Recession watch: Suddenly, thrifting is OK for the hoi-polloi

This post is part of a series about real-life signs we're in a recession.

Picture this, thrift store brethren: A woman in a late model Mercedes parks next to you and wanders into your favorite thrift store. Once inside, you notice her picking through the clothes, the bags, the belts, and eyeballing one of several interesting pieces of furniture.

What's going on, you wonder, not a little put out by the sight of an apparently well-off member of society making use of "your" affordable consumer items.

What's going on here is an over-all belt-tightening. As the economy loses steam, people fear for the jobs, and the house-ATM machine dries up, people are looking at all the ways they can save. Frugality has suddenly become "in."Ironically, it's been our large-livin', disposable, over-consumptive society that has made thrift store shopping the rich vein that it is. We thrifters have always known that you can find new or practically new clothes, for example, among the racks next to the stained polyester. We have long been the beneficiaries of our economic betters' retail therapy. They buy the outfit, outfit sits in closet for a year, they give the outfit to the Goodwill. We snap it up for pennies on the dollar.

But this is going to get trickier now that they're onto us. "With the economy in its current condition, I think people will begin turning to more thrifty ways of shopping," Sheena Massie told the New York Times in a recent article. The woman is opening her own thrift store soon with her mother. "We want everyone that shops with us to enjoy the same thrill we do when we go thrifting."

Great. And I mean that from both sides of my heart. Great, more people will choose to spend their dollar wisely, supporting hand-to-mouth thrift stores in the process; and also great, now-I-have-more-competition when I go thrifting myself. But hey, just as I've always been ready with a meal or a couch to a hard-up friend, I suppose I can extend my hand in welcome to my longtime frugal living secret as well.

Hey lady in the Mercedes, welcome to the thrift store. (mind the gum on the floor...)
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