to a certain artist. These are outfits he can wear with pride, labels and all, and unless he broadcasts to his buddies where they came from, it’s on a need-to-know basis as to how much actually was spent.


A Tisket, A Tasket, save money in your basket! A Tisket, A Tasket, save money in your basket!



Each year, I see this trend continuing, easily documented on the web.

In the Reuters article, “ Survey Finds 86% of Back-to-School Shoppers Frustrated by Budget Constraints,” the largest online resale shop for women and children’s clothing released their annual survey of back-to -school shopping. It stated that almost 90% of shoppers found that due to financial and time constraints, it was becoming increasingly challenging to get good bargains for their kids for school. According to the article,

“Style and savings are motivating Americans including back-to-school shoppers, to by secondhand clothes. Over eight in 10 (81%) Americans would buy a secondhand item for themselves because it’s a great way to save money (68%), and is a smart way to shop if they are on a strict budget (45%).”



Retail, schmetail Retail, schmetail


In the Examiner article, “6 Ways Parents Make the Most of Thrift Store Shopping for Back to School,” author Nicole Ramage gives some excellent advice on how to score the best bargains at thrift stores for back to school. One example is,


“Take advantage of tag sales. In most thrift stores, there is a different color tag sale going on each day. Take advantage of the discount that you receive if you purchase items of that colored tag. Often times you can get things up to 50% the sale price.”

So until this economy turns around (hopefully soon!) why don’t you join some of your neighbors at your local thrift store? You may be amazed at what you find.

Sound the Bell, school is back in session! Sound the Bell, school is back in session!


 “Cannot people realize how large an income is thrift?” – Cicero


Photos courtesy Jen Trimman, Martin Boose, Andrea Kratzenberg, Roger Kirby, and Chrstine Rondeau of



Giving Instant Ancestors New Life

by 2ndhandroses on 2014/03/12

Somebody's Great-great Auntie Violet Somebody’s Great-great Auntie Violet



By now, if you’ve read any of my posts, you have probably come to the conclusion that I am pretty fascinated with old photographs.


Not any old photographs, mind you.


While I may enjoy an occasional shot of a vintage aircraft or anonymous road, what fascinates me most are people.


And the lives they led.


I call them Instant Ancestors.


I keep finding them and writing about them because for some reason they intrigue me and make me a little bit sad too.


I wonder what would motivate some family to throw out a photograph of their loved one.  I see these faces stacked in boxes in antique shops, ranging from daguerrotypes, to cabinet cards, to black and white shots from the 1950s to Polaroids to formal portraits.  Each one makes me stop for a second and consider the face peering out from within the confines of the image.


I wonder…what was that person (or people if it’s a group shot) like?


What was going on that day?


Why did they dress that way for their picture?


Why did they pick that particular moment to have that photograph taken?


And why did that memory ultimately become worthless?


In my travels down the Junktiquing Road, I have seen these photographs over and over and have always been struck by these and other questions.


Lately, I have taken to bringing a lot of these photographs home and framing them or displaying them in different ways around my house.  My poor husband will come home and see a new (to him) old photograph and ask, “who’s that?”


My response is usually, “I have no idea.”


But I felt that the person in that photograph needed a home again and needed to be displayed and given a new life, so to speak.


And so we come to the subject of showing these precious photographs off.  Now I am a wee bit crafty, but having been trolling Pinterest for the past year or so, I realize now that I am woefully lacking in the creative department when it comes to really shining new light on these old lives.


I’ve found some cool ideas I wanted to share with you, in case you wanted to show off your newest photograph of dear old great great great uncle Melvin.


So far, I’ve just been framing them in regular old frames.  I know, BORING.


How about this….


You could put them in privy dug bottles!  What a concept!  They look fabulous on a shelf as you can see below.


Instant Ancestors in a Bottle Instant Ancestors in a Bottle


[click to continue…]


Carry My Heart

February 11, 2014

Call me old school, but I find it much more romantic to have a real-live piece of paper in my hand with authentic writing on it that required more than a couple of seconds’ visit to a quirky website and a brief text message or 140-character message.

Read the full article →

A Made in America Christmas

December 11, 2013

Every time you participate in this madness, thinking you are getting a super bargain on that toaster, you are contributing to someone else losing their job here in the States.

Read the full article →


November 1, 2013

How many of us actually stop to reflect on the lives we enjoy? Do we sit down and truly consider how fortunate we all are as a Western society to have the opportunity to gather friends and family in our warm homes, place settings for all, with our very best china set out to receive a momentous bounty of succulent treats? It’s a beautiful thing we have here and it behooves us to impart deeper meaning of the word “thanksgiving” to our children, in between bites of sautéed beans and pumpkin pie a la mode.

Read the full article →