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We're tired. Take us for a ride...

lise funderburg

Post your stories and lists of fabulous finds! And consider entering our listener "ride" contest. We'd love to hear your thoughts on thrift stores, thrifting, Gospel music, mission life, mission work - or any other response to this episode. Email us at theride@npr.org. Please give us your first name and tell us where you're writing from. Of course, we also like to get mail the old-fashioned way. Write us at: National Public Radio, Along For The Ride, 635 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001.

"My husband, to say the least, was a bit shocked when I came home with a..."
From: Jenny in Tennesee
Sent: Sunday, June 03, 2001 9:39 PM

I, too, have a regular route of thrift stores I go by every week or so, mostly looking for Mid-century Modern design, particularly ceramics, such as Fiesta. But sometimes I head there with specific needs. On one trip, looking for a Brownie uniform for my daughter, 8, I spotted a rosewood frame boomerang sofa. I think I went 50 feet across the store in one step, grabbed one of the triangle-shape back cushions and ran to the checkout to buy the sofa ($30) before anyone else could. My husband, to say the least, was a bit shocked when I came home with a 12-foot sofa hanging out the open hatch of the Ford Explorer rather than a little girl's Scouting uniform.

"...when I put them on, they were a bit tight but hey...they..were...free..!"
From: Ann in AZ
Sent: Friday, June 01, 2001 2:01 PM

This is the story of my favorite shoes right now. They're a pair of black pleather, thick-soled sandals, size 6 1/2. They don't fit and give me blood blisters. But I wear them everyday because I can't get over the fact that I found them in a dumpster.

Every year when the university gets out, I head for the dumpsters around campus. Students get wasteful after finals when they just want to get the hell out of town. They throw out all sorts of good stuff: laundry detergent, shampoo, clothes..everything that can't fit into their car and mom and dad can replace once they get home. Over the three years I've been doing this, I've learned a few things. 1)Go early because you are not the only one with a brilliant idea. 2) Some dumpsters are better than others. People is sororities and fraternities are the most wasteful. Dumpster diving is the only time when I really appreciate Kappas, Tri-Delts and Gamma Gammas. It's the only time when if I stepped outside myself, I would hate me. I recycle. Recyclers' trash sucks. Back to the story.

I went out the sorority dorms close to my boyfriend's house. I must have looked a little bit funny. I was filling up my 1993 Ford Explorer. The girl's dumpster had all kinds of useful things. I won't have to by any feminine hygiene products for the rest of the summer.

Technically, the shoes weren't really in the dumpster. They were perched on the side of it. Some Kappa Delta probably figured she was "doing the right thing" and giving her shoes to someone in need. She was right. I always need new shoes. So I took them. They weren't worn and looked brand new. I felt so lucky! When I put them on, they were a bit tight but hey...they..were...free!

So now I suffer. The shoes are a badge of my stinginess. I show them off to anyone who will listen. "Look what I got out of a dumpster!" It adds grittiness to my personality. It gives me street cred with my punk rock friends. I also like to keep people guessing. She roots through trash AND drives an S-U-V? What a contradiction, but as my boyfriend says, "I don't trust anything that makes sense."

I love my new free shoes. They hide my blisters.

"I have to track down that store...!"
From: Annie in DC
Sent: Monday, May 21, 2001 7:08 PM

Congratulations on such a successful program - this is the first segment I've heard. I have to track down that store in Philly!!!

"...gently worn fashions.."
From: Melissa in Winter Park, Florida
Sent: Monday, May 21, 2001 1:52 PM

My first exposure to "thrifting" was a neighbor who purchased a pair of ice skates for her son at low cost from a Goodwill store a few miles from home over thirty years ago. Until then my exposure to Goodwill was knowing they employed the handicapped.

My next experience was working at a women's and children's clothing consignment store for spending money on Saturdays for a school year within walking distance from college. I priced items and bagged unsold clothes to be given to charity.

Two women owned this store and a similar one across town that boasted of "gently worn fashions". Some outfits were expensive classics showing no signs of wear. Everything was wearable as is - no grease stains or clothing with broken zippers.

I was seven months pregnant with my first child when I dropped into a consignment shop with furniture outside. The owner's three children played on the premises and she nursed her toddler while she worked. I bought maternity outfits there from a woman who brought her three week old baby to work with her who moved next door to me thirteen years later.

I continue to buy clothes and household items at consignment shops for reasonable prices. I find especially good items for my home at low cost at estate sales. Occasionally I stop to buy items at garage sales with a few dollars I have in my pocket while on my way to other destinations.

My theory about bargains is that to buy something you neither need or want because it is on sale is a waste of money. Make your list, check it twice, go bargain shopping when you can for serendipitious buys, and enjoy.

"..love the gospel soundtrack.."
From: Anne from Montclair, NJ
Sent: Monday, May 21, 2001 1:08 PM

Great piece from Lisa Funderburg. I especially loved the gospel soundtrack. And, as a frequent visitor to Philadelphia, I was thrilled to learn about the world of thrift in that city. Thanks so much.

"I really love that shop..."
From: Patricia in Philadelphia
Sent: Sunday, May 20, 2001 6:48 AM

Now my favorite local shop has been advertised to all of America, I will really have to fight the crowds. I have been wondering who has been cleaning out the china. I have furniture and clothing (men's shirts for 50 cents really round out a wardrobe).

I really love that shop and appreciate the work that they are doing. As a Germantown resident, I had the opportunity to interact with some of the men in their "before" state. They are invariably polite and customer-oriented.

A couple of Whosoever tales.

1) There is a story floating around that someone purchased a book with an original Thomas Jefferson signature for 50 cents. I heard the story maybe three or four years ago, so it could have been quite a while ago. The signature was sold by the original purchaser for only $500, then made its way to Christie's, or some other auction house.

2) My own favorite experience is a recent one. I went in and purchased several dishes for my chipped china hobby. There was what was clearly a good Christian from a Southern church volunteering in the slums of Philadelphia. The woman looked a bit puzzled at my odd collection of dishes, but continued to smile, even as I said to her not to bother to wrap those dishes, I was intending to break them anyhow.

I thoroughly enjoyed your coverage.

"...we too have a 'circuit' that stretches across the southern part of Louisiana including New Orleans and southern Mississippi.."
From: Craig from Thibodaux, Louisiana
Sent: Sunday, May 20, 2001 12:24 AM

My wife first introduced me to thrifting (kicking and screaming) as a way to get the most of our shopping dollar. Now 15 years later, we too have a "circuit" that stretches across the southern part of Louisiana including New Orleans and southern Mississippi. We still do it to save money, but we simply love it(at least I do) and cannot go into any thrift store without buying something.

The story was great, enjoy you every chance I can.

"My wife and her sisters have the same habits..."
From: Borden of Winston Salem, NC
Sent: Saturday, May 19, 2001 10:06 PM

Hi Lisa,>

My wife and her sisters have the same habits. My wife is the youngest of three girls who were all trained by their mother to shop thrifts and discount stores. My wife is your age and is a Leo as you mentioned in the story. She owns a consignment shop which specializes in plus size clothing called Stepsisters. My oldest sister-in-law is the ultimate thirft store shopper and owns a Shop called Hello Betty which specializes in Vintage Clothing. The middle Sister just shops. She looks primarily for Cheap high Quality Clothing and accesories.