My idea of shopping is making a list, going to a store that has everything I need, purchasing the items and then rushing home. My 12 year old daughter’s idea of shopping is going to a ton of different stores for hours on end and trying on clothes she neither needs nor has enough money to buy. Fortunately she has some good friends who love to participate in that all-day activity with her. They call it window shopping.
The first time I heard that phrase I was probably about the same age Daisy is now and it was from an episode of my favourite TV show Mary Tyler Moore, in which Mary took her landlord’s young daughter out for a fun-filled day of looking at things while not spending a dime. That’s kind of what Daisy and her friends do as well, but they also try on clothes, take chelfies and text them to me.
What are chelfies? They’re selfies from change rooms.
“Do you love it?” she titled a recent picture of herself wearing an adorable dress I actually did love.
“Yes,” I texted back, knowing she had some birthday money in her purse. “How much?”
“Too much,” she said. “I’m not in the market to buy today anyway. We’re just looking and getting ideas.”
Getting ideas for what I wasn’t sure, but Daisy’s always had a thing for fashion and has expressed her own sense of style since she was a toddler. For that reason I introduced her to thrift and consignment store shopping years ago. She wasn’t keen on the idea initially.
“It smells weird in here,” she said the first time I took her in one of the bigger, busier second hand stores. “And there’s too much stuff.” I agreed. It was overwhelming.
We stayed though, and I helped her browse through a rack of children’s clothes from which we found a brand name denim jacket that looked identical to the one she had her eye on at the mall a few months earlier. She was impressed.
“This is only $3.99,” she said excitedly. “It’s supposed to be 50 bucks.”
“See what I mean?” I asked. “Someone paid full price for this and didn’t want it anymore and donated it to the store. You could buy this and a dozen other things in here for what you would have paid for this jacket when it was new.”
That one simple find inspired her to look through the cluttered assortment on the racks and see what other treasures she could discover. She collected a few more items that put a smile on her face and that had me grinning as well. Second-hand shopping is enjoyable when you have the time and you’re in the mood.
It’s certainly not efficient or all that productive because you don’t always see anything you want or need. But if you think of it more like a leisure activity that may or may not result in stumbling upon a bargain that you love, it can be a delightful way to spend time together.
The stigma that used to accompany this activity appears to have vanished. People from all walks of life and income levels buy from thrift shops, consignment stores, flea markets, auctions, yard sales or off the internet – and not necessarily for the bargains. Sometimes they’re looking for a unique item or retro piece that’s not available new. Other times the eco-friendly aspect of buying recycled items is the appeal. And then there are the people who take great pleasure in the creativity and imagination it evokes.
I like it for all those reasons, and while I may have learned about window shopping from Mary Tyler Moore, I definitely learned the art of second hand shopping from Mary Christina McSorley. She’s my artistic grandmother who has quite an eye for style, beauty, quality and value.
Daisy and her friends love to buy new clothes too, and occasionally they will. But whether they’re retailing, window shopping or buying second hand, it’s likely they’re going to have a fabulous time. It’s also likely I’ll receive a few chelfies.
Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be found at LoriWelbourne.com