A New Column, ‘For the Love of Thrift’

Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Lesley Ambriz, anewscafe.com’s newest columnist. She’s a talented journalist and writer with a passion for hunting for vintage items. Lesley also has a blog, Froog & Doog, which you will find here on this site. Enjoy! ~ Doni


I’ve always loved vintage.

For some reason, though, my love has grown the past couple of years. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, and I’m finally just figuring out who I really am. Or maybe it’s because I like sifting through people’s cast-offs at yard sales, estate sales and thrift stores, looking for the perfect treasure. Whatever the case, I truly enjoy it.

Some may even say I have an obsession.

I love vintage. I do pick up useful modern items at the sales, but vintage is where my heart lies. My mom has always said I was born in the wrong decade. I was that weird kid in junior high who loved the Beatles and Monkees instead of the popular modern boy band of the time. And look where it’s evolved: I wear vintage clothing, my house is filled with vintage housewares and art and I can’t just drive past a yard sale or thrift store without stopping. Antique mall? Yep, those get me, too. Estate sale signs? Those are the mother of all draws.

I’ve even started gifting vintage items to family and friends for holidays, birthdays and special events. What’s more unique than something vintage? Okay, you got me there. I suppose an ice chest in the shape of Big Foot would possibly be more unique, but who would want one of those? The vintage pieces I gift were once loved a few decades prior and still have plenty of personality and lovability. For example, this past Christmas I found the perfect silk scarves for my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. The gentle detail of red rose bushes on a crisp white background screamed that it was intended for my mother-in-law. It was made that much more special being it was from the 1950s, and I doubt my mother-in-law will come across someone else wearing the same scarf. See, buying vintage solves so many problems.

One of my best friends is getting married this summer, and her bridesmaids were given the rule that we must find a mustard-yellow colored dress. My dress will most likely be of the vintage variety. I can’t even fathom wearing a modern dress. My gift to the happy couple will also be of the vintage variety: flamingo pink Pyrex cake pan and round casserole with lid from the 1950s, vintage handmade apron, vintage recipe card holder with recipe cards (probably not vintage) and vintage cookbook from the 1960s. The best part about the gift: I know my friend and her new husband will adore the unique aspect of the vintage goodies. I also know that my friend is a vintage fanatic, which doesn’t hurt the situation.

It’s reassuring to hear I’m not the only one with the vintage obsession.  Just visit Etsy, the online marketplace for vintage and handmade goods, and you’ll come across thousands of shops that peddle vintage items. Vintage home and garden sales are also becoming more popular. The Roses and Rust Vintage Home and Garden Market held on April 7, was so popular that it was held in the Redding Civic Center. The crowd that gathered to shop for vintage and handmade items was so thick; walking through the masses was an endeavor all on its own. There are several other markets popping up this year, with the Vintage Barn Sale and the Burlap Harlot show being two already established and popular shows.

I’ve noticed a lot of people who hunt for vintage items have one or two main items they collect. My vice is vintage Pyrex. Other people have a thing for vintage mixers, furniture, enamelware, clocks, books, pottery, linens and whatever else you can think of. A lot of times the items will remind the hunter of times in the past. Maybe grandma used the Pyrex Primary bowl set to mix up her famous chocolate chip cookies when you went to visit, or maybe grandpa had the most amazing baseball card collection he let you thumb through.

Whatever the case, I know I’m driven by a sense of nostalgia in my vintage hunting. I gravitate toward things that look similar to something my grandma or great-grandma had. I’ve even collected items that my mom has and I grew up with. It’s all in the feelings an item evokes. And finding it in a pile of junk at a thrift store makes it that much more special.

Lesley Ambriz is a Northern California native who adores her husband and two dogs, anything and everything vintage, photography, writing and being crafty. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, option in Public Relations from CSU, Chico in December of 2006. Lesley’s main goal in life is to visit each and every thrift store, junk shop, yard sale, estate sale and antique mall in Northern California in hopes of rescuing vintage items in need. You can also follow her blog, Froog and Doog.

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9 Responses

  1. Love this. I'm a thrift store junkie and am always very proud of the bargains I find. Most recently, I picked up perfectly lovely wrought iron chairs for my studio at the new Goodwill Store on Hilltop – $22 each. But well-made vintage fashions are my favorite "finds." Looking forward to reading more.

  2. Avatar Canda says:

    What a fun article, Lesley. You hit the nail on the head when you said vintage items evoke certain feelings. Just walking in to an antique mall, or thrift shop, gives me warm and fuzzy feelings about my childhood. Vinyl covered chairs with stainless /formica tables, vintage aprons and pyrex, are my favorites. I look forward to reading more of your columns. Love your photo!

  3. Avatar AJ says:

    My mother would have loved this vintage trend. Back in the day she loved Goodwill and Salvation Army. This was way before thrift shops became vogue, but she could not pass up a yard sale or antique store. But my earliest recollect of her proclivity was during WWII when she discovered the Army Dump!! Not many people had a vegetable garden protected from birds by camouflage netting!

  4. Avatar pmarshall says:

    I love Pyrex, too. Still have a few pieces, and they are well used. I won't part with them. Hopefully I won't break any, but time is catching up, so will enjoy what I have. Enjoyed your article.

  5. Avatar Kirsten says:

    Fun article- and yes- I am also a vintage lover/fan/whatever. Somehow, like you said, it connects us to our past, and I think, we have over the last 4-5 decades done a great job of DENYING that we had one. I have noticed that the fairs have fewer handmade items, and the kids are no longer taught the "basics" to produce so many of the really important things, we could make before. Or am I missing something?

    Anyway- if you ever need help, I can probably give you directions to all thrift stores between Sacramento and Medford!!!

  6. Avatar Marty says:

    If you haven't seen it, there's a Thrift Store that reminds me more of a Boutique shop on Churn Creek Road just south of Cypress Avenue, one building past Liddell Const. Supplies. Bargain hunting and vintage shopping is quite fun and rewarding.

  7. Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

    You are a woman after my own heart. I get so excited when I find Fire King mugs, I can hardly stand it!

  8. Avatar Lesley says:

    Thank you for such a wonderful response! I'm so happy that I'm not the only person inflicted with the thrift and vintage bug. Thank you for the wonderful tips, and I can't wait to share more stories with everyone.

  9. Avatar deidraalexander says:

    I love the Salvation Army boutiques, they have two! One downtown and one off of 273. You can always find vintage china pieces, books and I have even found some vintage style clothing pieces. I once found a real leather bomber style (Fonzie style, I know I am dating myself LOL) jacket for $25. Not to mention vintage fabrics for quilting. I can spend hours in their stores.