Thrift stores are dangerous places. I'm not just talking about the army of germs that roams freely through the merchandise waiting to infect those who go in unarmed with hand sanitizer, or the real possibility of slicing your hand open while digging in the clearance bin all because someone carelessly tossed aside a dolphin shaped glass candy dish that exploded on contact. The danger I'm talking about is nothing so obvious. No, this is much more insidious, stealthy even. The danger lies in the allure of...possibilities.
As a crafter, and a fan of Martha Stewart when it suits me, thrift stores, second hand stores, even garage sales are indeed highly dangerous. I have to prepare myself before entering. I know what my goal is, I remind myself of my target and vow to not stray away from it. I gird my loins, bypassing the carts that I know I will have no need of and march bravely past the registers and into the heart of unknown finds.
I start out at a brisk pace but it doesn't take long for that musty smell of old books, mildewed clothes and long forgotten tchotchkes to envelope me, fogging my brain. My target starts to waver a bit and before I know what's happening, I find myself wandering the book aisles. It's just a detour. "What could it hurt?" I reason with myself. After all, I buy books anyway, might as well buy them at a discount.
When I am satisfied that I have read every title available and plucked out a few that will fit perfectly on my overflowing bookshelf, I finally move on. First through the shoes where, even though they almost never have a pair in my size that has any sole left, I eye every pair. I can't help but steal a glance at the furniture which is next to the shoe aisle. I have no room for anything in my house but if I found the right piece--the one that just needs some paint, maybe a few screws, perhaps a replaced slat of wood--I would find a place for it.
I do have enough will power to skip past the electronics section but that only leads to the glass trinkets. I can feel my knees go weak as I get closer. I used to be able to justify shopping down this aisle because I could find stuff for the crafts I would sell, but not anymore. I have no reason to go down this aisle and yet, I find I am too weak to resist. What if I found a bride and groom figurine to add to my collection? What if I really do have a use for that elephant pitcher that pours through the trunk? Maybe I'll find an abandoned set of china in just the right pattern that they're selling at a steal?
The wood aisle is actually worse because I know that with a little paint, many of those discarded shelves and plaques could actually be cute. They have potential. That candle holder is broken on the bottom? Put a flower ring around it. That wall sign has a crack in the corner? Glue a few decorative buttons on to cover it. There isn't anything I can't improve with a little bit of paint and hot glue.
I don't dare go past the baskets, that's just tempting fate. They are my Achilles heel. I am a strong, intelligent woman but I can be brought down by a clever wicker weave. See, I don't have to have a use for a basket for it to worm it's way into my hot little hands. It's as if they have a secret password into my brain--they know how to call out and tempt me until I am helpless to do anything but take them home and add them to the pile of baskets that have escaped from the forgotten bins of the second hand store and have been adopted into my welcoming home.
By this time, I've had to go and get a cart because my arms are turning purple from trying to balance all the items that I feel too guilty to leave behind. After all, if I won't give them a home, who will? If I'm lucky and I manage to shake out of that dust-induced coma, I will skip past all the ladies' clothing racks. Being an average size girl of average build there will be tons of garments for me to choose from as long as I'm willing to invest in some bleach, Spray 'n' Wash, and a few buttons to replace those that have popped off.
The guilt of pushing a loaded down cart up to the register when I only meant to spend five minutes in the store is soon forgotten as I realize that several of the items I picked out have the correct color of tag for the half-off discount. Half off what was already a great price? Can it get any better than this?
As I load my treasures into my car, the fresh air seeps into my muddled brain and the fog starts to lift. I sober considerably at the thought of having to explain to my husband why these particular items were just too big of bargains to not buy. It's only when I'm pulling out of the parking lot--my bank account emptied, the smell of an old person's attic permeating my entire van--that I remember that I was only supposed to run up to the store to find my son a pair of pants and I never even looked at the kids' clothing.
The thrift store defeated me again.