Susan Dromey Heeter's Budget Vogue: More men should wake up to thrifting

By SUSAN DROMEY HEETER September 22. 2017 5:47PM

My general impression of men at thrift shops is to find them in their cars dozing or sitting in chairs eager to escape the discomfort of bargain hunting.

I often hear women remark, "Oh, my husband is outside; I'm going to have to hide my bags from him." And, full disclosure, my Budget Vogue self is much the same. Thrift shopping to me is what fly fishing is to my husband - my Zen, my reprieve, my time to "catch the big one."

Alas, when my elegant friend, George, asked why I do not include males in my Budget Vogue column, I realized my impression of male thrift shoppers was skewed - I'd never asked any men about their thrift shopping experiences. And, dear readers, I apologize for my sexism, my ignorance, my lack of including those men out there who appreciate a bargain as much as I, who bask in the discovery of a great find.

This month, I devote this column to Men Who Thrift.

George finds that what he searches out depends on the locale. "If I'm at Savers or Goodwill, I look for books, records and fishing clothes," he says. "When I hit stores like The Fabulous Find or Leeward Landing (both in Kittery, Maine) I look for school clothes or casual wear."

George is also a fan of Union Street Antiques in Rochester where he searches out fly fishing rods and reels. George remarked, "I found a beautiful LL Bean rod and reel that would have sold on eBay for $350 for $125."

Perhaps I will encourage George to invite my husband on his sojourns. Those fly fishing deals do sound incredible. But, according to my thrift shopping friend, "The deals are out there;you just have to be patient and have fun looking."

That is where my own husband is lacking: the patient part. He's more of a quick shopper, an "I'll be five minutes in the store" kind of guy.

George takes his time.

Coincidentally, prior to writing this column, I ran into my colleague, Steve, at Fair Tide in Kittery. We both were thrilled that we happened upon "Everything in the store is 50 percent off day." Steve told me he frequents Portsmouth's Goodwill and is also a fan of The Fabulous Find. He recently scored a lovely jacket for his daughter that will be a Christmas gift. "It's probably about a $200 jacket," Steve claimed, "But I paid ten."

Ideally, Steve's daughter will not find out about this stellar bargain and simply enjoy her new outerwear. Keep the price to yourselves, Budget Vogue readers.

Steve and I work in the same building, but I work in the wing where we are mercifully graced with air conditioning. Steve's section is, well, a bit tropical. To deal with this, Steve hunts for moisture-wicking shirts at his favorite thrift shops. He spends $5 on comfortable Nike shirts rather than the $30 or $40 they go for new. So, Steve looks not only fashionable but comfortably cool despite the heat.

And both friends opened my eyes to the world of thrift shopping among the masculine population - there are more thrifty men than I had known existed.

I invite you men snoozing in your car to get out and go inside to see what treasures you may find. And as for that bag your wife has packed? No need to know. Perhaps it's an appropriately Budget Voguey surprise for you.

Susan Dromey Heeter lives and teaches on the Seacoast. Contact her at

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