Tag Archives: Thrifting Tips

Thrifty Living: The Thrifting Basket

15 Aug

Today I wanted to let you in on a secret. Well, it’s not a secret really, but it is a trick of the trade–the thrifting trade. When you go on as many thrifting expeditions as I do you figure out some ways to make your life easier. I’m going to share a few things with you over the course of several posts that I have learned along the way, starting with the most important: the thrifting basket.*

In the photo above you can see this basket in use. I took this photo on the floor at Goodwill after realizing that I never really see people hauling their own baskets with to thrift stores or yard sales.

You may have had the experience of traipsing through an estate sale, clutching the awesome things you’ve found to your chest while futilely attempting to grab more second-hand goodness. Estate sales are the worst in this regard, as they usually offer nothing in the way of bags or carts to help you carry your wares. Sometimes they’ll offer you a box if there are some left over from moving the previous occupant, but more likely than not, you are on your own.

Thrift stores are hardly better. My favorite thrift store has the worst selection of baskets. The handle comes up right in the middle, leaving you in inconvenient ring of space to store your goods.

Somewhere along the line I got tired of all this so I started bringing my own basket. I’ve bought many a thrifted basket before so I can tell you they are both abundant and quite cheap. The basket I use, however, came from my late Nana. It’s weirdly shaped in a way that I find not at all attractive but its angled handle is perfectly ergonomic. The flat side rests against my body while the handle settles neatly in the crook of my arm.

A basket is ideal for me because I felt that carrying a large bag or stuffing my finds into a purse would look suspicious, even though I of course plan to pay for everything. A basket is not without risks. Sometimes, when you are not looking, someone may slip a fugly piece of basketball memorabilia into your basket. Scott.

We recently added another wicker member to our family of thrifting baskets. And by “we” I of course mean “Isobel.”

As you might imagine, Isobel goes thrifting with me quite often. Now that she’s old enough to walk beside me I ditched the much-coveted-but-difficult-to-both-find-and-steer cart and she walks beside me. The last time we went she made a beeline for this tan basket covered in yellow flowers. I hoped it was going to be something she abandoned easily, but she held onto that basket with a death grip, and I soon saw why.

She has decided that this basket is her thrifting basket.

She followed me around the store, carrying her thrifting basket, grabbing stuff off the shelves. She wasn’t grabbing just anything–you could tell by the way she looked over it, frowning in concentration, examining it in detail. If it passed whatever toddler rubric she employed, into the basket it went.

By the time I was ready to leave the store she had collected a plastic peach, a set of wooden heart-shaped knickknacks, and, mysteriously, a sealed jar of water containing a single seashell.

When we got to the counter I told the perplexed cashier that we’d take the basket, but not the stuff inside. In addition to being useful, the basket made a great toy, apparently, because she played with it all the way home. (And picked off many of the flowers, as you can see.)

Most thrift stores are used to seeing me with my thrifting basket these days, but I still occasionally have to tell people that it’s mine so they don’t charge me for it.

(*The “Babies” book, by Gyo Fujikawa, appearing in the top photo, is one of Isobel’s favorite books and a fantastic find altogether. It was groundbreaking in 1963 because it was one of the first books to show babies of multiple races playing and growing together. I highly recommend it and all of Fujikawa’s works.)