Tis the season to shop smarter, not harder

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As Black Friday dawned early I purchased — nothing. Frankly, unless there is a doorbuster on groceries or utility bills, I see no need to camp out overnight just to shop. I’m just not a shiv-a-person-for-a-television kind of shopper. Now, a really good KitchenAid mixer? Maybe. Those things are awesome.

As a shopper, I have two modes: completely local, or online. The local hardware, farm market or butcher is just about perfect for me. When it comes to on-foot shopping, I prefer a human-sized store. What they don’t carry, some nice online store probably does. The suburban big box stores are what I cut out of the equation. If the store has to warn me to avoid the forklifts or pallet jacks in the aisles, I am out. No thank you.


I make no secret of the fact that I refuse to pay full retail if it can be avoided. Our entire home is furnished in Early Auction meets Thrift Chic. I just don’t get the thrill from new that I do from gently used goods.

Even our home, at over 120 years old, is used. It was also a little rough around the edges when we purchased it two decades ago. So it could be said to be thrifted too if by thrift you mean spending lots of money over the years to polish her up. Granted, it’s now priceless to me, so that’s worth something too.


The recent lettuce recall has little impact on me. I buy from our neighbors, hardworking farmers with their own greenhouse. Their leafy green homegrown goodness has yet to be recalled. Most of my produce comes from them. Our meat comes from one of two local butchers at a better price and quality than the mega-mart shopping center can provide.

I realize this is not realistic for everyone, but if you have access to local stores, please use them. I am the person who gets excited at Salvation Army or Goodwill. My real thrill is, of course, auctions.

From the days of haunting farm auctions for everything from vintage linens (the best!) to better quality furniture than I could have afforded new, I have been saving money my entire adult life. Of course, I have reached the age where I am blessed that my life is more want rather than need.

I like to keep a running list of things that would be fun to have but that I can certainly live without. I have also amended that list to include reminders of things I need to stop buying. Picture frames, for example. You can find the best picture frames when thrifting, and if you see me attempting to purchase one, please knock it out of my hand. I do not need another picture frame. Ever.

Full House

Our house is full — figuratively and literally. I swear that I don’t need another piece of furniture. I really don’t. Then I innocently walk into an auction barn. There I was, just minding my own business. Nothing to see here, I said to myself.

Then I ended up high bidder on a half dozen items. Look, when I see a seven-foot-tall pier mirror that was seemingly made for our home, I am bidding on that. Ditto, an 8-foot tall walnut secretary with original key. I have no idea where I will put these things. I just know a deal when I see one. They just don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

It’s also the fault of my house. We have high ceilings, so we need tall things, so I am drawn to anything tall as a matter of course. Of course, some auction and thrift sense is necessary.

Auction sense

At one point in the bidding, I became convinced that I needed a commercial restaurant-quality yeast proofer. For the record, I do not need a commercial restaurant-quality yeast proofer, although it was an amazing deal.

As I am writing this, the bidding has closed. I am now the proud owner of an 8-foot tall, antique glass front secretary made of solid walnut and at least 100 years old. I paid $60. Thus, for the cost of a few large pizzas, I have secured an heirloom-quality piece that we can enjoy and pass on to the kids someday.

I feel really good about it. I just cannot see spending good money on pressboard furniture that’s going to disintegrate if you set a drink down on it without a coaster.

Whether you love retail (you do you), hand crafts, thrift or not shopping at all, I hope you find your holiday groove. Granted, I hesitate to share my thrift scores because I really don’t need you all bidding against me.

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