DEBBIE NORRELL

I made my first trip to Martha’s Vineyard right after Labor Day as part of the Sisters and Friends annual trip. This was year 11 for Sisters and Friends but a first visit for me. I was on their schedule to present one of my “thrift store” fashion shows to about 100 ladies. Just the thought of thrift shopping gets me excited. I did most of my shopping before I left Pittsburgh and was able to round out the show with a few pieces found on Martha’s Vineyard. I presented nine pieces that totaled $36. Some of the ladies who were attending Sisters and Friends volunteered to be models in the show. In a few weeks you will get to see the pictures in the Courier from that week and learn more about the group and how you can also participate.

I promised the ladies some tips on successful thrift shopping. As you know, this type of shopping is not for the faint of heart and all thrift stores are not created equal. I was able to visit two thrift stores in Martha’s Vineyard but I must tell you, Pittsburgh thrift stores put theirs to shame. I guess I need to understand that the population on the island is not like a big city and people are not donating ball gowns and dressy clothing.

The one thing I did find interesting is you can go to the thrift store and sometimes find free furniture. I saw two wing back chairs that I would have snatched in a minute if I had a way to get them home. The other thing that I found funny was an antique store that was working on the honor system. The store has closed for the season but they left a large amount of merchandise outside of the store with prices. I noticed a medicine cabinet for $10 and also a table for $10. All you had to do was leave the money in the box and take the item. I rode by the store at least three times and the merchandise did not disappear.

Now back to those thrift store tips. When you are shopping look the item over well. Check for moth holes and stains. The last thing you want to do is bring home moths. Often the reason something is in a thrift store is because it is stained and the previous owner could not get the stain out. Now that you are the new owner of the item you are going to have to guess what the stain is and then work on getting it out. I don’t have any magic potion on stain removal; if I did I would be rich. If the store has a dressing room, use it. Don’t go by the size on the label. Another reason clothes have been given away is because they don’t fit or they have been improperly laundered. In short, the clothes have shrunk. There is a lot of hidden treasure out there but if you don’t need it, leave it for someone else. More Sisters and Friends to come.

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