Secondhand Shopping is First Rate

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Tompkins Weekly 06/03/2013

By Kelly Moreland

I was a teenager in the early 1980s, when most of us were choosing between adopting a “preppy” style or a “grunge” style of dressing. That was an easy decision for me because if I chose “grunge,” then I could buy my entire wardrobe at yard sales. Who wouldn’t enjoy dressing like Cyndi Lauper and Madonna? For very little money, I could adorn my arms with old, broken watches and wear my grandfather’s pajama pants. What’s not to like about that?

Now, as the owner of two secondhand stores (Mama Goose and Mimi’s Attic), my love of all things used is even stronger. What began as a reflection of my taste in music now makes sense to me in so many ways. I think I share the same sensibilities as my customers, and most Ithacans. I don’t like waste and excessive packaging, and I’m weary of how disposable everything has become. But I don’t shop secondhand simply out of principle; I do it because I love it. Here’s why:

The thrill of the hunt. Sometimes you set out to find something specific, such as sporting equipment for an upcoming trip, or a piece of furniture to help organize the shoes in your entryway. Or perhaps you like stopping at yard sales and ducking into thrift shops and antique stores in search of those higher-end bargains or unique items that reflect your tastes. Either way, the result is the same. When you find something, you’ve hit the jackpot.

Champagne taste on a beer budget. You can save a lot of money by shopping secondhand, and often the used version will be better made and nicer than what your budget would allow if you bought the same item new. Secondhand shopping can satisfy your taste for quality and style and keep you on budget.

The artist in you. For many, secondhand shopping is a creative outlet. Buying used enables you to make changes in your home or wardrobe as often as you’d like without feeling wasteful. And, if you like to roll up your sleeves a little bit, it can be fun and satisfying to extend the life of a piece of furniture with a fresh coat of paint, transform a piece of clothing with your sewing skills or repurpose something of historical significance.

Resale is a sustainable industry. The resale industry serves a useful function in our community by providing places where items can be transferred from one home to another. Additionally, resale is good for the local economy. At Mama Goose and Mimi’s Attic, I estimate that $84 out of every $100 we spend stays local. That is because all employees receive a living wage, and we buy our merchandise directly from community members like you.

Even if you are not a big secondhand shopper, you can still support Ithaca’s resale industry and participate in the reuse cycle by circulating your unused items back into the community. Being familiar with all of the different resale resources in our area will help you make decisions about how best to do that.

This summer, Get Your GreenBack Tompkins, along with Local First Ithaca, is sponsoring a county-wide promotion called the Local Lover Treasure Hunt, which is designed to help everyone get to know the secondhand resources in Tompkins County. The treasure hunt is modeled after the Local Lover Challenge held in December.

To get involved, visit three participating secondhand stores and receive a stamp on the treasurehunt raffle card. No purchase is required. After visiting three stores, treasure-hunt participants can enter a random drawing for gift certificates and a used sewing machine. To get started, stop by one of the participating secondhand stores after June 15 to pick up a treasure-hunt card. The treasure hunt will end with the drawing on July 31.

Participating stores include Angry Mom Records, SewGreen!, Funky Fresh, Finger Lakes ReUse Center, Significant Elements, Mama Goose, Mimi’s Attic and the Gemm Shop. For more information, visit

Kelly Moreland is owner of Mama Goose and Mimi’s Attic, located at 430 W. State St. in Ithaca. Mama Goose buys and sells gently used children’s clothing, maternity wear, children’s books, toys and baby equipment ( Mimi’s Attic sells, buys and consigns secondhand furniture, housewares and home decor(

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