Thrift and Karma

Posted on May 25th, 2011 at 10:45 am


Thrift and Karma

Everything has karma in a thrift store. Pick a secondhand vase, and as you check the rim for chips, its past life might pass to you through your fingertips.

Once upon a time, somebody bought that vase—an I-love-you dozen roses or some get-well-soon cheer? The cause remains unknown, but the effect emanates from its glass surface. It’s in the mystery of the object and how it sparks our imagining of where it might have come from, how it was used. A happy place? A sad circumstance?

Now that I’ve been working in resale for a month, I’ve come to call this karma the romance of thrifting (nod to my late father-in-law who coined the phrase, the romance of banking, if such a thing exists). If an item speaks to you, you can adopt its story for awhile, then send it on its way to the next destiny.

In the case of Ray and Jean, a kind of reverse karma occurred. They chose me as the caretaker of their china cabinet one day when they came into the store.

The circumstances of the cabinet’s life are happy. Thirty two years ago, Ray and Jean bought their first house and the china cabinet was there, a new home for the good dishes, too. Later, they moved to the Midwest and the china cabinet came, too.

Ray and Jean are now downsizing. They wanted to determine the next destination for the cabinet, and they chose my shop to help. I felt the love in their story and the sunny yellow paint inside its curves when they showed me a photo of the piece.

They’d penciled in its dimensions on the photo, and we got to measuring for a good spot. It’s tall and wide but only 16″ in depth, good for a store fixture. It was set then, the cabinet would stay in the shop and be used for display.

It arrived yesterday(!) In the photo below, that’s Ray setting up the drawers – I think he was as excited as me to see how at home the cabinet looks. It’s a great space solution for tees and tanks now, other items as the season changes. Ray gave me a hug as he thanked me, though I tried to tell him it was the other way around. I got the good karma.

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