May 19, 2013

Yes, I Shop Salvation Army

I’ve been silent over the past few days because I’ve just been busy (catching up on Him writing projects). I also spent an overnight at the house for the first time since moving out; I got into dad mode for my ex while she had to leave town. It was great to spend an overnight with the kids again.

Today, I want to blog about a new vice of mine: my local Salvation Army thrift stores.


Any transwoman who’s not rich has probably already figured out that thrift stores are a perfect place to get clothes on the cheap. But Salvation Army stores are even better than the other stores in the area. Every week, they have a 50% off sale on any clothes with price tags of a certain color — green, purple, yellow, brown, or white. And every Friday and Saturday, the color of the week becomes 5 items for $5. Yes, that’s a buck an item.

Since i discovered this I’ve been at my local stores (there are three in my area within convenient driving distance) every weekend  For the budding transwoman on a budget, this is an incredible petri dish of style. I never know what I will find, but at a buck apiece it’s easy to justify “trying out” something. Why spend $25 on a pair of jeans in the store when $5 on Friday might net me a pair of jeans, a skirt, and three tops? And if something doesn’t fit, or if I decide it isn’t my style? Well, heck, I only spent $1 on it.

There are downsides of course. You never know what they’ll have in your size and with the right tag color, and so you can’t really shop for specific pieces. It’s all random luck. But I’ve spent $10 a week on clothes — $5 each in two different stores — and out of 20 items, about half of them had the qualities of (a) fitting me and (b) looking good on me. Of the other half, 5 items are nice, but require me to lose weight; and the other half are basically losers, usually things that don’t fit me and don’t look good on me, or fit me but still don’t look good on me.

$5 wasted on $20 spent? And 10 perfectly wearable items? Yes, please!

And the result is I’ve grown my little wardrobe to a point where I can mix and match and experiment. At some point, I have to have a wardrobe that is robust and flexible enough to wear everyday; and if it begins with second-hand clothing I’m not going to complain.

I can’d resist ending this post with a link to “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore. I’m not a big fan his music — honestly, this song was the first time I’d heard him — but it sticks in my head everytime I’m scouring the racks.

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  • I’ve been calling it “The Sal,” which I picked up on a cd list. You’re not alone. I sometimes feel like I’m taking clothes away from someone who truly needs it, but I also give back ~ if something doesn’t fit it goes back to The Sal or to the clothing swap.

    Funny thing ~ I can’t imagine wearing used men’s clothing. I’m fine with used women’s clothing. At the swaps, we don’t call it “old” clothing ~ we call it new-to-me clothing.

    • I don’t let myself be too bothered by the “taking clothes away” feeling. As I said, there are three stores conveniently near me, and they always seem to have tons of clothing on hand. I might be taking one particular piece away from someone else, but they can always wear the shirt next to it :).

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