The Used

by | Sep 1, 2010

I hate people who look down their noses at thrift shops. Because you see to me, a thrift shop is like a secret garden filled with stories and memories and trophies. And the oh the treasures you can find.

The first time I walked into a thrift store- well really more of a thrift market- I was in Nairobi, Kenya. In Swahili they call it Mitumba. My mom took me, I was about 13 years old. We walked through this muddy area and into a large building. It looked deserted on the outside but the inside- wow. The place was filled with clothes, shoes, handbags, wallets and hats. Now to be truthful, much of it was garbage, and no doubt some of it was stolen (hey Kenya ways, man) but my eyes were still bulging when I realized how cheap everything was.

I love walking into used book stores. There’s something incredibly touching about feeling and old book. Smelling that old book smell. And when I find an inscription on the inside:

“Dear Molly, hope you enjoy as much as I did. Kate xo.”


Love you always,

I guess it’s the writer in me but I start imagining the life of this book. The hands it has passed through before it landed in this used book store. I think about the reason this Dad or this Kate decided to go out and buy this book. My curiosity astounds me.

When I first moved to America we didn’t have money, or really a home. Living at my aunt’s house my mother and I would walk to the library and to the thrift store. Perhaps that is why both places make me so nostalgic.

At the thrift store I bought my first winter coat. It doesn’t snow in Kenya so when we arrived in the heart of the bitter cold in December 1999 we had to buy a whole closet of new warm clothes.

Walking those cold streets to the thrift store all those years ago who would have known that my future husband was living just a few blocks away. Probably playing with his dog Dana or banging on a drum. I wonder if our paths ever crossed, wonder if we may have bumped into each other.

One time at a thrift store I bought a winter jacket and when I took it home I found $20 in the pocket! My mom said I made $18 off that jacket.

To this day I still love thrift stores, used book stores and antiques.

Because just as they say “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

1 Comment

  1. Claudia

    I love this post Suki, I know exactly what you mean. Like you said most people look down on thrift stores cause they think it is beneath them, but thats how most people in what we call “third world countries” get by. Tell those people who tell you otherwise that most people in Kenya or Africa are more then grateful to be able to go out and get something “new” from one of those stalls then most of the people who spend $200 on a pair of skinny jeans, or a skimpy top just cause its in season and thrown out next month cause it is not the right colour.
    We grew up with better things to think and worry about then the label we wore. I know what you mean about rummaging through a huge pile of clothes and walking from stall to stall. Before you know it you have spent four to six hours in the market and you have to pull yourself out of there cause you can’t even lug the 10 gunny bags you have around, and all that is just for one person!!! 🙂
    Great memories. Don’t forget where you came from, it helps shape you into who you are.
    Happy hunting.
    Love to you, mum and dad.


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