I grew up at a time when our parents didn’t have instant gratification when it came to their purchases. There was no exclaiming on a Saturday morning “Let’s go buy a TV”! They were thrifty with their purchases because they had to be. There were not an abundance of credit cards to rely on. Purchases were simply a cash transaction. So they had to scrimp and save for the things they really wanted. I think I was probably about 10 years old when we got “the new couch”, which, as I recall, was just a reupholstered old couch.
We lived in a modest home in an upscale section of a tiny New England town. It was 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, with a den, living room, dining room, and kitchen. This house would later become (in another decade) a 2-story, 4-bedroom home with an office, den, living room, etc… It is a lovely home and now over 100 years old.
My parents would get up at the ass crack of dawn on the weekends and hit yard sales, flea markets, thrift stores, consignment shops and anywhere else they thought they could score a deal. My twin brother and I were deposited at the grandparents, who lived a mere block away, while my parents hit the streets. My Dad who is very organized was likely armed with some sort of itinerary, Consumer Reports magazine, and trail mix. They would come home with a myriad of things, including, furniture, clothing, brick-a-brack, toys (albeit perhaps merely a box of plastic dollhouse furniture, but my brother and I had vivid imaginations – we made anything work). I do not recall a time that our house was sparse. On the contrary, it was full of thrifty gems. And my parents got better at it as the years went on. My father, a realtor, would buy estate houses. They would be full of the life of the previous owner who had perhaps passed on and left no family behind. My parents would scarf up these houses and we would spend endless hours going through the stuff, cleaning it up and then they would sell everything that was left, and then my Dad would sell the house. My parents were the original Flippers! (How did I not see that till just now?)
When I became an adult, I took the tools that I learned by osmosis and filled my various homes with my own array of second hand furniture and thrift store finds. But I wanted NEW stuff. I wanted a matching living room set and brand new place settings! I wanted what everyone else had! I luckily snapped out of that with a quickness. As soon as I had declared it, I realized that was not what I wanted at all. I didn’t want mass production. I wanted the charm of something that came with a story, a history, something that came with a haggle, something that was a steal, or a bargain, or I’d found in the trash. I didn’t want a piece of furniture that I had to replace in 10 minutes because it was not built of sturdy construction. Without even knowing it, I wanted the thrill of the hunt, I wanted the spoils of the bargain, the win of one man’s trash becoming my treasures.