Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Types of Thrifters: An Irreverent Character Study

We thrift out of necessity, we thrift because we're adventurous, we thrift because we're dreamers; there are so many reasons to thrift and so many types of thrifters. I've been thinking about the Types of Thrifters a lot lately. Most thrifters are pleasant to encounter; some are bat shit crazy.

I know you've encountered some of these types as you rifle through the aisles at the thrift store:

Octo-Thrifter: She Has Exactly 1 Million Loud and Destructive Children.

This woman has mistaken the thrift store for the playground, toting along her numerous misbehaved offspring. They throw toys everywhere, they ransack the store with their filthy little paws, and they ask strangers intrusive personal questions...horrifying.

Competitive Thrifters: They'll cut you in the face for that singing bass!

It's just a singing bass- let it go! Stories circulate around the thrifting blogosphere about knock-down drag-out fights over thrift store bargains. Sometimes competitive thrifters are resellers trying to score big bucks, sometimes they're just assholes. Whatever the case, just walk away. There's plenty of junk to go around. No need to fight.

 The Fancy Hipsters: They'll thrift. But they don't like to get too dirty.
"When rich kids want to look cool, they shop at thrift stores to look poor."

Fancy Hipster Thrifters could be students or artsy types looking for props and supplies, but they're usually on the prowl for ironic t-shirts, skinny jeans, vintage dresses, records, and anything with an owl on it. Stalk the thrifts off the beaten path to avoid them; I never see them at dirty hole-in-the-wall junking stops.

The Crazies: Some mean no harm. Some might be horror movie extras; am I being punked?

The crazies love thrifting. They come in many types, I could write an entire post on the crazies. Sometimes they have no concept on deodorant, sometimes they have no concept of personal space. It gets really bad when they have no concept of either. Oh, the stories I could tell...

The Grandma:
You just know that sweet old lady has a basement full of stuffed animals...

Some are resellers, some hunt for ugly sweaters and ceramic trinkets they will unload on unsuspecting family members. Sometimes they're a little "off", sometimes they're competitive (see type one) but they're usually pretty harmless.

One day I will grow up to be an old lady cougar thrifter hunting the thrifts for cool junk and young boys in my sexy over-sized muumuu house dress. (You know you want it.)
So tell me, what types do you encounter at the thrift stores?
Help us create the next batch! Leave what you want us to draw next in the comments.

[Artwork provided by my art partners in crime Birdie & Edbot5000. Idea conceived during our Tuesday drawing nights! We're at 5 Points Coffee and Spice every week drawing up a storm.]
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  1. i mostly encounter thrifters that are looking to resell and make some cash! Bargain hunters, if you will.

  2. Having been the manager of a thrift store, I've encountered all of the above! And unfortunately the crazies are always the "regulars," as in the ones that come in two to three times a day! Some never leave and just park their buns on the furniture and wait for each cart to come out, then rush at it like a hillbilly on a can of Spam. Those customers always hated me because I'd tell them the couches are for selling, not for sitting, can you please stop crapping it up?? Oh the stories I could tell! That's just the tip of the iceberg! :)

    1. Your Bigoted comment is rude and unappreciated. Your customers hated you, because you are hateful.

  3. Jessica: I don't run into the true bargain hunters/resellers often, but haven been running into more antique collectors lately.

    Parsimonia: I don't know what it is about crazies and the thrift store! At least they always produce entertaining stories. Maybe "Crazy Thrifter Story Time" next ;)

  4. I love it! This thrifter could be merged in with the crazies or the grannies but I always get "The Talkers". At first, I'm not sure if they're talking to me. Or themselves. I hope that they're talking to themselves. But they're talking to me.

    It seems like at least half of the time that I go thrifting, I get a talker. I must just have a friendly face. The last time, it was the lady who told me over and over about how her daughter told her that she wasn't allowed to bring anything else home from thrift stores. It seems that she was going to anyway because she'd "paid her dues".

    And on a note related to "The Competitive Thrifters", I have to bring up "The Nervous Nellies". You notice them as they notice you when you enter an aisle. They grab their cart and block the aisle and watch you constantly to make sure that you don't stand a chance at finding anything before they do. They glance over every time that you touch anything to make sure that you haven't nabbed something from their perceived zone.

  5. Marcia: Thank you, we can't wait to draw-up more of these.

    Eartha Kitsch: Haaa, the stories with crazies go on-and-on. Sometimes you'll think they're talking to you but they're talking to themselves. I like your ideas/types!

  6. Birdie, the drawing machine that he is, has drawn up Eartha Kitsch's "Talker Thrifter" as his daily doodle:

    I love the bunny slippers and apron!

  7. haha. this is funny.

    i've had people follow me around and pick up the things i decided not to take.

    i've also seen other resellers who have given me the evil eye and look in my cart every chance they can.

  8. Lori C (aka Gypsygirl)August 4, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    Yes, and Birdie also need to make the 'hybrid' combo's of these types, adding in the stray collection of cats that go with one or more of these...with the shopping cart parked outside at the door...and the stink lines wafting...
    I've noticed a lot of re-sellers out there, always keeping an eye on what I'm looking at or touching. I've yet to see a real 'fight' over anything, but I'll be front row when it happens!!

  9. Drew: I will confess, I had cart envy before and kept eyeing a prize I had JUST MISSED at the thrift. This was only once in my long thrifting career, though ;)

    Lori: We have a lot of drawing to do! I probably don't show up early enough for the bloodshed, but I've hears stories.

  10. What about the rude "Grabbers"...their arms are so long and they always reach right across you, sometimes right in your face to grab something that you are standing immediately in front of. Hey! I might have wanted that, but you didn't give me a chance!! It happens to me at garage sales, flea markets, thrift stores and at the free shelf at the library! It is one of my biggest pet peeves!

  11. Carla, my version of the "Grabbers" are the people who grab every single thing that they can fit into their arms when the swarm hits the cart that has just been wheeled out of the back. 95%-100% of the stuff they don't end up dumping it somewhere in the end.

    Your version of grabbers has never happened to me & I go to a store where 75%-80% of the shoppers are nutzo!

    Thrifting is all about timing. Whoever has it in their hand first wins - otherwise it's fair game.

  12. this is hilarious and soooo true! i was trapped by a crazy once and just talked my ear off and i all i wanted to do was shop!

  13. I'm telling you Vanessa we could be making a killing if we did create a thrift themed comic strip!

  14. Carla & Sir Thrift-A-Lot: I'm lucky to not experience as much competition, probably because I don't line up to enter Estate Sales and Stores to duke it out with the hardcore shoppers.

    I've had people sore at me for taking something they had their eye on, though. Don't snatch from people or be rude, but if you see something you like, scoop it up before it's too late!

  15. cb: That has to have happened to every frequent thrift shopper alive. The person means no harm, you ain't there to chat, you've got a thrifting agenda!

  16. birdie: I know, right? I've been wanting to make one for years. We'll collaborate!

  17. Van - Love this posting! It's so true! I think I tend to power-walk thru the Thrift stores, but turn into a crazy-grabby shopper at Estate and Yard Sales....ha ha!

    There is a Goodwill Clearance Center nearby, where all of the unwanted junk from all of the Goodwill stores end up. Stuff is SOLD by the pound.

    I heard that people hang out there all day long rummaging thru all of the rotating bins to fill up their carts they have parked along the's just crazy! I think many of these folks are HOARDERS. Their carts are full of clothing, headless barbies, and stuffed animals. Weird...

    -pamela :)

  18. This is so funny! I mostly encounter the first kind with the 8 million naughty kids. Or the one with the baby in the cart that screams and cries the whole time and the mother completely ignores them. Drives me nuts.

  19. These are incredibly accurate. I guess I'm almost the fancy hipster, but I am NOT afraid to get dirty to find the good stuff. And now, although I do a double-take when I see a kitschy owl, it's more often because there is a chance it will sell (with the fancy hipsters who want their items to be clean first!)
    I went to an estate sale recently and got a crazy looking owl lamp (impulse buy, decided to give it to my friend who was jealous that I found it...the thing kinda creeps me out..). Anyway, a lady in line behind me at the check out table was like, "Ohh, I love owls!"
    I say, "Me too!"
    Lady: "There's one that keeps comin' to my back yard, and he just hoots up a storm, and I hoot back at him, and we just hoot back and forth..."
    Me: "Oh..I'm actually not a big fan of the real ones. Just the cute figurine ones...."
    Awkward silence. Nervous laughter. But I will give her props for giving us an example of her best owl call :)

  20. Pam: Yep, I encounter a lot of junkers picking up stuff there's no way they could be using. This reminds me though, I've gotta make it to the Goodwill pound store ASAP :)

    Liz: Yeeup, stop the madness!

  21. Dani: It's funny how most vintage owl figurine collectors are not big fans of the animal! Pfft! Funny conversation.

    I forgot to add that Fancy Hipster Thrifters are more likely found in vintage shops, antique stores, fancy/trendy consignment shops...they are our customers, so we shouldn't mock them too relentlessly ;)

  22. haha - great post! I get a lot of the crazies, they always seem to gravitate toward my location. I'm closest to a fancy hipster I guess, but you would never tell because I just don't dress or look like any of those people. I like going incognito, wear the blandest most boring jeans and t-shirt that you can imagine, and don't talk to people unless spoken to. It's better not to advertise you're a reseller - but yes, I've had people figure it out and then follow me around the store to see what I pick up. Sometimes I purposely pick up fuggly, worthless looking things and examine it in detail - just to mess with 'em LOL!

  23. Birdie did a great job on "The Talker". Looks just like her! :)

  24. This is too funny! They actually have announcements to warn off the Octo-Thrifter types at my favorite store. Not that it matters. It's like child frogger in that store. And don't accidentally bump the child who is dart between the rack and jumping out in front of your cart. The mom will flip the eff out!! Oh well.
    Great post. I laughed until I cried a little, lol.

    Jess - Check us out if you get the chance! :)

  25. I ran in to one competitive thrifter once but I got the find of a purple high heeled shoe jewellery box and the woman said she had a shoe fetish! Some crazies, but they do their own thing except for exclaiming there is only junk, which is false, I usually always find something useful or something I like at the one I go to all the time and fancy hipsters, but most of the just try to find unique records at the store a block away. :) Great post!

  26. I laughed out loud when I read this post! LOVE it!!! Its true, I have encounted all these different 'types' of people in thrift stores!

    Feel free to check out the 1960s pair of Neiman Marcus pumps I thrifted when I was home in Singapore for the winter break (its Winter in Perth at the moment!)

    xx Aliya

  27. A La Modern: Good idea! I've been hunting in lesser-known places and flea markets more, so I don't get followed by resellers ;)

    Eartha: It really does! Guess he's been accosted talkers before, too.

  28. Jess and Aliya: Glad it made you laugh!

    People have successfully sued stores when their clumsy children do things to injure -themselves-! Grr!

    Sammerz: Luckily, the truly Fancy Hipsters are all about record stores and vintage shops. They are resller's customers! :)

    Everyone else: keep suggesting the Thrifter Types, we're going to draw more.

  29. Mostly I encounter people who don't shower and seem to wanna stand right near you! That and feral children running up and down isles pressing the same noisy button on their toys.

    E :)

  30. It's sad, but out of the ones you posted, I'm one of 'The Crazies'.

    I had an old man walk up to me & fart REALLY loudly in my face while I was looking at dishes once... BLOODY DISGUSTING!


  31. It's amazing how we both were inspired by our thrifty competitors this week. And what's more? There seems to be endless character types ecnountered in the thrift. "Bat shit crazy" is such a broad catergory that there could be a new entry posted every week. I've seen enough of 'em to know!

  32. E: Yes, the "smellies" must be addressed next.

    Sir Thrift-A-Lot: That's horrifying! I think we have to draw that next, give us some more details and it will be done!

    Jackie: Saaaame here, me and Kira talk about how Jacksonville and Philly have to same amount and type of "Bat Shit Crazy" citizens. We have so many types to draw up...

    Let us know your creepiest, craziest stories and we'll laugh...then draw 'em up!

  33. fave thrift store doesn't have too many 'interesting' (if you will people). we all take it preeety seriously lol

    another one I love, though, has millions of screaming kids & moms.

    this is too funny!

  34. Van, loved your descriptions, but now I'm wondering if my sister falls into the crazy catagory...hell who cares, she scores great

    I think it would be cool if you did a weekly comic strip as you fight your way through the thrift store jungles...I'd love reading it!

  35. hahaha!! I LOVE this post. I've encountered all of the above... but fortunately not so much of the uber-competitive thrifter.
    Oh boy...the deodorant... there was one instance where there was a cloud of 'musk', by far the worst I've ever encountered. It took several minutes for the air to circulate it out... sheesh!

  36. I have three local thrift stores that I visit every other week or so, and I've seen all the characters above! :-) Here's a few to add to your list:

    Poser Teens-- they come in looking for "vintage" and choose things I remember wearing in hs. And I'm only 31. They take up a whole aisle with their cart and try clothes on over their own. The entire store can hear their commentary.

    The Stinker-- as mentioned above-- usually an older individual who peppers each aisle with flatulence before moving on to the next. Usually deaf, usually shuffling along quietly. Silent, but deadly!

    The Homesteader-- this person lays claim to a particular aisle and just STAYS. I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to just go up and down the aisles, making my rounds, and have come across these folks. No amount of loud sighing or smiling or "excuse me's" will have them get the hint to MOVE and let someone else through.

    The Waffler-- this person doesn't know what they want. They will go back and forth and back and forth and back and forth-- all the while the cashier is silently screaming with their eyes: MAKE UP YOUR MIND!! No one wants to get in line behind the Waffler.

    The Dressing Room Squatter-- this person fills their cart to the BRIM and beyond with clothing, then wheels the entire thing into one of the 3 modest dressing rooms available, never to resurface. And when they do? They leave piles of un-hung clothing in their wake which takes a store employee 45 minutes to clean up. Thus rendering 1/3 of the dressing rooms unusable for the rest of us!

    Then there's me-- a frequent shopper with a toddler. I go armed with teddy grahams and sippy cup to quiet my child. I am sure to be quick and precise in my scanning and always have correct change. :-D

  37. This is so funny to me, because I actually used to work at a thrift store and this is so true!!!

    Xo Chloe.

  38. I currently work at a thrift store and see them all. Not many hipsters where I live but an overabundance of the crazies, especially ones who reek of cigarette smoke!

    1. There are many smoking crazies here in the south, national passtime! Thrifts used to be relatively hipster free but they've infilterated the market in the past decade, making it hard for me to see locally.

  39. How about "The Mirror"? You know, when you are out at the thrifts and you look up and see your thrifting double? How do you feel? Do you smile? Do you get jealous of all the items they have in your hands because they are EXACTLY what you would have picked out? And do you try and high five them hoping them will drop something you can snatch up?

    Hahaha just kidding, but this has seriously happened to me. I always smile.

  40. I really had fun drawing those illustrations for Vanessa that I couldn't help but put it in my comic. I did one thrift store joke, I wished to do more but Vanessa needs to write them

  41. Another type I'd like to add is "The Business Man." Middle-aged, mostly straight male resellers who are clearly just in it for the money. They root through the flatware bins looking for silver and only handle items that you see frequently at flea markets or shows like Pickers. No imagination. I usually jump an aisle on them to make sure they don't get to anything good before me-- I thrift competitively, though I don't fight over anything :)
    The smellies don't bother me. If I walk into a thrift store where diapers aren't being changed, it usually means there's a lot of good stuff to go through!

    1. Yep, I've see this type. They can be viciously competetive at times! And true, sometimes "The Smellies" are signifies of a great hunting spot.

    2. As in that spot, known for it's crazies, is one other less determined hunters may avoid, leaving more for you!

  42. Haha, I probably fit best in the category Fancy Hipsters, although I do actually go to 'cheaper' thrift and give-away shops. I'm not rich either.

    1. I'm probably closest to "Fancy Hipster" because of my mod hunting agenda and because they're a large part of the demographic I shop to resell to. I need to make seperate types for "artsies", "collectors", and maybe different types of "resellers", though "resellers" is super broad.

  43. I can add one more that I've run into.

    The Bragger. A version of The Talker who has a running stream of stories all about the bargains you missed yesterday, last week or just this morning. She tells you about how much she made on this or that item she bought. It gets harder and harder to feign shock and surprise at her good luck the longer she talks. She is usually just behind me in a long line. The worst of them will continue her stories even while I'm checking out.


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