Travelling Thrift Shop

Tomorrow I'll be visiting Marina Malvada, an ebullient and striking artist who lives in a small town outside Ottawa. My former neighbour and avid thrifter misses trolling the Montréal friperies, so— thrift comes to her!

So here's a summer business idea that I'll never realize: the Friperie Van brimming with picks from our charity stores. Continuing a long tradition of itinerant merchants, I'd tootle through bucolic small towns, and women would gather. Stock the van with a few rolling racks, set up an art deco folding screen and a good full-length mirror for a change room, voilà!

At sundown I'd serve sangria, and maybe barter for a guestroom, because even in this fantasy I am not a camper. Maybe spend two weeks on the road and a week off to restock. Would it make money? Maybe I'd only cover my expenses, but what a fun way to tour the countryside and connect to communities. After this reverie I read about a woman who does this, taking a truck stocked with vintage and cult cosmetics on the festival circuit and to markets.

In real life, I'm bringing a stack of gifts to my friend, who has a fine eye honed by a job in a vintage boutique in her art school days.

Blouses and jackets! Clockwise from upper left: purple poly print; poppy red Chinese satin; a wild metallic-knit pink bomber; a fitted blue blazer with pink lining and embossed metal buttons.

Two dresses! A Cynthia Rowley stretch knit, and a slip dress or top from the hip French brand Un Après-Midi du Chien.

And the kicker: I'm carrying them in an eggplant textured-leather satchel, lined in hot pink.

The tops were $6-$7, the dresses $8, and the bag $12.  Marina's free to re-gift anything that doesn't please her, or... the stock could go into my imaginary van.


LauraH said…
Clearly your friend shares my love of colour! What a wonderful assortment of goodies. You're both going to have so much fun when she unpacks that bag. Have a wonderful visit.
Madame Là-bas said…
My daughter has had a significant weight loss and I have been "thrifting" with her. Charity stores and friends have been the source of most of her wardrobe. As we speak, I have a bag to donate of daughter's former clothing. We wish that we could find a plus size consignment or charity shop but there no longer seems to be one in Vancouver.

I would love to have a little business in retirement but as with you, it is probably a fantasy!
Janice Riggs said…
The van idea is brilliant! I can see this after we retire in Ireland - do the serious thrifting in Dublin, which has an amazing number of charity and thrift stores, and then take things about the countryside... I'm going to have to explore how much demand there might be for such a service.
And your choices are glorious; your friend is so lucky to have you!
Leslie Milligan said…
I see it more as a "swap" van. Women in the small towns would arrive with clothes to donate and then swap them for the goodies in your van. You'll be lucky to make gas money. Maybe martini money, if that is more important. I'd happily stir or shake one for that blue jacket.
Madame Là-Bas, perhaps you could try a women's centre in Vancouver - something that helps women in crisis get back on their feet?

I take everything valuable I have to give away to Le Chaînon, which is such a centre here in Montréal. I googled women's centre vancouver - there are many. Since your daughter probably had work-worthy clothing to donate, you want a centre which is helping women in the stage of getting back on their feet and looking for work, undertaking study or internship programmes etc. But casual clothing such as jeans, sweaters, jackets can also be useful for women who are homeless or otherwise in crisis. (Sorry, this site is in French only, but they provide services in several languages).

This can make a real difference in someone's life...
Duchesse said…
Leslie Milligan: That would be a philanthropic endeavour! And loads of fun.

Janice: Happy memories of a Dublin outdoor market where I scored a 1930's dress, cocoa crepe trimmed with heavy ecru lace. I loved that dress.

Mme: Consignment is a whole other market than charity. Consignments here usually want things that are current and some are high end, while others are less so, but they all operate on you getting some percentage of money back, so they want things they think will sell. Thrifts, anything goes (except truly grimy); I have seen things in clothes that I'm surprised anyone would donate- though sometimes you can find consignment-type goods in thrifts. lagatta has a good idea, If "My Sister's Closet" on Seymour is still open, your donations would aid a shelter for battered women. Also, some churches hold rummage sales one or more times a year.
materfamilias said…
What fun! You'd be brilliant at this job, but sticking to the fantasy allows you to avoid the inevitable van breakdowns that would make such a good episode in a TV series but be horrendously inconvenient IRL. . . . (wouldn't it be a great series? I'd watch!)
Marina Malvada said…
I'm very excited to see you!
Duchesse said…
materamilias: Oh there would for sure be breakdowns in the middle of black fly country!

Marina: Ha! Now you can think about what you like.
Black fly country or a winter ice storm!

I was in tears on the train visiting relatives in Ottawa and Gatineau back then, seeing all the broken trees between Mtl and there...

But nature has bounced back.
Duchesse said…
lagatta: As I wrote (beginning para 2): "So here's a summer business idea".
Madame Là-bas said…
Yes, I have recently heard of My Sister's Closet and perhaps they could use some larger sized clothing.
Murphy said…
You are a great friend ! I hope you enjoy your summer break ! - Murphy

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