Unexpected Thrills of Shopping Seconhand

This week I bought a budgie cage from Gumtree for Posy's birthday. From a man who is quite the jolly vendor.

Turns out, I could have bought one for exactly the same price at the pet shop. So, life lesson for this week: it pays to research before buying secondhand. However, I prevented one more budgie cage from being manufactured or sent to landfill, and I got to meet John the comic, which was more fun than going to Pet Barn. Also, on the way home I visited an op shop in a part of town I never get to. Often, op shops seem a tad overpriced to me, but this one is brilliant. Everything is very reasonably priced, and I found such treasure (for Launceston locals, it was the Mission shop in Prospect. Give them time to restock after I cleaned them out).

First, a plaid wool blanket ($4) to keep me warm while reading on my bed. I washed this on the wool cycle in my front loader this week, and dried it on the line. It smells of lavender oil and sunshine now, and is doing sterling service encouraging me to be idle:)

Cheerful pure cotton sheets for Posy ($2.50 each).

Next, my children enjoy breaking and chipping drinking glasses. I think it is a hobby. Anyway, most of our collection was Nutino glasses (Nutella ripoff) which I am not buying anymore due to our household sugar ban. I absolutely love these French and Turkish cafe-style glasses (20c each) which are thick and sturdy, and hopefully less likely to succumb to the vicissitudes of everyday life at Chez Blueday.

I also found these milkshake glasses, ($1 each) which exactly match two we already own. I am planning cheap and healthy home-made milk shakes this summer, made with this brilliant, cheap and delicious home made chocolate syrup (ok, yes. There is rather a lot of sugar in this. But, it is a once-a-week treat. Sugary treats now consist of one treat, one dessert, and one batch of baking per week, as a balancing act between mummy's dietary fanaticism, and a normal childhood..)

Four white side plates (20c each). See note above. The children like to crash these together while unpacking the dishwasher. I only ever buy white, or blue-and-white crockery so that everything always matches. Because, yes, I am a control freak.

Adorable spotty bowl for Rosy to keep all her hair bands in (50c). I saw this exact bowl in Target last year, and desperately wanted to buy it for her, but just couldn't bring myself to, due to giant warehouse rage. I feel smugly vindicated. Putting this away for Christmas.

I also found a book my mum wants for 20c, and a copy of The Shipping News, a book I have wanted to read since I watched the movie a few years ago (love, love both).

So, very happy about my charity shop haul, and even though I was ripped off by Gumtree John, I more than recouped the cost of the budgie cage by savings at the Mission shop. You know, I am someone who hates shopping. I hate fitting it into a day where I could otherwise be gardening, visiting friends or reading a book. Many years ago when we were on a strict budget, I shopped charity shops for all the kids' clothes and lots of our furniture, but that went out the window as The Man began to earn more. It became so convenient just to drive to Target, pick up whatever I wanted with very little thought or pain, whilst pushing down those worrisome thoughts about the impact this habit was having on the state of the planet, let alone the terrible waste of so much of The Man's life energy that was being turned into money just so I could buy another lamp..

And yet I convinced myself that the Target habit was easier, that it's really inconvenient to shop second hand, traipsing from charity shop to garage sale to Gumtree pick up. However, I have had a lot of fun this week, hunting for treasure, meeting Crazy John. It adds a little adventuresome flavour to life to do something different, to not get what you expect, but maybe find something else you need, or something that delights you that you had no idea you even yearned for.

I read this Leunig poem to the girls this week, and I think it captures the left-of-field, surprising nature of second hand shopping:

God give us rain when we expect sun.
Give us music when we expect trouble.
Give us tears when we expect breakfast.
Give us dreams when we expect a storm.
Give us a stray dog when we expect congratulations.
God play with us, turn us sideways and around.

from A Common Prayer

Maybe the unexpectedness of shopping away from the big box stores will make me braver, more resourceful, more willing to laugh in the face of soulless convenience, more creative, more human.

But let's not get carried away. Not being in control makes me a bit anxious and grumpy. At least as anxious and grumpy as I am when parking in one of those multi-storey car parks.. which maybe I will never have to do again.. because op shops don't tend to have them..


Ah well, what you lost on the budgie cage you made up for with the other stuff. Some great finds. I totally agree that buying and selling secondhand makes for far more quirky interactions than you get in IKEA or the like. I always get glasses at charity shops - my kids are like yours. And I am subversively (because husband doesn't like willow pattern) converting all my crockery to willow pattern for the reason that it is easily replaceable (yes, I did say, my kids are like yours) from charity shops and I like that non-Spode or collectable willow pattern is very untrendy and slightly redolent of old people's homes. I too, laugh in the face of fashion and soulless convenience!
Anonymous said…
I love your finds, especially the blanket. I always have an eye out for glassware whenever I go to a thrift shop. I currently like untrendy 70s stuff. I literally started reading The Shipping News eight times before I could bring myself to finish it - at the prompting of my then book club! And of course I ended up liking it. Have seen the movie as well. Just this week I saw another movie set in Newfoundland, the remake of The Grand Seduction. You'd like it!
CJ said…
I love a secondhand bargain, and that wool blanket is wonderful, well done you. I know what you mean about giant warehouses - save us all from their horrors. CJ xx
Judy said…
Love your secondhand stuff, especially the blanket! All practical, useful and good quality things that will make you smile every time you look at them :-)
Jo said…
Sara, I love your subversive crockery changeover program! I love the willow pattern too. Also stripes, dots, or any other design so long as it is blue and white. It makes a fun collection.
Dar, thanks for the movie recommendation. I literally knew nothing about Newfoundland before The Shipping News, other than that the vikings had been there.. and yes, the beginning of the book is quite dark, but gets so much better, which of course is the point of the plot, but maybe there ought to be a reassuring message at the beginning to that effect:)
CJ and Judy, yes, loving my new blankie, and loving that they are completely guilt-free acquisitions.
Anonymous said…
What a haul! I bet that blanket is 100% wool and Australian made!

Maybe the bird cage is of better quality than a new one? (You know me. Always looking for the positive.)

As to glasses and offspring (I can't say kids anymore. Mine are too old) chipping them. Here's another tip. Don't buy tall, narrow glasses. They don't stand up in the dishwasher and offspring don't care enough to make sure they won't fall onto other glassware and crockery. And offspring won't handwash well enough to get milk residue ring off the bottom.

Hmmm, what do I mean offspring. Mr S is just as bad.
Good stuff Jo! The op shop gods were obviously smiling on you that day. I'm a long term op shoper and have seen the changes come along. Around us, op shops have turned into mini supermarkets with prices to match so I'm always looking for something like the one you found. In those places you feel like it might actually be helping a charity too not a commercial enterprise. I've given the big supermarkets and target the flick too! cheers Wendy
Jo said…
Lucinda, it IS wool and Australian made (in about 1952 I expect!). And yes, I just buy glasses that are built like bricks and cross my fingers..
Wendy, I will be following your lead on cutting out the big supermarkets too.. right now I'm down to buying only the cats' favourite food at Coles - because I can't find it anywhere else!
i love your new blanket, especially if it now smells of lavender and sunshine :-)
i used to love shopping but now can't afford it very much, but also i realise i pretty much have all that i need. my goodness, i have turned into my mother :-)
Jo said…
Ha ha, yes, that happens:)
Anonymous said…
We HAVE multi story car parks in Launceston?! Well blow me down! Thrift shopping is great fun. The best bit is that no-one expects you to buy, you get to have a great chinwag with the person behind the counter who is probably a work-for-the-dole "volunteer" and most grateful for the interruption and you get to find the most AMAZING things... sometimes...the smugness quotient is hard to resist as well, especially when you get better quality items than you can rightly imagine affording at one eighth of the price (or less) than the cheap and inferior quality things you can buy brand new from those heinous department stores (SWINES!)Off to Exeter today. Might just indulge myself in a spot of thrift shopping ;)
Jo said…
Of course we do Fran, next to Target! Hope you found some great bargains:)

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