|Red Rooster Antique Mall Las Vegas, NV|
My first introduction to the Salvation Army was back in the mid to late 70's. This came courtesy of my mom's hippie friends, who shopped there regularly. 'Shopped there?' Are you kidding me? In my mind, I could not imagine why anyone would possibly refer to that as shopping. SA was located right smack in the middle of the busiest street in town. Mind you, we were a small town at that. That meant parking was on the major street and if any of your friends or classmates happened to pass by and see you, you were scarred for life. Doomed. I mean, what kid wants to be associated with shopping at the town junk store? My personal Carrie moment would kick in: "They're all going to laugh at you......." Ugh.
I have vivid memories of my first few trips there. More than likely because they were such traumatic experiences for me. The place was huge. The racks of clothing seemed endless, because they were! That was a good thing because I could hide, in case someone saw or recognized me. The glass windows took up the entire store front. People walking by would stop and press their faces up to the glass. Peering in with their hand shielding their eyes. Looking to see what this junk store was about. For the town busy bodies & Chatty Cathys, looking to see which families shopped there. They would then discuss it at the PTA meeting. This one would tell that one. That one would tell this one. Before you knew it, the news had traveled to the depths of earth and there was no escaping the junk store mark. You may as well have worn the letter's JS on your forehead.
Parking and walking inside for me, was the hardest part. I would run up close to the building, slow down, and scope out my surroundings. I would let everyone go inside ahead of me, until I felt comfortable that nobody (I mean nobody) had seen me. Sometimes I would 'scope' for 10 minutes or more. Once I was in, I was safe. To avoid recognition, I could hide behind clothing or crawl on the floor among the shoes. I am 5'1" as an adult. As a 12 year old, I was smaller. Imagine the hiding places I came up with.
The treasures inside that place were ridiculous. What I would do today to rewind that part of my life and go back there. I would stock up on treasures. I would beg my mother to buy me everything. "Mom, I am going to need that dress & purse in the future!" Those were the days when clothing cost a quarter. Shoes, handbags, coats, everything was marked $1.00 or less. Housewares were abundantly spread throughout the store. The items left over from 30 years prior, were just hanging around competing with each other to get purchased.
Nowadays, vintage items have become nearly impossible to locate at any thrift store. We live in a time where all of life's guilty pleasures can be obtained via the internet. Voila, your source for vintage everything. My heart hurts reliving that part of my past. When I stop to think about how I was surrounded with so much vintage clothing back then, and I took it for granted, I want to scream.
The Salvation Army became a place I grew to love and respect. I frequented it often during the 80's, and continue to do so today. I would pull up to the SA in Paterson, NJ and would practically run in from excitement. My friend would use the families 1982 Mercedes to drive us over there. Yes, poor people stared at us. They needed to shop there, being that was all they could afford. We, on the other hand, were not shopping there out of necessity. We shopped there because we were inspired by vintage fashion. (Notice I refer to the term shopping.) Our only necessity was finding coats and dresses from those decades past.
I was completely in true, head over heels love and marriage with vintage. I eventually took a job on weekends at the town thrift store. There I scored hats, purses, coats, pins, earrings, pill boxes, you name it. I just couldn't break away from it. I was addicted to the high of finding neat things. My heart skips a beat when I see the word 'Thrift.' I can't pull over fast enough. I can practically smell the moth balls from inside my car.
All I can say is that you can take the girl out of the thrift store, but you can't take the thrift store out of the girl. Wherever I go, whoever I am with, I look for the local thrift stores. I have them mapped out as part of my trip. For me it's all the same. Shopping at Nordstrom, or the closest Goodwill. Yet, I prefer the thrift stores every time. Over 90 percent of what I own is true, unreplicated vintage. I have collected most, if not all of my life. It's who I am. It's who I have always been. Thanks be to my mother & her courage to venture into SA and shop til' she dropped. Never caring about what people thought or said. Little did she know, she had awoken a fire within me. A stubborn, relentless flame that refuses to be put out. Viva La Vintage as I continue to remain in touch with my inner Priscilla. Presley that is....for she was the most beautiful, vintage looking goddess I had ever seen back then. Like many females of that time, sexy, sultry, and well, sixties fashion queens.