Confessions of a thrift shopper

“What do you do for fun?”

That’s a question I get asked far too many times when I tell people I go to UDM.

It doesn’t matter if it’s around campus or back home.

Usually I respond by saying I explore the city, attend sporting events either downtown or in Ann Arbor, or hang out with my fraternity. Typical, cliché things like that.

But there’s another thing I enjoy doing in my spare time: thrifting.

Yes, I thrift.

But to be clear, this was something I was doing before Macklemore and Ryan Lewis made it a subject of their uber-popular song “Thrift Shop” in 2012.

Throughout high school my best friend and I would always go to our local Goodwill to kill time.

Why? Partly because we were bored teenagers stuck in suburbia with nothing else to do.

Checking out the thrift-store scene was not the first thing I did when I moved to Detroit, I’ll admit that. Yet, I quickly found out just how many thrift stores are in the area.

In freshmen year I heard about a store called Value World in Oak Park. Having never been to one before, I decided to check it out with one of my fraternity brothers, Adam, on an especially boring day.

It turned out to be a great idea.

Soon I found myself going to Value World and other thrift stores in Metro Detroit when things were quiet on campus and I had a couple bucks to burn.

“Why thrifting?” you ask.

A big part of it is simple. You literally never know what you’re going to find. And that’s not to say you’re going to hit a home run each time you walk into a store.

I’ve had many trips where I’ve gone home empty-handed. But on the days when I find something retro or unique, it makes up for it.

Some of my better finds include Coogi sweaters (like what the rapper the Notorious B.I.G. wore), a Fab Five era Michigan jersey, a Detroit Tigers Hawaiian shirt, an official Augusta National pullover,  a red, white and blue blazer that makes my mother cringe every time I put it on and a full-size Christmas tree for $10.

That’s just a small sample.

Some of my brothers have purchased some real gems, too. A La-Z-Boy recliner, a cactus-shaped mirror and a wolf shirt all come to mind.

Another part is easy: Thrifting is cheap. It’s one of the cheapest forms of entertainment out there.

Where else can you find something that says “oh my gosh, I can’t believe you’re going to buy that” next to a like-new designer shirt on the same rack? Sure malls like Somerset are great, and I enjoy shopping there, too, but it’s just not the same.

Plus, coming across clothes that were once considered the “in” style is nothing short of hilarious. Anyone who’s gone thrifting knows what I’m talking about.

It’s always great to go thrifting when you actually need to find something that only a thrift store is going to have.

Theme party at one of the fraternity houses?

Better visit the local thrift store first.

Thrifting seems to have gotten more popular in recent years.

A big reason for that is the money.

There’s money to be made in buying items on the cheap and then flipping them for high profits online or at vintage stores.

I’m not about that but I can see why people do it. Heck, I’m pretty sure there’s even a reality TV show about thrifting!

This past summer when I was out west in Spokane, Wash., for a wedding, I decided to check out a store not too far from our hotel. I ended up walking out with a Hawaiian shirt and an older Rose Bowl crewneck for $5.

You just never know.

Don’t get me wrong, the majority of my wardrobe doesn’t originate at thrift stores.

But nothing beats when someone asks “where did you get that?” and I can just grin and say, “A thrift store.”