THRIFT STORE CONFIDENTIAL™ is a gently-used resource for learning how to free yourself from the overwhelming cost of clothing, accessories, furniture and housewares by engaging your creativity and ingenuity. You’ll look great, break free from the herd, and, importantly, benefit those in need along the way.
Whether you’re a Salvation Army Veteran or a Second-Hand Virgin, you’ll find a great wealth of information on where to shop, how to shop, what to look for and how to make it work for you.
Through regular posts and webisodes on subjects ranging from fashion, furniture and philosophy to store spotlights, laundry tips and creating your own signature style, the TSC team will walk you through the nittygritty of second-hand delights. Special guests will include actual real life lovely people, celebrities, stylists, tailors, cobblers and a vast array of colorful characters who represent the big blue world outside of the mall!
Who We Are
My name is Nicole Poole. I’m a professional actor, voiceover artist, audiobook narrator and life-long thrift store shopper. I grew up in Oklahoma, raised by my grandmother, who lived through the Great Depression, and my mother, a single working woman with four children. Both women were “strong as lye soap,” and remarkably inventive when it came to being frugal. Grandma made her own clothes and many of mine, and my Mom supplemented the rest through thrift stores. Mom and I used to have “cashmere races,” and from her tutelage, since the age of 4 I have been able to pick out cashmere faster than you can swipe a credit card.
Though it is always a badge of pride in my family to announce how little we’ve paid for beautiful items, there was always a certain stigma attached to our shopping sprees; although we enjoyed finding such amazing things for so little money, it was, sadly, a source of shame that we “had” to buy our clothes second-hand. We knew women who would rather die than be seen in a Goodwill or Salvation Army, and to this day I hear shopkeepers tell of women who insist on either parking in the back, OR bribing clerks to come in after hours so that no one will see them shopping. Does this sound like someone you know?
I’m here to tell you, right now, that THERE IS NO SHAME in being a savvy shopper! Any fool can spend money. It takes creativity and intelligence to know what you want and go find it without breaking your budget to do so.
The TSC Team includes stylists, actresses, jewelry designers arts administrators and of course my beloved friend Ian Bjorklund, travel coordinator, theater director, raconteur and decorator extraordinaire, who is almost always with me, arm in arm, on devilish and dashing thrift store adventures.
Why We’re Here
I began writing about thrift store shopping a couple of years ago, at the height of the recession, and of my own Great Depression. Circumstance found me fairly bereft of joy and income, and I spent a lot of time searching on the net for how to maintain a joyful standard of living. Though there are a lot of great sites out there (see our Links!), I thought I could add a few things with my own voice and expertise that some folks hadn’t heard before. Basically, I found myself writing to a faceless person, somewhere, searching for the same things I am.
Responses started coming in faster than I could keep up with them, so here we are. Thanks to you, Thrift Store Confidential is growing. I’m playing catchup with technology at the same time that I’m writing, producing and researching for the site (in addition to trying to earn a living with my career), so please forgive me if a few things are clunky here and there. Regardless, I feel you’ll find a wealth of information here that might just help you live the good life, trust fund or no.
I also am playing to my strengths as a person well-versed in the world of advertising, to swing for the fences and bring as many people into the fold of second-hand delights as I possibly can.
I live in New York City and adore fashion. I don’t always hit the mark, but I pay attention and do take some pride in how I put myself together. But as a professional voiceover artist and fledgling painter with no trust fund (sigh), sometimes I just can’t afford the clothes I want to wear, or the furnishings that reflect my personal style. Lo and Behold, there are miles and miles of thrift, charity and consignment shops in the Big Apple, and the most fashionable people in the city can be seen shopping in them on any given day! When I go back to Oklahoma to visit family, I scour the racks in the local shops, finding deals on things New Yorkers would absolutely go bonkers over, mainly because thrift stores are places that most savvy shoppers wouldn’t even consider walking into! I used to think this was perfectly fine…(more for me!); but with so many affected by the recession, my conscience started getting to me – so now I’m taking my strange little skill set public, with the hopes that a lot of folks can benefit from what has become my area of expertise.
I am complimented on my clothing, shoes and accessories many times a day – from Abercrombie to Zara and everything in between, all the way to Chanel, Choo, Louboutin and Prada, the best pieces in my wardrobe have come from thrift stores, and I guarantee I’ve paid less for them than a single J Crew sweater.
Finally, almost everyone I know is in debt. Not just itty bitty debt, but DEBT. Each time I’m complemented on an item of clothing, I’ll proudly announce the paltry amount I paid for it, and where I got it. I’ve had hundreds of people who look beautifully put together take me aside and ask me how I do it. It finally dawned on me that the need is here – this little skill set has grown from a hobby into an obsession and I’m passionate about passing what I know on to you. I’m putting up money and time I don’t have because I believe that it’s high time to take the shame out of second-hand shopping. It’s like the best game you’ve ever played, and it benefits absolutely everyone.
Looking Great, Doing Good
One of my favorite places to shop is a lovely organization called Housing Works. Proceeds from Housing Works thrift stores and used book cafes go to benefit men and women living with AIDS – for me, this one’s personal. My sister, Alexis, died in 1993 at the height of the epidemic, and anything that makes life better for people who suffer from this terrible disease is a top priority in my book. Almost all thrift stores benefit some charitable or community organization; from Goodwill and the Salvation Army to Angel Street, Spence Chapin, Cancer Care, Arthritis Foundation…they all provide vital service and support to underfunded causes, and they put my hard-earned money to good use.
Finally, by shopping in thrift stores, you also help out local business owners; cleaners, tailors and cobblers. For pennies on the dollar, you can tailor and refurbish high quality items exactly to your liking, and they will last you years longer than spur-of-the-moment impulse items that fall apart after one season.
Now don’t get me wrong; our big chain stores are fantastic, but I reserve them for things like bedding and lingerie (and with the money I save on clothing, I can afford to treat myself to little luxuries from time to time!). However, Thrift Store Confidential is all about keeping it local and supporting Mom & Pop businesses and community organizations in your area, so ditch the mall for a while, and come play with us! Your pocketbook, and your local economy, will thank you!
The economic crisis has hurt everyone in very real ways; however, Americans are known for our inventiveness and ingenuity, and our ability to make lemonade out of some awfully sour lemons. So, while things seem to be (knock wood) on the upswing, for many the reality is still extremely bleak. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up. Take heart, brave warriors. Help is here.
Please take a moment to subscribe to Thrift Store Confidential, and share the information with your friends. Together, we might just be able to help turn things around – for ourselves, and for this lovely country that needs a little home-grown care.
Thanks a bunch.
All our very best,
Nicole and the Thriftstore Confidential Team