I’ve wandered far and wide, searched high and low, and dug myself so deep into musky smelling piles of clothing and purses that I’ve come out on the other side. And yet a thrift store from my hometown remains my Mecca, the epitome of thrift store shopping.
Firstly, it is the size of a Wal-mart. The clothing section alone is the same size as the 27th St. Value Village (one of my other favorite thrift stores). It is staffed by friendly old people and the bulk of its customer base is families. Green Bay does have its share of hipster teen-agers and (thanks to UWGB’s great environmental science program) thrift loving hippies; however, there are fewer thrift junkies than in Milwaukee. Green Bay has the second largest population in Wisconsin (if you’re from Madison and want to argue that fact, please take comfort in knowing that even if Green Bay has more people, you have more cool people). So there’s no shortage of donors.
In Green Bay the shortage of culture and arts leaves the citizens to amuse themselves with materialism. They are more concerned with owning new stuff than collecting quirky old stuff. And when that new stuff becomes quirky old stuff, it ends up at one of its many wonderful thrift stores.
And for someone like me, it is a virtual gold mine of old lady stuff. St. Vincent de Paul has an entire bin dedicated to aprons (almost all of them vintage). In other thrift stores you might find a rack of men’s ties. Here there is a refrigerator box full of them. Some places might have a shelf of craft supplies. Here there is an entire section, occupying a large corner of the store. And everything is dirt cheap, like it ought to be. It’s a dreamland of kitsch, a gorgeous messy landscape of precious crap.