Issue No. 6
Online Thrift Shopper Magazine
Jan. 2007

The Piggyback Artwork of Eddie Breen

Dating Vintage Postcards
New York City Thrift Guide
Easy, Cheap Crackle Finishes
Buy Chic, Not Shabby Furniture

Thrifter of the Month
Charity Spotlight
Zodiac Thrifter
Thrift Kitten Tips
Thrifted Recipe
Calling All Thrifters

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ARTICLES

INTERVIEW WITH EDDIE BREEN, PIGGYBACK ARTIST
Morphing Bad Thrift Store Paintings into Cool Art
By: Cookie

DATING VINTAGE POSTCARDS
Can I Find Out the Year My Vintage Postcard Was Made?
By : refried.jeans

NEW YORK CITY THRIFT GUIDE
By: Laura from Laura's NYC Tales

EASY, CHEAP CRACKLE FINISHES
By: cosycottage

BUY CHIC, NOT SHABBY FURNITURE
By: redbarnestates

FEATURES

THRIFTER OF THE MONTH
I am a Thrifting Convert
By: Alexandra Murphy

CHARITY SPOTLIGHT

ZODIAC THRIFTER
January Horoscope

THRIFT KITTEN TIPS
Buying Small Appliances

THRIFTED RECIPE
Pennsylvania Dutch Shoofly Pie


Calling All Thrifters!

 

INTERVIEW WITH EDDIE BREEN, PIGGYBACK ARTIST
Morphing Bad Thrift Store Paintings into Cool Art
By: Cookie

Remember that guy who would scribble beards and moustaches on all the fashion models in the school library's magazines? That was Eddie Breen, piggyback artist. Piggyback art is a method of creating new art on top of existing art, and Eddie Breen is piggyback art's leading practitioner. Breen scoops up discarded paintings from thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales and then paints over or changes as many elements of the original painting as needed until it is morphed into a Breen. Some part of the original painting is kept intact by Breen, usually a focal point, but the rest is up for grabs.

Breen first experimented with piggyback art in 1986 while working as a bike messenger in Boston. Riding in elevators on his way to deliver packages, Breen would leave his piggyback drawings in the elevator inspection certificate holders in buildings throughout the city. His drawings disappeared quickly as building tenants started collecting them. Breen completed his first official piggyback painting in 1997 and since then has sold virtually every painting he's posted on eBay. His gallery showings include one called "Breenapalooza" in 2002, and Breen estimates that he's completed several hundred piggyback paintings so far.

THE NATIONAL THRIFTER: Do you know what you're going to do with the paintings you buy before you buy them, or do you buy some knowing that you'll have a use for it eventually?

EDDIE BREEN: I used to buy just any cheap old painting, but my rate of acquisition far outstripped my painting speed, so now I have a barn full of pre-Breens. I only buy paintings now if they are exceptionally funny or good portraits with an interesting look I can weave a story around or if an idea comes to me as I view it. Mrs. Breen, who is also an avid flea marketer, antique, and thrift store explorer, comes up with much of my favorite pre-Breens.

TNT: What is the average price of one of your piggyback paintings?

EB: I get pre-Breens for anywhere from $1.00 or the trash to $40.00. I usually won't pay that much unless they are really good and an idea leaps right out at me. After I work 'em over, they sell anywhere from $150 to $1,000.

TNT: Is there anything you look for in paintings you want to piggyback, like lots of empty background space?

EB: Empty space is a great thing. It gives me room to move. But I also look for something to interact. A painting can lie in a corner, silent for a couple of years, then suddenly pipe up, "The fish I've killed now live in my head, they have nowhere else to go!"

TNT: Do you take special orders for piggyback paintings if someone is willing to pay extra and they supply the original painting and the theme they want?

EB: Sometimes I do commissions, but they slow me down and generally initiate a block, which I have to work around.

TNT: Do you only sell your paintings on eBay?

EB: I mostly sell on eBay. Sometimes I do commissions and sell them privately. I've had a couple of shows and sold them that way.

TNT: How do you come up with ideas for piggybacking and decide what you're going to do and how to do it?

EB: A lot of ideas come to me as I'm waking up and still kind of dreaming. The paintings also make suggestions to me as I'm walking by looking at them out of the corner of my eye. Sometimes I just start painting, and after I've done half of it, a theme begins to emerge.

TNT: How long do you typically spend on a painting?

EB: Well, it takes about 10 hours of continuous work to produce a painting at my current standards of production. When I first started goofing around at this, I would pump out up to three paintings a day. As I didn't really know how to paint then (at least much less than I do now), it was pretty easy to do. Now, however, I'm more self-critical and more of a perfectionist, so it takes longer and longer. Those 10 hours can represent weeks of picking away, or if I'm on a roll, two days.

TNT: When you shop at thrift stores, do you look at the rest of the merchandise or only the paintings?

EB: After 30 years of flea marketing and thrifting, we have so much stuff in the house that I'm pretty focused these days. Paintings are the first thing my eye scans for, but then I also currently look for crowns and weird shoes - Mrs. Breen's current obsessions.

TNT: Do you have any thrifted collections?

EB: I have contributed to my wife's many collections - shoes, birdcages, crowns (got a great one in a Shanghai flea market), bird nests, circus clothing, tin toys, shells, minerals, shell art, antique vases, Hall ware, gothic stuff, etc. The list goes on and on.

Visit www.eddiebreen.com for more information about Eddie Breen and his piggyback art.

 

 

Back to Table of Contents

DATING VINTAGE POSTCARDS
Can I Find Out the Year My Vintage Postcard Was Made?
By : refried.jeans

There are a myriad of ways one can determine an approximate (or sometimes an exact) date for your old postcard. 

Among them are:

•  Look for the Obvious First.
•  Postcard Styles
•  The Number of Stars on US Flags
•  ZIP Codes, Postal Zones & Postal Rates
•  Theatre Marquees and Billboards
•  Cars, Clothing Style, and Architecture
•  Publishers
•  Do the Tough Stuff, Last.

Here are the details: Look for the Obvious First.

Some postcards, especially chromes printed by the LL Cook Company and a few others, and many vintage postcards by the Detroit Publishing Company (also known as Detroit Photographic or Phostints ) put copyright dates right on the card (about 1898-1907). These later dates usually applied to the image and in many cases the card was actually printed a few years later.

Some postcards are either explicitly dated by the sender or implicitly dated by mentioning the current president or even a disaster or other current event mentioned. I found a William Jennings Bryan poster in the window of one real photo of a house once.  I've seen other campaign headquarters signs for local politicians or a couple of times for the Bull Moose Party.

Postcard Styles

Older cards without a line or divider on the address side date between 1901-1907.  Leather cards are usually from about 1901-1904.  Older cards with a white border date usually between 1914-1918 (unless they are linen).  This saved on ink costs during WWI.  Linen cards generally date between 1930-1950.  They have a woven texture.  Chromes are after 1940, but mostly from the 1950s-1960s.  Larger Continental cards (about 4 x 6") date from the late 1960s to the present.  Litho cards are cards that are all one color (usually tan, but also red, blue, green, etc.) and they date from the 1920s-1940s.

The Number of Stars on US Flags

It is possible to date the image of your postcard if the US Flag is completely visible. A 50-Star Flag dates the card later than 1960. A 49-Star flag was only used for one year, dating the postcard to 1959-1960. The 48-Star flag flew for about 47 years (1912-1959) so that's not so helpful, except for cards on either end of those dates. The 46-Star Flag was flown from 1908-1912. The last one for our purposes would be the 1945-Star Flag, which was the official flag from 1896-1908.  Oklahoma, Hawaii and Alaska cards can also be dated depending on the information or postmark as they became states after the postcard era began.

ZIP Codes, Postal Zones & Postal Rates

Before every little post office in America was given a ZIP Code, big cities were given a postal code. This lasted from 1948-1964. Any card with a code was almost assuredly from this era. Therefore, any address on a vintage postcard from a big city without a Postal Code or ZIP Code is probably before 1948. I say probably because perhaps not all publishers followed the "rules". Any small town address without a ZIP Code probably dates before 1964, any with a ZIP Code most assuredly is 1964 or later.

If your card is from after 1952, the cost of the stamp may help you date the card. Remember, though, that the card may have been produced many years before the stamp was placed. On rare occasions, the current stamp rate is printed on the back of the card giving you the probable date of production. People often think penny postcards are very, very old, but the once-cent stamp was used for virtually all years up until 1952 (with one or two brief exceptions).

Theatre Marquees and Billboards

If you can make out a particular movie showing at a theatre you can usually date the card by when the movie was released. Only on rare occasions would a re-release throw you. Sometimes billboards and signs may advertise a 1957 Chevrolet or announce the 1938 County Fair.

Cars, Clothing Style and Architecture

If you know even a little about cars that can help you date the cards, at least within a 5-10 year period. Of course, the Volkswagen Beetle didn't change much between the 1940s and 70s so that won't help too much ("The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same").  Occasionally, you may even be able to read the year on license plate!

Clothing or hairstyles can also be used. Flapper hairstyles were only popular for about four years (1923-1928). The beehive was popular from about 1963-1967.  Bell bottoms probably date your card to the 1970s. Leisure suits were in fashion during the late 1970s. Most men wore suits and hats in public until well into the 1960s. 

Decor - Art Deco buildings (lots of bus stations were built with the block style windows and rounded corners of the era) were mostly built in the late 1930s, early 1940s. Interiors - Red Carpet, Walls, and Everything else were the rage in the 1950s until Mod Decor (Flower Power, etc.) started in the late 1960s through the early 1970s.

Publishers

Almost all Curteich Company postcards have numbers either on the back middle, front lower right or stamp box (newer cards).  You can find the corresponding dates by looking for charts published by Refried Jeans or the Lake County Forest Preserves.  Search for "Curt Teich Postcard Archives".  Other companies may have this information listed as well. Wayne Publishing's silver border series date to the 1940s.

Do the Tough Stuff, Last.

Depending on how important the exact date is, you could do lots more research on the Internet. The building or destruction dates of a particular building could give you some parameters for your card. The same could be said for the particular photographer. Perhaps a phone call to the current business owner could help - often motel roadside postcards have the address right on the card. I once located the current owner of a home depicted on a real photo postcard by seeing the doctor's name on a sign in front of the house!

You may also find the dates of vintage postcards by going to one of the genealogy websites and doing research about the person who sent or received the card.

Back to Table of Contents

NYC THRIFT SHOPPING EXPEDITIONS
By: Laura from Laura's NYC Tales

NYC has some of the best thrift shops around. It must be because there are a lot of rich people often giving away their hardly-worn clothes (no hand-me-downs in those circles - fine with me!) Throughout my thrift-shopping "career," I have found so many amazing things, I have little desire to shop in "normal" clothing stores at all - well, except for underwear and shoes. For me, thrift-shopping provides a definite "thrill of the unknown" that calls me - I never know when I'll stumble upon something incredible, that I never knew existed and is one-of-a-kind. And also - who wants to look like everybody else? With a bit of creativity and persistence in hunting, you can find great things for around $5.

Below I have compiled my favorite "expeditions" - various thrift shops to visit on individual outings, located in easy walking distance from a central starting point.

The East 20's Expedition: I take the Lexington Ave. subway line (#6 ) and get off at 28th Street. I walk east on 28th. Between Park and Lex., I make a quick stop at the Center Thrift Shop . It can tend toward pricey, but I usually check out the big rummage table near the back of the store, where I've found things cheap. Next: I head out, and continue heading east until I reach 3rd Ave., where I make a left turn. Between 28th and 29th is a Goodwill Thrift Shop . I like the "Goodwill" shops - there are at least five of them in NYC - is because their
prices are regulated, and they're cheap (compared to some thrift shops that think they're selling new clothes on Madison Avenue). Next: I head downtown a couple of blocks, until I reach the Help Line Thrift Shop , located on 3rd Ave., between 27th and 28th. It's
a small store with not a huge selection, but they're practically dirt cheap. I do consistently manage to find good things

in there. Next: I head downtown, to 23rd St. At 23rd, I head east. Between 2nd & 3rd Ave., I stop by the Salvation Army . The clothing is located in the basement, so I have to take the elevator down one floor. The atmosphere in the basement is rather dismal - crowed and not very well lit - but I always find good stuff there, so I bear with the not-so-pleasant environment. Next: Just a few doors down, heading east, from "Sal's Boutique" (as an old friend used to call Salvation Army's), is another Goodwill Thrift Shop . This one is very big, and very pleasant to shop in. I always find good stuff in here. After this Goodwill Shop, I definitely call it a day.

The Upper East Side Expedition: Once again, I take the Lexington Ave. subway line (#4,5,6 ) and get off at 86th St. (By the way, this is an express stop, so you can speed up there on the #4 train.) I head east until I reach Second Ave., where I make a left and head uptown. On Second Ave. between 88th and 89th is a great place called the Stuyvesant Square Thrift Shop . It has a vast selection of clothes to look through. So much, in fact, that you could get nearly "thrifted out" after this one store! The prices are very reasonable, which is nice. After I've looked through this store, if I'm up to more thrifting, I head down Second Ave., until I reach 81st Street. I head west on 81st, until I hit Out of the Closet Thrift Shop , located between 2nd & 3rd Ave. This place is half antique store/half thrift store. Some things are pretty expensive, like things in an antique store would be - but they always seem to have sales going on. I make sure to check out the "barn" area in the back - for 75% off bric-a-brac, and also for the large, organized selection of books. After this store, sometimes I'll drop by the Godmother's League Thrift Shop , located on 3rd Ave. They aren't incredibly cheap, but - you never know.  

The Mid-Town West Side Expedition: I take the 8th Ave. subway line (C, E) to 50th St. When I get out of the subway, I head west until I reach 9th Ave. I head downtown until I reach 46th street, then I head west again, until I hit the gargantuan Salvation Army located on 46th St. between 10th & 11th Ave. Although the prices at Sal's have gone up in recent years, still there are good deals to be had. This store is so immense that I'm all thrifted out after I finish it.

Back to Table of Contents

Easy Cheap Crackle Finishes
By: cosycottage

Did you know that the expensive "crackle medium" you buy in cans is really just plain old white (Elmer's) glue? Any white glue will work just like the really expensive stuff in cans.
We all love the "shabby chic" look of old crackled paint. When we're lucky, it happens naturally. But most times we have to help it along.
Crackling is great for covering up flaws. If you're considering sandling off old layers of paint, crackle instead - it's much faster & gives the item a lot of character.

How it's done:

There are 2 different methods of crackling that I use - one where the color in the cracks comes from underneath - the other where the color in the cracks in rubbed on. I like the second method best. It looks like dirt has naturally accumulated in old paint cracks.

Method 1: Color underneath

1) Primer your item if it wasn't previously painted
2) Paint it with the color you want to show in the cracks (use a color with a lot of contrast to your top color if you want your effect to be dramatic.)
3) Paint the glue on. You can dilute it a little to make it easier to work with. Use a brush, not a roller. Cheap brushes work better - they leave more lines & therefore more detail in the cracks. PUT IT ON THICK! Thin coats don't crack well

Experiment - the more glue you put on, the bigger the cracks.
I like to use a funky, random pattern so the cracks aren't all in nice neat brush lines.
And I like to vary the thickness of the glue from one part to the next so the cracks look natural.

TIP: Thin coats work best on vertical surfaces. This is true for both the glue and the topcoat. If you paint them on too thick, it will all run down & be a gloppy mess. You can turn your item on it's back, crackle the front, turn it on the side, crackle the side, etc. I did this on an armoire. It's time consuming, but works great.

4) After the glue is set up, but still tacky ,(more than 1 hour, but not more than 2 or 3 - depends on your thickness) paint on the main color. Don't let the glue dry all the way - it won't crack if it's totally dry.

As the top color dries, the underneath color will be revealed in the cracks.

Method 2: Color rubbed in

1) Primer your item if it wasn't previously painted
2) Paint the glue on - see details above
3) After the glue is dry (see details above) paint on the main color. Cracks will appear as it dries, but they will be very subtle.
4) After the main color has dried overnight, take a rag and rub gel stain onto the item, working it into the cracks. Work in small, manageable patches. This is a really beautiful effect - gives gorgeous age, texture & patina.

Instant museum piece!

You can also do this over reproductions of  Vintage Prints to "age" them:

1) Mount the print on a piece of plywood with a light coat of "Super 77" spray glue.
2) Coat the print with 4-5 very light coats of clear spray varnish first.
3) Paint on the glue
4) After it's dry, paint on a clear varnish. Cracks will appear.
5) After it's totally dry and hardened (overnight), rub stain into the cracks. Instant museum piece!

This is a great alternative to expensive custom framing - and is much more true to how many vintage prints - particularly Victorian Lithographs  were actually displayed.

Back to Table of Contents

Buy Chic, Not Shabby Furniture With Complete Confidence
by: redbarnestates

Are you an incurable romantic and lover of shabby chic styles?  Me too!!!  As a conscientious seller  Red Barn Estates.
I would like to offer my guide to finding quality Chic, Not necessarily Shabby furniture to buy on eBay.



Lots of furniture on eBay is described as shabby chic.  Often, the label is put on furniture that, well to put it nicely, you just don't want in your home.  The shabby style indication is not supposed to mean the item is "a shabby piece of junk".  When it comes to accent pieces and décor some junque in the landscape is marvelous ~ but where furniture is concerned, shabby chic style means that the piece has a certain look, was previously enjoyed, has some distinguishing wear and tear and perhaps forgotten for a generation or three ~ it should not mean the furniture is unusable.

The right piece, with the style, look and functionality that you want is a TREASURE ~ a vintage or antique find from the past ~ reborn in your domain.  Here are a few suggestions to make sure you are going to be happy with your purchases.

It's wise to buy from sellers who take the time to give full descriptions ~ including any flaws.  First, because taking some time in description may be an indication of their future responsiveness.  Second, because while shabby imperfections such as dents and dings, chippy paint, verdigris, etc. are often fabulous attributes to the romance and cozy feel of the furniture ~ broken, rickety, rotted old furniture will not.  Good, reliable sellers will disclose full product details with a statement of the item's usability.  If not, it is a good idea to ask questions before bidding.
Here are 4 questions you should ask if you don't find the answers within a listing:

1. Is the furniture solid and sturdy?
2. Does everything function properly?  (Drawers, doors, slides, wheels, etc.)
3. What is the furniture made of?  (Wood, particleboard, veneer, etc.)

4. Are there any unseen defects that will affect its use?

Be leery of short, incomplete or vague descriptions and/or if the seller does not respond to your email.  ALWAYS review seller feedback.  Look for comments from previous furniture buyers to determine if the seller sells similar furniture pieces often or just occasionally. 

Finally, consider how the piece will be shipped.  After all, once you have found that perfect piece for your bedroom, living room, etc. ~ it needs to arrive in one piece.  Many of our customers tell us that, unfortunately, there are sellers who do not know how or do not take the time to pack especially oversized furniture securely.  (Remember antique and vintage pieces of furniture do not come in pre-made boxes.)  So, look for feedback specifically from furniture buyers ~ see if they mention the quality of the packing, shipping and prompt delivery. this is a Red Barn Estates  (this is a link: http://stores.ebay.com/Red-Barn-Estates ) as full-time sellers of chic re-finished furniture, applies these same criteria with every piece we offer.  We select quality pieces of furniture, giving them complete inspections.  We clean and make repairs and/or improvements as part of the refinishing, provide full descriptions within our auctions, show numerous clear pictures ~ including close ups of any imperfections.  When it comes to delivery we expertly make custom shipping crates using our own, proven packaging techniques.  We ship promptly; utilizing reliable shipping companies and follow through to safe arrival.

Hopefully this guide will help you select the right piece of furniture from the right seller.  If you would like to see some of the fabulous furniture we offer please visit our store Red Barn Estates .  (this is a link: http://stores.ebay.com/Red-Barn-Estates )

Below are pictures of some exceptional pieces previously sold to fellow eBay members.  Thank you and I sincerely hope your shabby chic furniture buying experiences on eBay are always good ones.

Back to Table of Contents

THRIFTER OF THE MONTH
I am a Thrifting Convert
By: Alexandra Murphy

I would have to admit it; I came to thrifting later in life. Having grown up in a rather affluent suburb, there just were no thrift opportunities. Once I took off for college, fellow students would thrift - often taking me along to point out the better clothing labels. Such was the benefit of the environment in which I was raised - although our family was far from affluent (single mom, three kids). Truthfully, few things garnered more enthusiasm than a bag of hand-me downs from friends and relatives!

Twenty or so years after college (in a city far from where I was raised) and living a less than frugal existence, financial tragedy struck. The situation was unexpected and initiated by events that we had no control over. Having to deal with a huge and expensive burden meant cutting serious corners. One big problem was that the stress caused me to lose a lot of weight. What should have been a positive development was a nightmare - as new clothes were out of the question!

Thrifting has not only been a gift - providing a way for our household to clothe ourselves and obtain things we could never afford to purchase new, it has actually become a fun hobby. Perhaps it borders on an obsession. As we learned the fine art of hunting for treasures, and figured out how to dress in nice clothes - while spending very little cash (credit-card is a dirty word for us), we started to have fun. What was at first an activity that we under took as a way to cope; has now become something enjoyable. I would much rather head out on a tour of thrift shops than go to a mall!

As owners of a very old home (guesstimated to have been built 200 or so years ago), we spend a lot on things that are not so much fun (roofing material, pipes, boilers, etc.). Furnishing the house is a passion - but not a huge expense. Finding vintage and previously owned treasures has been a way for us to keep our home true to it's bones - a simple old farm house with a lot of character. It's tapped into my inner crafter too. Reading thrift and craft blogs provides a lot of great ideas - especially those posted by other members of this forum (Rebecca, Jenn, just to name a few).

No one would guess by looking at our home, or by the clothes we wear, that our possessions are largely thrift shop finds. Anyone who believes only shoddy or dirty clothes can be found at thrifts, is sadly mistaken! Having the second-hand market as a resource has helped us survive and cope with adversity. But the thing is - what doesn't kill you can only make you stronger - and who would have thought something as innocuous as relying on thrift stores to get by would lead to such a positive change? I am a thrifting convert - almost to the level of being a second-hand evangelist!

Back to Table of Contents

CHARITY SPOTLIGHT
Backstage Thrift

Backstage Thrift in Seattle, Washington, is owned and operated by Greg Kerton, an actor with an interest in the environment. Kerton was attending the conservatory program at Northwest Actor's Studio and working at a thrift store when he came up with the idea to open Backstage Thrift. Since then, Kerton has opened two more Backstage Thrift stores in Seattle, and a portion of the proceeds from all three stores benefit the Northwest Actor's Studio. Backstage Thrift focuses on providing quality vintage clothing at a fair price, and they are proud to be able to supply costumes for local theater productions.

THE NATIONAL THRIFTER: Why don't you tell me what the Northwest Actor's Studio is all about.

GREG KERTON: The Northwest Actors Studio in Seattle is one of the oldest theater arts centers. They've been teaching for close to 30 years the technical craft of stage and theater performance. They have a two-year conservatory program for the more serious acting student. It's taught by local working actors.

We do have somewhat of a vibrant theater scene in Seattle, and so all the teachers that are at the studio tend to be involved in productions. It's kind of fun to go see your teacher in a performance on a paid stage.

I think it's such a noble organization. I was in school there and I was working in a thrift store, and I said, Well, this is something I think we could try to set up for the studio. So I entered into it in that fashion. The studio has workshops and single classes, and they also have an outreach program into local high schools. Public education tends to trim their budget in the arts, and the studio helps with teaching kids.

TNT: What type of performances does the Actor's Studio usually put on?

GK: They have a lot of student productions that they put on, and then they do have two performance bases. One is a 99-seat black box theater and the other is a 50-foot cabaret space, which has couches, and you have a lot of student productions that go on. A lot of it is fringe theater. In Seattle I think fringe theater acts as a community theater, so they fulfill that role.

Like any other arts organization, they tend to be lacking in financial security. The Actor's Studio relies on grants and endowments, and they rely on people donating money and volunteering their time to help it run as an institution, and that's one of the reasons why I got involved. I started as a sole proprietor because it allowed me the flexibility to come in and freely trade business, and it reduces the liability on the studio. I think for them to get into a thrift store business, that's not their focus. Their focus is teaching and renting out their spaces for productions and fostering a theater community.

There's a side benefit of having a theater link to a thrift store. I think thrift stores are one of the greatest tools of costume designers. With the thrift stores that we have here, we've loaned out clothing or costumes to other theater productions in the area. We just helped a public high school. I believe they've done a couple of productions, and we've helped provide the costumes at no cost.

TNT: Do you solicit for donations through theater patrons?

GK: I've held myself back from actively pursuing donations in that way. I approach the business of the thrift store as more environmental. That's my perspective. I buy merchandise in bulk and then process it. I put out different stuff that I find and develop a quirky product. There's so much stuff out there that just goes to the landfill. We've been more active in buying as opposed to donation. The other thing is our locations aren't really set up for donations. We're in small stores. We don't have back doors. It's hard for a person to bring stuff in.

Our aim is not to appeal to the charitable side of the customer, but to appeal to the side of the customer that is looking for quality. I think our customers are looking for fashion pieces. We specialize in vintage clothing from the 80's, 70's, 60's, and we really do a very good trade in that, plus it does well for costumes for the theater productions. A lot of our advertisement has been word of mouth, so we have a lot of die-hard customers that come in regularly.

I think what every thrift store should focus on is return customers, repeat customers, and the best way to do that is by putting out a product that sells itself in a clean, organized environment. Thrifting is changing. I'm 31, and when I was in high school 15 years ago, it seemed like thrifting didn't have as good an image as it does now. And that's just ten years of change making it more popular.

TNT: How long has Backstage Thrift been open?

GK: Two of the stores opened five years ago. We're really dealing with no money. We're being really thrifty in our business, so growth is very slow for us. We opened up a third store to try to open our customer base and provide more solvency in business. We opened it up just a few months ago. We don't know if we're going to make it through the winter or the next couple of months, but if if we do, I think we'll be postured in the coming years. Plus, we're in really good neighborhoods, one being the University District, which is right near the University of Washington. We're the closest thrift store to the University of Washington and a real economically affordable thrift store for the students. We're also very close to Seattle University over in Capitol Hill. And of course, West Seattle is more of a central neighborhood.

TNT: As far as acting, what's the most recent thing you've done and what would be your ultimate role that you would want to do?

GK: My last stage role was Tennessee Williams' Streetcar Named Desire, and I played Stanley Kowalski's best friend who essentially got his heart broken by Blanche. My ultimate role? I don't know. I think when I'm older in the next couple of decades it will be a role that's perhaps a father or a leader role, something that's noble, maybe the remake of Spartacus.

TNT: Is there anything else you want to add?

GK: I think we need to cut down on our manufacturing and focus more on our reusing and recycling. We are so far behind in the United States. We're consuming way too much. I'm glad that you're helping to interest people in the thrift industry and the reusing of our products that we've already created.

In the 50's, of course, we mass manufactured so many products that were crap, and now we're paying for it environmentally. A lot of our gluttonous behavioral tendencies here in the United States, I lay it on the shoulders of the manufacturers. Being a thrift store shopper, or for me, being a thrift store owner, is combating that at the grassroots level. I have a vision that someday we can become so ethical in our standards that there's a thrift store on every neighborhood corner like 7-11. If we can ever get it to that level, then I think we would see a lot of our pettiness go away and maybe we'd develop some wisdom.

For more information about the Northwest Actors Studio, visit
http://www.nwactorsstudio.org

Back to Table of Contents

ZODIAC THRIFTER January Horoscope

Capricorn

A partner might not be contributing his or her share, but make sure you handle things delicately when discussing the situation. Be prepared for some crazy dreams this month that will have you waking up energized. By mid month it will be impossible for you to move slowly as your energy increases. You'll feel generous, but don't overextend yourself. Well-meaning friends and family will advise you against being generous beyond your means, and you should heed this advice. Take care of your own financial needs before you give away what you can't afford to. Keep in mind that a thrifted treasure can make just as much of an impact as an expensive new gift.

Aquarius

Your subconscious is ready to help you through your dreams, Aquarius. Keeping a dream journal might assist you in sorting out the problems of daily life. You'll be frustrated and irritable around the second week of January, but don't let it elevate into dramatics. Focus on a project that needs your attention and deal with your emotions quietly. Give yourself a day to relax and go thrifting to get your mind off your emotions. Your charm will only get you so far this month, so don't even think about trying to put one over on someone close to you. A serious talk dealing with the issues at hand will go a lot farther than a snow job.

Pisces

January is a great time for you to think about future plans, Pisces, and you might even be ready to make things official by the second week of the month. Don't move too fast with career-related matters. Look at things objectively and you'll see that you need to stop and think before responding to challenges at work. If you take it slow, you'll see that you might not be correct in your assumptions. Join a club or group that appeals to you and fulfills your intellectual and emotional needs. Maybe there are some thrifters near you that would be up for a day of shopping together. You might realize that you've outgrown your current friends or that they've outgrown you, so make an effort to mingle within your new group.

Aries

Get ready to be singled out for recognition by an authority figure in your life for your past efforts on their behalf. Use your elevated status to make an impression with colleagues and take this opportunity to mix business with pleasure and network your heart out. Go thrifting for some stylish business clothes to pump up your image. The second week of January will provide an occasion for you to speak up and let others know your thoughts and opinions, but be sure to remain diplomatic. You'll be caught up in a social whirl with invitations to meet special and influential people, and the higher-ups in your life will be pleased. You might even get caught up in a flirtatious romance.

Taurus

Money issues require your input and action. Family members are not as able as you are to find a solution for a tricky situation. At least you can bring clarity to the issues, and that's the main thing that's required right now. Be careful of a gift that comes with strings attached. Your family will be brought into the situation, and you should heed their words of caution. You'll feel caught in the middle when a compliment from a higher-up gets to the heart of something that's been bothering your family. Get everything out in the open and deal with it before feelings get hurt.

Gemini

Money will play a central role in your life for the first week of January. Someone knowledgeable will offer either money or money advice, so be ready to take it, Gemini. You'll have to walk on eggshells around romantic and business partners around the end of the first week of January. Try not to discuss anything major right now, as they might be pushy while you're feeling sensitive. Make sure you're not blocking out what you need to hear in the third week of January. Take care to listen carefully and not automatically because there might be a romantic message being sent. Business communications could get confused towards the end of the month, so pay close attention to the details of who, what, where, and when.

Cancer

You will find yourself agreeing more than usual with a person you work with. He or she might have a financial offer that looks really good. Take it easy in the second week of January and don't overwork yourself. You'll be focused, efficient, and detail-oriented, but it will be hard for you to pace yourself. Schedule some relaxation time and make sure you use it well. While away the hours in an out-of-town thrift store that you've been wanting to check out. There is the possibility of getting both a monetary gift and an unexpected bill this month, so think things out carefully and let your partner weigh in. Check out the facts before you pay for anything because you might not owe as much as you're told you do.

Leo

You'll be distracted by romantic thoughts in the beginning of January, and it will be easy to catch you daydreaming at work. Keep your cool and don't come on too strong in a romantic situation because you might scare that person away. Being passionate is fine, as long as you take it slowly. You'll go through a confusing period with mixed romantic signals, but try to stay positive and patient. Focus on business the last week of January. Making new contacts could bring a business proposal your way. Be sure you check out all the facts before signing anything, and don't be afraid to back out if things aren't up to your specifications.

Virgo

Your mind will be working overtime the first week of January, and artistic talents will begin to occupy your thoughts. Liven up your daily routine by finding new ways to perform hum-drum daily tasks. In the second week of the month, you'll have to resist the urge to make mountains out of molehills. If it all possible, wait for a more peaceful time before giving anything your full attention right now. You'll feel creative later in the month, and it's a good time to go ahead and indulge your ideas because you'll be able to give your visions practical use. Partnership can help the creative process, so encourage others to have their say, and don't be overly assertive in defending your ideas.

Libra

You could receive happy baby news early this month, either a child or a grandchild coming your way. If you start feeling upset about something mid-month, write your problem down on paper and then tear it up and throw it away. Focus on the good things in your life and be thankful for them. Events occurring after mid-month might affect your long-term plans. Your first reaction is to resist, but it's better to be flexible. Just don't make a hasty decision. You can re-work your long-term plans later. When solutions around dilemmas and challenges are offered, you should listen and offer your own opinions, but still leave everything on the back burner for now.

Scorpio

Now is the time for you to speak out, Scorpio. You can easily take the lead in presenting plans or ideas to others, and they will listen, especially your family. Don't spend money based on someone else's promise. Wait until you have the cash. You tend to solve problems by throwing money at them, and you need to rein it in now so you're prepared when the bills show up later. You'll feel pulled in both directions by family and career towards the end of the month. Work will demand extra time from you just when your family is wanting you to be around more. Do your best to juggle things, but make sure your family comes first. You'll be able to have calm, rational discussions and get everything settled.
Sagittarius

Get your accounts organized and take care of unpaid bills. Your organizational skills are at a peak right now, so take advantage of it. Clean out your closets and donate unwanted items to your favorite thrift store. You'll feel irritable and pushy in the second week of January, so use this energy it to carry out plans you've been working on for a while. By the third week of January, you'll have a much better way with words. This is the right time to approach someone whose help you want. Make sure you have the facts and figures to back up your request, though. You'll have to put extra effort into this problem and it will wear on you, but you'll feel better as time goes on if it's all for a good cause.

Back to Table of Contents

THRIFT KITTEN TIPS

BUYING SMALL APLIANCES

When thrifting there are many opportunities to buy small appliances. Everyone has seen dozens of coffee makers for sale, but which ones should you buy?
As often as possible, buy a name brand appliance. Often the manufacturer posts the user manuals for most of the late model appliances online.
When you can, try an appliance out in the store. Check for damaged cords and make sure there are no major cracks or breaks.

Back to Table of Contents

THRIFTED RECIPE



Pennsylvania Dutch Shoofly Pie

Have two 9-inch unbaked pie shells ready. Preheat oven to 350

Crumb Topping:
4 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. mixed spices: salt, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, mace
1/2 cup shortening (no butter)

Combine ingredients to form crumb mixture for pie topping.

Syrup Filling:
1 cup dark molasses
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup boiling water
3 eggs


Add baking soda to boiling water and stir to dissolve. Mix in molasses and eggs. Pour syrup filling into pie crusts, dividing portions equally. Sprinkle crumb topping over syrup mixture, dividing topping equally between the two shells. Leave a little "air" in the center of the pies to allow for expansion and to prevent mixture from boiling over. Bake 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes.

Back to Table of Contents