Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thrifters Around the World: Thrifting in the Desert with Fenna

My pal Fenna of Short Girl Photography and Short Girls Blogs is a fellow artsy, crafty, thrifter extraordinaire. We shared a booth at the Riverside Arts Market when she lived here in Jacksonville a couple of years ago.

She's traveled all around the world and is always being spirited away to a new location. Her most recent stint was in Death Valley National Park, located in California and Nevada.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Fenna.

I am shorter than the average twelve year old.  I'm an avid reader, swing dancer, and photographer.  I make AWESOME stuffed animals out of recycled and re-purposed fabric.  I collect fluffy kitties and currently have four living with me.

When and why did you start thrifting?

I don't have an exact time.  I know my mom always bought our play clothes from the second hand store in my home town, and I wore my fair share of hand-me-downs.  I can remember "thrifting" in high school.  So, I guess, I always have.

Where were you living when you thrifted in the desert?
I was living in Death Valley National Park, on a small resort (Panamint Springs : ) in the middle of nowhere...50 miles from the nearest town, 70 miles from the nearest WalMart, 2 hours from Vegas, 4 hours from L.A.

What do think makes thrifting in a desert different from thrifting in other regions and climates?

Well, there are fewer snowy things.  There are still some cold-weather items, just not as many and not so many for extreme cold.  Also, it's a land of VERY small population that is very isolated, so the stores are smaller and there are fewer items, in general.

What is "thrifting" called in the desert? Any fun nicknames for thrifting?

Since I was in California, it's the same as anywhere in America. There were no "vintage" stores, though.  Just catch-all thrift stores.

Is there a large second-hand shopping/junking culture in the desert? Is it seen as something dirty or something for low-income families?

There is just as much as anywhere in America.  I think it's getting to be pretty integral to our culture.  Of the three thrift stores in Ridgecrest and the one in Lone Pine, two of them were big chains: Goodwill and Salvation Army.

What are flea markets like in the desert?

I didn't find any.  I know "swap meets" are big in L.A., and I've been to those.  Those are just flea markets, but they're REALLY BIG (like housed in a stadium).  Where I was, there weren't any flea markets.

What are thrift stores like in the desert?

They are smaller, but they still contained a great variety of items.  I was able to find everything I wanted.  I would imagine that there would be less turnover, so thrifting at the same stores every week would not yield much change.  It's also important to note that there was an AWESOME used book store in Ridgecrest, Red Rock Books.  Compared to everywhere else I've been (like Powells in Portland, OR or Chamblin's in Jax, Fl), it was a competitor.  I loved that place!

Is there a large creative and crafting culture in the desert?

Sadly, I didn't really live in a community.  I was on a resort in the national park.  We all had our own homes, but no one was really crafty.  They were all amazed that I brought my own sewing machine and made curtains for my camper.  I don't know what it was like living in town.  There was a painter on the resort, and she was in touch with the arts community.  Lone Pine had a bit more going on, because it was a tourist town.

You've are your top three tips for thrifting in the desert?

Don't go on Sunday!  The Salvation Army and many of the small stores (the comic book shop, a used-clothes boutique) were closed, so I missed them.  Map it out beforehand!  We were unfamiliar with the town and ended up driving around a LOT to find the places.  Use craigslist or be prepared for trips to larger towns.  I had planned a big trip to L.A. and was planning on meeting with Dabito of Old Brand New.  I left before that could happen.  But if I REALLY wanted to thrift, like for furniture, I would've had to take my car out to L.A. to get serious.

More Desert Thrifting: Fenna's posted a detailed article about thrifting in the desert that you can read on her blog. Check it out!


  If you would like to be featured in Thrifters Around the World, shoot me an e-mail.  I would love to interview you and chat about thrifting where you live.

Past Thrifters Around The World Interviews:
[6/29/2011]Marco from Italy and Amsterdam
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. The post came out beautiful, thanks for sharing these lovely photos!

  2. Very cool! We visited Death Valley in 2008 or so, but didn't even think of looking for any thrifts nearby. Good to know that they have some. We also stayed at a motel in Lone Pine (and also drive up 395 through the town frequently, on way to Mammoth).. will have to check it out next time.

  3. Brian: Glad the post is helpful and practical, too! I TRY my best to thrift whenever I travel, but I'm -always- traveling with people that would SHOOT ME if I tried to thrift.

    That or I'm not driving. Too bad, I SAW thrifts in the Florida Keys but couldn't get to 'em.

  4. Love this post! Imagine thrifting in a desert! I love glimpsing at the shelves in people's photos and seeing what I would have bought in that shop :-)

  5. Thrift Treasure - I totally do the same thing!

  6. Thrifted Treasure and Sir Thrift-A-Lot: Me too! ;)


I love reading your comments. Thank you for adding to the discussion! I always reply to any and all questions.

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