by Brittany Boll, Qumunity Connoisseur
Rumors from the barstools: A reputable regular of the pine let me in on a little secret… Quincy is getting a Target! Ok, if that isn’t the thriftiest way to get you to read on…
Cheap, I know. But anything cheap will be a part of our past with the wave of the future being cyber and post-pandemic production being minimal.
“I had better get it cheap while I can,” seems to be the modern day motto.
There is no doubt that the amazon effect has hit home. It is evident in the skeletons of stores and the continuous cries that “there is no where to shop!!”
Preach, girl, preach.
This graveyard of department store depression has to have a rainbow somewhere. And then, not so suddenly, out of the midst of cyber chaos and the crowds of empty stores, rises a re-evaluation of the situation.
“Perhaps second-hand cares, like second-hand clothes, comes easily off and on.” – Charles Dickens.
A thought inspired both by history and adaptation…we need to think outside of the box…store.
Long before Macklemore popped tags, thrifting was a means of survival for people making their own American dream.
It went something like this:
In the early 1800s, clothing, and most everything else, went from being produced in the home, to being produced in grand scale in factories. The Industrial Revolution, as it came to be known, drastically reduced the amount of time and effort the common American had to spend on looking fashionable. Time is money, and this new process made clothing less expensive and abundant.
By the 1950s, the post WWII boom had created a culture of abundance in the U.S.. Now people had more money and clothing was relatively cheap. This changed people’s behavior. And although thriftiness would remain a core trait of depression-era adults, the scarcity mindset was eroding away. The latter half of the 20th century was full of cool looks that come back around every few decades.
While the 80’s were driven by Wall Street and Reaganomics…the 90s-era kids started shopping at thrift stores for fashion as there were people in need of inexpensive wares, cheap baby clothes, etc.
The oughts brought some rebranding to the glammed up recycle model. Posh “vintage” stores in bigger cities would sell you a $900 used leather jacket and an original pressing of Dark Side of the Moon. Christian organizations took the model, linked charity with capitalism, and shook out the flock’s closets.
Enter Covid 19 and what seems to be a lull in our abundance. A quick trip to the store is all it takes to realize that inflation is upon us. Prices have gone up on almost everything. Is our money less valuable? Have delays in manufacturing created decreased supply and thus increased prices? Looks like it now, but time will tell how long it will last.
But the fact remains that for the foreseeable future, Americans might need to take a page from Grandma’s playbook and wear it out, reuse it, pass it on, or repurpose it.
Maybe it’s a calling from Mother Earth to go Green? Maybe it’s a reflection of the 90’s fashion icon Cher Horowitz and her mantra: “It’s like that book I read in the ninth grade that said “Tis a far better thing doing stuff for other people.” Either way, the recycling of goods, particularly clothing, benefits everyone involved.
The often-polarizing Jane Fonda recently took the spotlight in green activism with her 2019 announcement that she will never again buy new clothes in an effort to alleviate her carbon footprint on the world. While her already elaborate wardrobe (which didn’t come from Target) may be the everyday fashionista’s distant dream and reusing a multi-thousand dollar Elie Saab gown may be the highlight of her abstinence, most Americans could all use a little more Green consciousness and take a page from her efforts. Just don’t think about her Hanoi Jane phase…
Thrifting has now become a form of virtue signaling no matter what the class standard may be.
So the devil wears Prada when it’s new, but if you found it second-hand you’re an earth angel. Man, I would have been considered Saint Coco Chanel in my twenties out of sheer necessity. The thrift store provided me with endless opportunity for fashion at a fraction of the price. Eventually, I turned necessity into a hobby that I now consider an art when done right. With the power of Tide pods and some pretty decent dry cleaners near Spring Street, I have achieved modern, fashion moksha.
Gone are the unenlightened days of grade school, “name brand” shoe shame. Kids can be cruel. However as adults, we have experience that brings us perspective. Ah, perspective: the weapon of all fashion combat. Shame me for my lack of swoosh and I laugh with “twenty dollars in my pocket…”
If you too want to enter fashion nirvana, and heal that shopping itch, there are plenty of locally owned thrift stores right here in our Qmunity with our Muddy Vibe spotlight being on one of Quincy’s classics: York Street Thrift Store.
Located on the southeast corner of 4th and York east of the Oakley Lindsey Center, the store sits an antiquated two story, white store with green and white striped awnings and old time store front display windows. Inside, is a department store experience complete with seasonal sales, bargain finds, and more product than the racks of TJ Maxx (especially Quincy’s Maxx, which can be particularly picked over at certain times. A problem of being one of the last retailers standing in the Q).
Sheri Howell, a Quincy native who now lives in Ursa, and her husband, Andy have owned York Street Thrift Shop since 2005. The store is celebrating 62 years in business this year. This is both a rarity and an accomplishment in our brick and mortar apocalypto. The original owner was Lucille Bonansinga, who Howell said was a great friend and mentor. The building was originally a grocery store, until Bonansinga bought it it and made it a laundromat before eventually turning it into a thrift shop. According to Bonansinga’s obituary, as a widowed, single mother she beat the odds and became one of Quincy’s original pioneer businesswomen.
“I worked with Lucy for over 15 years and I was able to learn a wealth of experience from her, something I will be forever thankful for,” said Howell.
Now it’s Howell’s tradition to continue. She has made sure that the shop still stands tall throughout this economic evolution. York Street Thrift Shop, like many other businesses, felt the impact of the pandemic. Not only did they have to overcome the shutdown hurdles, they also had to adapt to the OLC covid site camped directly in front of the shop along with road closures around it. That didn’t stop their loyal customers from still making their way in to shop their sales.
I really enjoyed talking to Howell and learning about this quirky store and its deep Quincy roots. I also asked her about the future and the possibility of a “new Memorial Bridge” (possibly going in at 3rd and York) shoving her aside. She said she was not concerned as the project is in the very early stages.
“We will cross that bridge when it comes to us,” she said, pun intended (I’m here all week. Tip your bartenders…seriously, tip your bartenders).
If you are Kondoing your way through your own closet and are interested in becoming a consignment vendor contact York Street Thrift Shop on their Facebook page or give Sheri a call at (217) 222-0706.
Adapt. Think outside of the box. Go Green. Pop tags. Read Charles Dickens. And aim your Target in a thrifty direction.
Perspective: the weapon of all fashion combat.