Thought Catalog

Confessions of a Thrift Store Whore

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I’m a bit of a whore, like many. But I’m not talking about the kind of whore – from either gender – who uses a busy street-corner after midnight, baiting clients with smooth or rusty marketing skills learned from the Do-It-Yourself School of Charm, nor the veteran from those corners who has learned to advertise who they are, into discreet information on business cards that directs potential costumers to their pimp’s phone number. I’m talking about whorishness derived from excessive habits to satisfy specific needs, the kind akin to mental habits that make one a media whore, vampire-movie whore, trend whore, or, yes, thrift-shop whore. These habits can easily be categorized as obsessions, although that description must be used with caution, since these kinds of whores, in general, have some awareness about being controlled by their fixations, and are, therefore, wary about not falling into traps that convince them they have, indeed, become qualified, resolute suckers.

I’m a thrift-shop whore, not because thrift shops are great places to hang out and connect with other people from Facebook or elsewhere who like used stuff, but because, as many of you know, you can purchase great merchandise there that probably won’t hurt you, at the cash register. However, I’m not always seduced by the lure of cheap merchandise in these stores, only spend on things I can use, and do not go through withdrawal symptoms or anxiety attacks, if I end up empty handed on my two previous visits there. Thus, in the arena of thrift-shop whoredom, I’m, categorically, a mild thrift-shop whore. Although I may have been an intense thrift-shop whore once, for a brief, unmemorable period, spending mindlessly on anything, even though I didn’t have much to spend. Indeed, these stores are heaven for the underpaid, although the parking lot of most used stores I patronize somehow tells me my co-shoppers have healthy bank accounts, can easily splurge at pricier stores, or may even be donors themselves of merchandise sold in these used stores. But then perhaps they have been thrift-store whores since their undergrad years at a public or private university, a period sustained by student-loan programs or depleted trust funds, and cannot evolve out of being bargain hunters.

Years ago, I became a regular at a neighborhood used-store, to look for brand-name sneakers. Adidas, Nike, and Puma were the usual brand-names I looked for. I used to shop once a month there, and only spend fifteen to thirty minutes at the men’s shoe-rack, looking for a great steal, then a few minutes to browse t-shirts, before leaving. But those were the good old days, before I became a thrift-shop whore. These days, I’m a weekly bargain hunter, not only looking for shoes and t-shirts but also for sweaters, pants, some bags, books, and music cds. The cd display shelves have become my focal-point, in these weekly two-hour visits, which now consumes half of my time, looking for anything that catches my eye, such as any old albums by U2, Maroon 5, Nora Jones, Marvin Gaye, Chopin, Cher, Schubert, Madonna, or Carlos Santana.

But the music section has not derailed me from the men’s shoe-racks, which I check carefully, because a great catch could be hidden under the gigantic size-thirteens or fourteens. Usually, shoe-racks for men, in most used stores I frequent, are nothing compared to shoe-racks for women. Women used-store shoppers have more selections to choose from. This probably means women think more about their feet than men, in terms of care and ways of dressing them up. But just because men used-store shoppers do not have an array of shoes to choose from doesn’t mean they are locked out of getting a great steal. In many ways though, this particular scarcity -as in life, in general- summons sharpened hunter-gatherer skills among men shoppers there, to not only look for shoes around the men’s shoe section, but into the women’s shoe section as well.

Now this ceremonious spatial-expansion, in shoe bargain hunting, does not mean these men are trying to satisfy the feminine aspect of their tastes, nor are they necessarily expressing some uncontrolled fetish for women’s shoes, revealed in a thrift-store public-sphere, that may later inspire details for a story or theoretical paper. Not quite. These men wander into the women’s shoe section to look for stray men’s shoes, amidst the general chaos of voices, leathery shoe-smell, and, yes, feet-smell, in that section. Often, men’s shoes are misplaced in the women’s display racks, because of children who make toys out of anything that catch the regimes of their tastes, besides shoes their mothers are trying to browse through; and since their mothers are busy fitting shoes, these children wander to a nearby rack -the men’s area, usually- where they can resume the summer of boisterous play, while still within the general scope of their mother’s or auntie’s highly-distracted peripheral vision.

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    • ZaneEatsWorld

      Wow… that was probably the best two page tangent on shoes i've ever read and/or decided to skim because it looked utterly boring!

      • I. Oceanic

        Agree. More real than any real whore: because he can bore hard.

    • Cee Are Vee

      You're also a comma whore. Not a mind comma-whore, a bona fide comma whore. Read up on when and when not to use them.

      • I. Oceanic

        “Read up on when and when not to use them.”
        ————-

        This piece had to go through TC Editors, right? If it does, then this comma-whore's comma usage must be up to TC comma-usage standards. You're suggesting TC editors don't know their comma rules, too.

      • Michael

        Comma whores have their own set of rules. I'm, one, of, those, they, consult,

      • staff

        you might also tell the editor to read up on when to use commas….after all they accepted this whore’s brilliant work

    • Solli Zwerg

      I just wanted to say, that Adidas is German and not North American as you wrote. Other than that great article and I can totally relate.

      • Mike

        Yes, Adidas is German. But it's still up there with Nike in North America. Glad you liked the piece. Thanks.

    • DISQUS

      I can somewhat relate.

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