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Thrifting: A Family Tradition

Hi, I’m Sarah Gott, an Arts educator and freelance artist and upcycler who has a passion for everything recycled, handmade or vintage. I’m teaming up with Goodwill to chat with you about projects and ideas I’ve not only worked on in my home, but around town and in the classroom. 

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Spring is the best time of year, isn’t it?  While I do enjoy the nicer weather and the days growing longer and warmer, it has more to do with the fact that it is the start of thrifting season! There is nothing better than waking up early on a Saturday and heading to a rummage sale, thrift store or flea market.

This love of thrifting started at an early age. When I was around 6 or 7, my mom ran a flower shop in Medina and my dad worked for the county so I stayed at my grandparents’ house during the day when I wasn’t in school.

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My grandma filled their home with carefully selected pieces that were always so perfectly put together no one would ever guess that she thrifted quite a bit of it. Her outfits, home décor, and DIY furniture were so stylish that even at a young age, I couldn’t help but find her fascinating, and I truly enjoyed spending time at her home.

I always looked forward the afternoons she would ask if my brother or sisters and me would like to go “treasure hunting.” She’d grab her running list of items she wanted to find, then we’d grab some snacks, load into her beige Crown Victoria, and head out, hopeful the thrifting God’s would grace us with bountiful gems. Putting $5 in our hands, she’d send us off to explore.

Of course, I would usually buy toys with the money she gave me. One that I still have and that I am saving for my future child is my doll, Kate. I’m not sure what it was about her, perhaps her gorgeous curly red hair or her perfect 1980’s laced dress but I was drawn to her immediately and I have loved her ever since.

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She always had useful advice about thrifting, which I still use today. She said to go often so you can stay up-to-date on what’s new, and go on like a Wednesday when there are not as many people and the shelves are more likely to be filled. Have a running list of things you want to find so you don’t buy stuff that you don’t need, and think outside of the box when looking for items you could repurpose.

She believed that if you were true to yourself and only purchased quality items, you’d discover your style and be able to fill your home with things you truly love. It doesn’t matter if someone has used it before or that you found it at the bottom of a bin. There was a story behind it and you could give it new life and make it your own.

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Now that I’m older and she has passed, I find myself in the aisle of thrift stores feeling that connection to her. There is an internal spark I get when I find a deal. It’s like a gift she has bestowed on me. Whether it’s now shopping with my Mom, or project I’m working on for a client, or something I’ve upcycled for my home, I hear her voice or remember the times we spent in the exact same place so many years ago. I truly believe her influence fuels a large part of my style, creativity and drive as an artist and maker. I am forever grateful for that.

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