Newborn Photographer Fareham celebrates National Thrift Day!
As some of you may already know, I grew up on a farm which was close to an RAF base. With my dad working on the farm, and my mum only doing part-time jobs, there wasn’t an abundance of money coming in, so any help with clothing was greatly appreciated. Having two sisters, there was always plenty of hand-me-downs anyway. There was a little portacabin building on the RAF site that was known as the ‘thrift shop’. I wish I had taken a photograph of the building, but I have that photograph in my memory even if not on paper. My mum would take us there regularly to buy clothes. I’m sure there was a scheme that the people who donated the clothes got a percentage of the sale. I’ve not really heard of a ‘thrift’ shop since in England, but maybe it still exists in military bases. I guess the world ‘thrift’ comes from being thrifty with your money.
I would say that the modern-day version of a thrift shop is the Facebook Marketplace. Although in England, we do have our own version we call charity shops. As a newborn photographer in Hampshire, my visiting mummies and daddies to my lovely newborn photography studio at Cams Hall often tell me how their little one grows so quickly, that they grow out of their newborn clothes without really wearing them. Alternatively, some parents choose to keep baby clothes for future children or for perfect hand me downs for friends and family. This is very good for the environment too. I recently wrote a blog post on being a green parent which provides mummies with newborn babies in Hampshire tips on how to become greener.
I found this website really useful for finding out a little more about thrift shops. https://www.trvst.world/sustainable-living/fashion/history-of-second-hand-thrift-shopping/
It discusses sustainability and how we are creating more clothes than we need.
My best friend Charlie is married to an American soldier, and in between jobs and being posted to a new country, she would volunteer at thrift shops.
I asked Charlie how thrift shops started and whether it’s seen as a predominately a military concept. She shared, “I’m not sure of the entire history of thrift stores in America, however, from my experience as a military spouse, they have been on all the US Air Force bases as well as the US Army posts. They are typically run but the spouses club, some could be officers, some enlisted, and the proceeds are given back to the military community. Often the money goes to educational scholarships to military family members, or cub scouts and other non-profit organisations. The US military posts their personnel across Europe as well as Asia, which is where you’ll also find thrift shops too.”
I wasn’t sure how a thrift shop worked, so I asked Charlie to explain. “So each thrift store is a ‘business’ and must follow the post’s guidelines, such as all monies documented etc. Each thrift store also has standard operating procedures, so they are run like businesses and follow all legal regulations.”
These thrift stores must be so important for parents and I was interested to see how Charlie saw it. “Having volunteered in a lot of military thrift stores overseas, I have seen the benefits to the customers tremendously. Growing up, I didn’t know about thrift stores, not until I moved to America. And even then, I think I had a different idea to what they were about. When I started volunteering in them it gave me new perspective. It’s all a win-win situation. We are forever grateful to those who donate items, and grateful to the volunteers who give up their time to help in the store with donations and customers. Many of the stores I was at did not even have paid employees. I was a part-time manager for one particular store, and it’s a huge responsibility. But my greatest achievement was customers who would tell me they would only come in on the days I volunteered. And one weekend we took in more in two days, with me as the manager, than we had the whole previous month.”
Perfect Help for New Mums
It would seem that thrift shops were especially great for new mums. “There are a lot of young spouses in the military, often 18, 19 years old and of course are having children. Thrift stores are beyond helpful to them, as well as other customers. Those of us who volunteer ensure that good, unstained, products are put out for sale, with reasonable, good prices that are easily affordable. In addition, we will have special days for sales. There may be a gently used pushchair that new parents may not be able to buy new but from a thrift store could be available.”
People buy from people they like, and Charlie was obviously a very popular asset to the thrift stores she worked in. “The one weekend I took in more in two days than the whole entire month made me so proud. To have customers and volunteers only come into the store when I was there too was so rewarding. Seeing a customer excited about getting a good deal makes me excited. In addition, providing educational scholarships to family members is priceless.”
I believe that things have changed over recent years, and parents are happy to have hand-me-downs or second-hand clothes. It’s not about being unable to afford new clothes, but it is also related to giving back to the environment. Reducing the number of clothes on a landfill site can only be a good thing. Charlie would go into a thrift store to see what’s available before going into a regular store. Buying from them gives back to the community.
I find it interesting that sharing second-hand clothes creates a community feel whether a local thrift store, charity shop or clothes handed down through the family. Recycling clothes can only be a good thing.