Shopping at thrift stores is for people who have more time than money. To show you what I mean, please refer to this garish infographic that I spent all night making. If your green (money) lines are lower than your orange (time) lines, then thrift store shopping might be right for you!
As the graph shows, in my late twenties I experienced a brief span of having more money than time. I actually bought clothes and stuff brand-new, at fully-staffed retail outlets with working bathrooms. It felt so indulgent: The dressing rooms had mirrors and the price tags weren’t stapled to the clothes. I didn’t even have to check the sweaters for burn holes.
Then my two youngest were born in quick succession, and suddenly I had neither time nor money, but — perhaps out of boredom — the urge to thrift grew even stronger.
Most kids won’t fight a trip to the thrift store. It provides endless stimulation and lots of new smells. Now that they’re too big to be strapped down, I let them play with whatever they find in the toy aisle… Until I get a friendly reminder from the manager that the toy aisle isn’t a drop-off day care center. To maximize my scavenging time, I decided to give the kids jobs. “Go find mommy a giant bra!” or, “See which one of you can find the most disturbing clown figurine!” Guess what? It worked! No longer were they playing hide-and-seek in the plus-sized men’s pants, they were busy discovering the magic and wonder of second-hand retail.
As a public service to the other Scavengers with bored children or spouses, I’ve developed a Thrift Store Scavenger Hunt, guaranteed to give you at least 45 minutes of carefree shopping time.
INSTRUCTIONS: Print out this FREE scavenger hunt form and hand out to your whiny spouse or children:
THRIFT STORE SCAVENGER HUNT (downloadable PDF)
Give each player a time limit and a shopping cart. When you have finished your shopping, add up the points and give the winner a special prize, like a half-used bottle of hand lotion. Each time you play, encourage your little scavengers to take their game to the next level.
BEGINNER SCAVENGER: RACCOON (0-10 points)
INTERMEDIATE SCAVENGER: BLACK BEAR (10-20 points)
ADVANCED SCAVENGER: VULTURE (20-30 points)
MASTER SCAVENGER: HYENA (30+ points)
Now, let’s start scavenging! Below is a preview of the items and their point values…
BOOKS AND MUSIC:
- Microwave cookbook ①
- Church cookbook ①
- 100% non-English cookbook ①
- [Anything] for Dummies ①
- Chicken Soup for [Anybody’s] Soul ①
- Outdated Pregnancy, Baby, or Parenting Books (1 point for each decade old)
- Christmas Album ①
- Polka Album ①
- Vintage Striptease or Erotic Polka Album ②
- Tupperware in the shape of food it’s containing ①
- Coffee mug expressing frustration at having to work ①
- Coffee cup expressing ethnic pride ②
- Jell-O mold in the shape of an aquatic animal ①
- Someone’s crappy art project being resold as a legitimate, food safe container ①
- Taco Holder ②
- Sheer, lacy, “grandma” curtains ①
- Clown-themed porcelain figurines ①
- Framed portrait of Pope John Paul II ①
- Framed portrait of Pope Benedict ⑩
- Any furniture seen on the set of the “Golden Girls” ①
- Antique Furniture re-upholstered in Muppet fur ②
- TVs more than a foot thick ①
- TVs more than two feet thick ②
- Grab bag of cables, wires or chargers ①
- Grooming appliances that Mommy used in 8th grade ①
- Unsealed pack of adult diapers ①
- Sealed pack of adult diapers ②
- Bra sized 32-AA to 44-DD ①
- Bra sized 44-DDD to 58-J* ②
- A real Muu-Muu dress** ①
- A Bridesmaid’s Dress ①
- A Wedding Dress ③
- Three-ring binder albums ①
- Albums with photos still in them ②
- 3½-inch floppy disks ①
- 5¼-inch floppy disks ②
- 8-inch floppy disks ③
- Corded telephones with giant numbers ①
- Electric typewriters ①
TOYS / CHILDREN:
- Disney Princess Sleeping bag ①
- Assortment of plastic toys in a sealed plastic bag ①
- Dolls that are missing either a shoe or a whole foot ①
- Board games that reinforce outdated gender stereotypes ②
- Trophies ① (Bonus points available for oldest trophy, most obscure sport, and furthest location)
- Golf clubs ①
- Baseball or golf cap bearing the name of an alcoholic beverage ①
- Find a thing you already own that you probably bought new at IKEA
- Find a group of unrelated items in a pile and create a theme. For example: Suitcases on top of Foosball on top of patio furniture = Vacation Fun?
- Untangle all the vacuum cleaner cords
- Locate a working and sanitary bathroom.
* I looked it up, 58-J is the largest bra size on earth.
** The plural of Muu-Muu is Muu-Muu.