Ariana Brown – Ode to Thrift Stores (Official Music Video)
A rich girl once told me she didn’t shop in thrift stores because they were “sad places.” And immediately
I pictured myself, trotting alongside my mom at the Community Thrift on the Southside, the dusty heaven
that produced all my toys and dresses as a kid. I remember “This Will Be,” some Natalie Cole
or Otis Redding or Earth, Wind & Fire shooting through the speakers, my mom humming about everlasting love
while scouring the kitchen utensils, and I know the rich girl is wrong, that thrift stores are anything but sad.
Mom had rules when I was young–pants should be under $10, shirts less than $5, a good jacket maybe $15
or $20. I’m not sure if she made these rules or inherited them, as I did, but I keep them with me wherever I go.
Know that a woman who came before you knew you would need guidance, and so she gifted you, from her
tired palms, her oldest blueprints for existing. The women in my family have always been the most original.
Trust them to find a way to do something when every easy option is gone. Turn the blouse backwards
and now it fits better. Roll up the sleeves, remove shoulder pads, learn to sew so you can hem your own
clothes. What can you create when the only thing in front of you is your hands?
How fast can you think? How deliberate can you be? Can you imagine something better
than what you have, then make the thing you have, better? Who taught you to make a solution
where there is none? Who was it that said, adapt or die? And did they meet my mother?
Queen of couponing and early morning yard sales before the Texas heat brushes the back of the neck.
When I tell you department stores overwhelm me, what I mean is, 15% off is not a sale.
I’m not even sure why they have sales because I’m not showing up ’til it goes on clearance.
Mom says everything goes on clearance. Mom also says the only things you should buy new are shoes
and underwear. That just because you don’t have money, doesn’t mean you can’t be sanitary.
Don’t leave the store until you’ve seen everything. The selection changes every day. Every 24 hours,
a handful of new chances to become an artist. My mom says she used to write poetry. My father,
when he was alive, was a dancer. Did I learn grace or was it passed through the blood?
Have I always been creative and practical? Today I bought two sweaters, two belts,
and a mason jar for $3. Texted my mom, “thinking of you.”