In numerous visits to my boyfriend's apartment in Edgewater Park, NJ, I've come to realize just how many thrift stores are scattered along Route 130. So one scorching hot day, I cautiously ventured through the townships of Burlington, Delran, and Willingboro to explore the secondhand surroundings. It all had so much potential, so much promise. This particular area of Jersey is aesthetically trapped in its own little time capsule, where store signage and architecture is reminiscent of small-town 1950s America. Nothing but thrift stores, diners, and liquor stores as far as the eye can see. (Oh and more than a few topless bars).
Initially I had an idea to make a day of it with a few friends---to hit up as many thrift stores as we could find and then lounge at one of the numerous neon and aluminum diners. But I thought better of making the journey sight unseen and without a proper game plan. So I made it a solo venture to map out a thrift route for later use.
And though it's sad to say, the first stop should've sent off alarms on just how liberally the word "thrift" is thrown around in this strange land of yesteryear New Jersey. Forgotten Treasures, while curated for the upscale secondhand shopper, was hardly a thrift store. Since I admittedly didn't do my homework in checking out their website prior to my visit, I was having some major sticker shock. $30 for troll dolls? Nahhhh, I'm good.
|The Grand Market Place|
Now... I should mention that James did warn me about this place...that it was populated with unsavory characters...and junk. But still, I remained hopeful. Because my idea of 'junk' is something sought after. Vintage wares, upcyclable goods, oddities, etc. But I found absolutely none of that. The few open booths within this expansive indoor farmer's market and flea consisted of either cheaply made, mass produced import designer knockoffs or pickers' booths so inaccessibly packed with overpriced curbside finds that venturing inside would inevitably cause an avalanche of...well, junk.
And not the good kind of junk. Again... I WAS warned.
On my last stop of this sad little thrift tour, I made my way through a rather stuffy and nondescript Goodwill on Rt 130. But it was just far too hot to make a solid effort of sorting through the clothing racks. I settled on one flowy striped tunic for $3 and was thrilled to call it a day at nearby Panera Bread for a well-deserved ice coffee.
So what did I learn from this experience? Is it as James has said, that the quantity of thrift stores in the area has negatively affected the quality of the merchandise? I don't think it's quite as simple as that. I think it comes down to businesses hijacking the word "thrift" to mislead the secondhand buyer's market into thinking they're getting a good deal. And why not? Of course co-opting the idea of "thrift" makes good business sense. Buying secondhand has its merits. As for me? I love the history of certain items, the idea that everything old is new, that one-of-a-kind special find; that I'm doing my part to lessen the landfills.
But let's face it. I want bargains not bullshit.
If I ever come to need a "Prado" scarf or a hideously overpriced piece of nostalgia from my childhood, I know where to go. But thrifting? No. There's no thrifting here.
Have you been lured into a faux thrift shop with the promise of bargains, but found none?
In the next Let's Go Thrifting post...yet another Jersey thrift adventure.
Can the Garden State redeem itself after this thrift fail? Stay tuned and stay thrifty.