By Daniel Richer
It was in August of 1984 when my dog and I were contemplating exactly how in window to finish up our
summer tour of North America. Mid-morning on a Louisville, Ky freeway in a 1978 volks wagon bus on
the way to Detroit, when a guide pass pointing to the back of the vehicle yelling, “You're on fire!” So, we
pull over I get the pooch out and I sit how far into the field. Upon my return to the bus no access the
flames are already too intense and rising as high as the overpass – ‘footage for the 6 o'clock news”, I
thought. Once the cops and firemen finish their work, I went about salvaging what's left of my toolbox
my camera lens and my passport and some photos that we had so tightly Pak that the flames could not
burn them. He seemed fate and a leaky fuel system had decided when and where our North America
trip would end.
The only clothes I had left was the ones I was wearing (jeans with wallet in the pocket, handkerchief, a
shirt, my socks and boots). The cop gave me and the pool a lift into town where we rent a car and then
visit the Salvation Army store. There we but a backpack, a few T shirts, a pair of trousers, some socks,
and the leash. With my passport still intact, it seemed the only thing to do was to use it, so he went to
Europe, where I remained for the next 22 years. As for the articles we picked up at the Salvation Army
that day, I would say they stood up well. The trousers, tan in color, lasted until about 1986 and saw me
through a lot of walking and stylish hitchhiking. One of the T shirts, (orange in color with the words Bora
Bora on the front, last me until 1993 or so when the conditions of Liberia, somehow help consume its
fabric. The canvas backpack, yellow in color, is still with me, although the front pocket zipper failed in
the late 1990’s prompting me to remove the front pocket all together. The leash remained with us until
February of 1992, when I had it cremated in France along with my departed loyal best friend.
When I first moved to Sacramento, 16 years ago, I once again counted on the Salvation Army store near
my home to help me get started. There, for about $40, I was able to outfit nearly my whole apartment
by attending their morning auctions. All this stuff was proper and served me extremely well -- exactly
the right stuff at the right time. It was only some 2 1/2 years later, when my wife arrived here, that we
started replacing some of the dear items I had acquired from the Salvation Army store. We still have a
few ceramic mugs and bowls from those times.
Meet a Thrift Maven
By Rick Kenpan
In Elk Grove CA their lives a middle-aged couple that resides in a beautiful two-story home in a cull-de-
sac that you would think, just by looking at it, that the people live there are well to do and probably
have some fine furnishings to complement the dwellings. Well, you will be half right. Meet Trees Davis...
wife of Carthen Davis, and avid Thrifter that has taken her love and gift for thrifting to a beautiful level.
Trees is wearing a yellow T shirt, jeans leggings and a yellow print scarf draped around her neck. Now, as
you may have guessed, all came from the thrift store, including the knee-high boots by Vince Ferrgamo,
that would normally range in the costs of $300 to $600 which she got for $69... Still in the box.
Trees started out as an unwilling Thrifter. Her mother used to drag her to the thrift store to shop for
things she needed. She says her family was poor and the little choices of places to shop. What used to
be referred to as secondhand stores, Trees dreaded it so much that she would be on the lookout to see
if any of her friends were around to see her going inside the store. Later, in life, she found that when on
a tight budget, she realized why her mother shop at these stores and gain respect for her choices. Even
much so, that she began looking in these stores for the best bargains she could find for her own family.
In her dining room, I'm looking at a 3 ft by 1ft, tall wooden cyber buffet chest, at least this is what I'm
going to call it, that costs a whopping $10 at a yard sale. Trees says she doesn't buy for the expense of it,
she buys because I like it. There is a nice French inlay service card tucked in a corner that fits just right.
Above a hanging amber chain lamp that reminds her of her childhood being a child of the 70s era,
method dictate the core perfectly. We make short ways to the city parlor where tree shows us what she
calls her throne. A 10 foot, high back wooden carved chair with an oval mirror almost as high as a
chairback itself. A formal French provincial chair that she purchased some 12 years ago that she fell in
love with and it's natural aging (patina) wear on it. She says, “if this chair could talk.”
While talking with Carthen, Trees goes up the stairs and changes into a two-piece, Asian style custom
made pantsuit that she found for $49.00, which she says is one of the most expensive outfits she owns.
It is one of many pieces of her wardrobe which she says it is at least 80% thrift finds. Trees looks for
labels because of the quality they possess. She also loves the fact that by her saving money thrifting, she
can donate some of her savings to charity, churches, and people in need.
By Jasmyne Daniels
Secondhand items, like all of us, have a story. Much like these items, the many people
who acquire secondhand items have stories as well. The trials and tribulations that each piece
faces in order to stay intact and provide for the next person in need of their support, much like
the person who must wear or who gifts these items. So, if we all have a story, might I describe
mine? Maybe it isn’t so interesting, but it does explain how the pieces of clothing have an almost
personified role in the lives of me and many.
The beginning. Stories always, of course, start from the beginning and my beginning is
maybe of cliche to many. It started with my 3 brothers and I, me being the second youngest of
the bunch. We lived in the burrows in the evergreens of the California Capitol of Sacramento.
Life was joyous from the perspective of the young me, but I often understood the hard times we
fell on with 5 people to provide for altogether from the adults' perspectives. Clothes, shoes,
food, and all other things to make our lives seem normal and easy. I often noticed this struggle
around the beginning of school years, providing decent clothes and shoes that were much
needed as we all grew into our respective ages. It was patternized and from that age I could
really grasp this, I would question and look at life from a whole new perspective.
Every year we participated in the mellow rides in the car past the grouped together store
plazas that lined the streets and the bustling food markets and fast-food places right up to the
donation store. Good will, was it called? Yes, Good Will. Seeing large, plastered posters of
advertisements to ‘donate to the homeless’ or be kind and ‘help those in need’. The first time I
went I asked myself, “We are in need?”, confused because they didn’t make it so much seem
like we were. We hustled out of the car and in through the front doors of this donation center,
greeted by the cold air and the security guard and employees. As we all stepped in, we split
almost immediately into the isles and began to graze the many pieces of secondhand items that
were available to us. Some of the pieces of clothing looked very outdated at the time, wine-
colored velvet dresses that screamed renaissance times, decorated with gems and white
stitching; nightgowns that you would see elderly women wearing covered in faded orange
flowers and fly away stitching on the seams; and stitched clothing pieces that people make for
their daughters if they’re skilled enough to and gift them to them. It was all there. But from the
moment I began to see this pattern of older clothing I asked myself, “What are their stories?”.
What possibly could have happened for these relics of time and relics of history to be passed
down and given up for people in need to have access to? Maybe someone moved out and had
to give up some of their clothes? Maybe someone moved in and found it but had no interest in it
and donated it? Maybe someone just genuinely wanted to give away clothes that no longer
served them for the greater good? But of course, I knew that these stories may never be
revealed to me, but it always made me curious.
Every year when we visited, I would wander these isles completely curious about old,
and newer, secondhand clothing items that grazed my fingertips. Some might even ask if I was
embarrassed to be in these stores, if my ego and/or pride had been affected at all. But in all
actuality, I was somewhat honored to wear some of the clothes I had access to because I had
the opportunity to add to their secondhand stories. I was given the chance to have someone
else asking themselves what the story of those secondhand items were and that excited me the
most. And ironically, once I’d grown out of these clothes, they were taken back to be donated
again and given the chance to fall into someone else's hands and be taken in for another story.
Not only had they changed my perspective, they allowed me to open my eyes and look at things
from a deeper perspective. They allowed me to give back to someone else and hopefully
change their lives as well.
So many years later, as I look back on this story, I say again: secondhand items play
almost a personified role in people's lives. They create stories for themselves, much like
humans do and much like I have acquiring these clothes. They are the flint to the fire of curiosity
that sparked in my young mind. Most of all, they unknowingly play roles in the stories of
peoples’ lives and ultimately give to those in need like someone with a kindred soul would.
Secondhand items, like all of us, have a story to