I’ve been volunteering at Sarah’s Cupboard, a resale/thrift shop in Branford. Since some of the regular volunteers are still not able to take on their usual time slots, I’m filling in.
It’s been really interesting to be on the other side of the counter, to watch others do what I usually do when I visit the place; look for that treasure hidden among all the items on display.
I’ve been a hopelessly addicted visitor for the past four or five years — usually twice weekly. During that time, I have found some really nice “treasures”; pieces of pottery, or discarded original art, or something unexpected such as the four modern Italian chairs that I gave to my sons.
The potential for finding something special is what always motivated me to visit, but I realize now that there is also the possibility of finding something very useful at a very reasonable price. Kitchen utensils, for instance, or perfectly usable dinner plates or glasses are always there to be brought to a new home where they can appear on the dinner table a few days later. The idea of reusing someone else’s stuff is not something that a lot of us were raised to consider. Even though I have always thought of buying something new as my first choice, I have come to realize that we probably spend much too much time thinking about replacing old things with new things rather than looking for something that might still have a lot of usefulness but is no longer needed by someone else.
So, being on the other side off the counter has allowed me to observe how wise some shoppers are with respect to finding the things they need, or perhaps just want.
You see, it’s possible to have those special things that might not fit your budget if you were paying full price. Holiday dishes, for instance, or champagne flutes that you may only use on New Year’s Eve.
So I’m beginning to look at things somewhat differently from my new perspective behind the counter. Of course, I had to learn how to maneuver the register and credit card receiver.
I’m doing all right, but I’m not totally reliable yet to be on my own without Sue being close by. But, aside from that, I’m learning just how much our stuff can be put to good or even better use if we think about recycling it. I mean recycling from both ends — as a donor, and as a buyer as well.
I smiled last week at the sense of satisfaction as a customer enjoyed purchasing a pair of lamps. They were beautiful and on sale, and she mused that she thought her daughter would love them. Or the guy who bought two perfectly good suits and spent very little in the process.
So what is it I’m getting at? Perhaps we should be more open to considering the possibility of replacing those things that we have grown tired of with some things that someone else has grown tired of.
Of course, you probably will always want to buy a nice new couch to replace the one that now sags when you sit on it, but you might want to think about purchasing some accessories that came from some other home.
And for those who treasure the retro vibe this is the place. There are no better places to satisfy your interest in the sixties than a place like Sarah’s. Think about the perfectly preserved lava lamp or “leaded glass” hanging light fixture.
It can be fun, and of course, everything goes to serve a very grateful clientele.