Get A Grip: Taking in guilt-free fun at thrift shops

The Husband says I have a problem.

I prefer to call it a hobby.

I tell him that it could be worse.

I guess you could call me a shop-a-holic but you won't find me in any mall.

I'd rather spend my days rummaging through the boxes and racks of thrift stores than fighting the crowds at Fashion Square.

To my mind, thrift stores are guilt-free fun.

For example, yesterday I was feeling a little restless, so I went over to the Salvation Army store on Beale Street.

All of the clothing in the store was on sale for 99 cents.

So after about a half-hour of sifting through racks of every imaginable type of clothing – and, since I was there, looking at all the other gee-gaws, and gadgets for sale – I emerged with a Merino wool sweater set and a book.

My bill? $1.24.

I liken thrift shopping to treasure hunting.

If you look long and hard enough, you can find, in among the polyester pants sets and tattered T-shirts, a beautiful shantung silk jacket that's just your size.

There are, I tell The Husband, many benefits to thrift store shopping.

The most obvious are the great deals.

Had I purchased my sweater set and book at the mall, for example, I would have spent at least $40, probably more.

Beyond this, I rationalize to myself, the money spent at most thrift stores goes to benefit charity.

AND, to add to the benevolence of my hobby, it is a form of recycling – this is stuff that won't be littering the desert or stuffed into a landfill.

Plus, it's fun to find treasure hidden among junk.

My favorite finds are vintage clothes, especially old dresses from the 1930s.

Art deco items are also favorites.

It's also fun to see the different types of items found at thrift stores in different regions of the country.

In California I often found designer clothes.

In Oregon I found lots of great Pendleton shirts.

In Las Vegas I found a great lounge singer suit.

Here in Kingman I've found some wonderful old cowboy shirts, pearl snaps and all.

A couple of years ago I found an old beauty shop chair at the ARC thrift store on Airway Avenue.

The gold-toned dryer chair came complete with a footrest and an ashtray in the arm.

It also worked perfectly.

My brother-in-law helped me install lights in the dryer hood and now I've got a funky reading chair that I love.

As my house gets too crammed with my treasures, I've begun to attempt zero-accumulation.

By this I mean that for everything new I buy, I try to donate something else I no longer want or need.

Just last week, to my utter delight and The Husband's despair, I discovered a whole new world of thrift shopping on the Internet.

Goodwill.com.

Goodwill industries operate some of the best and largest thrift stores in the country, but until now you were limited to shopping a store near you.

No more.

Goodwill stores all over submit items for auction on Goodwill.com which operates ebay style.

While it's not as much fun as actual rummaging, virtual thrift store shopping can still satisfy my need to paw through other people's closets.

Today I checked in to see which items' auction times were coming due.

Here's what I found:

Adidas cologne

Fur coats

Snakeskin boots by Tony Lama (current bid $31.89)

Prada bags

A quilt

Watches

Diamond cuff links (current bid $15.9)

An accordion

An Army shaving kit from 1904

A 1915 edition of the Chicago Tribune (banner headline reads: Berlin must yield or break with U.S.)

Cameras

An Atari game system with games

Elvis 8 tracks

Nixon inaugural cuff links

Treasures, treasures and more treasures.

Must dash.

Auction on the Atari ends in 9 minutes.

It's for charity, of course.