Stepping into a thrift store, yard sale or consignment shop is the launch of a new adventure.

But the activity of shopping resale is no longer just about great finds at bargain prices. Thrifting is about simplicity.

Cynthia Albers

Cynthia Albers

Thrifting has quietly risen to a respectful place in the zero-waste movement, for the reasons that buying secondhand keeps still-relevant materials in circulation. It requires no packaging, and it generates no waste.

Thrifting saves money. It may take longer to find “just the thing” you need, but you are more likely to leave the store with only what you need.

Thrifting stimulates creativity. Finding what you need might involve repurposing another thing.

Thrifting helps others. Most thrifts support a charitable organization, and that highlights the importance of giving.

“When you hang onto things you don’t need, you keep them from being useful to other people,” says zero-waste guru Bea Johnson. “When donating those things, we declutter our homes and make precious resources available to others.”

Thrifting draws shoppers of all ages.

I talked with an Analy High School student who describes herself as an “avid thrifter.” She finds the newest, cleanest and trendiest fashions on consignment at Plato’s Closet, but will often chance upon rare items while rummaging the racks at Goodwill. She notes that consignment is pricier than charity thrifts, but secondhand is always cheaper than retail.

“It’s the best feeling in the world to find a designer blouse that sells for $75, and you just paid $3,” said a resident of Burbank Heights and Orchards. Like other seniors living on a budget, she appreciates the economy of resale shopping. Her thrifting advice is to shop consistently. She said, “You won’t find those super items unless you’re out there looking.” Her needs and tastes have changed with time, but she continues to find clothes, music and housewares at affordable prices.

A friend attending Santa Rosa Junior College loves thrifting when she has time to comb through the inventory. The thrill (or fun) is in discovering something unique, valuable or vintage. She found her prom dress while thrifting — it still had its $300 price tag, but she paid only $20.

Other friends have pursued thrifting since first setting up their Santa Rosa home. They decided on mid-century furnishing but quickly realized, while raising their two children, they could not afford the items they liked. With dedicated consistency, they found the perfect dining table (value $2,000) for $300. Lamps that normally sell for $100s were purchased for $20 and their entire six-plate dining set cost less than $20.

Inspired by these stories, I set out on the Santa Rosa “Resale Trail” where several shops can be found within close range. Here are some favorites:

• Restyle Marketplace (Catholic Charities) offers a large selection of men’s and women’s clothing and housewares in most categories.

• Pick of the Litter (Forgotten Felines) has tidy clothes racks, an impressive number of books and quality kitchen utensils.

• Crossing the Jordan (Social Transformation) runs a number of wonderfully chaotic shops, and each is a treasure trove worth the dig. They are willing to discuss price.

• ReStore (Habitat for Humanity) is a terrific resource for DIY home projects, including furnishings, appliances and fixtures.

In Sebastopol we have two excellent and well-organized thrift stores that deal in a variety of goods, including some home furnishings — Sutter Hospice Thrift and Goodwill — as well as a great consignment store, Pine Grove General Store.

One friend pointed out the benefits of yard sales, saying, “They keep even more out of the landfill — things that cannot be sold in stores due to size or need of repair.” She agrees that thrifting requires time and patience, but adds, “There are various online platforms where people post items they no longer want, and those can be browsed in any free moment (from the comfort of home).”

Cynthia Albers is a member of the Sebastopol Zero-Waste Subcommittee. Send comments to albers.zw.seb@sonic.net.

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