Thursday, January 12, 2012

Those Kind of People

Being referred to as one of "those kind of people" isn't anything new to me. You're still breastfeeding your 2 year old? Oh, you're one of those kind of people. You don't eat meat? Oh, you're one of those kind of people. You have compassion for addicts and the mentally ill? Oh, you're one of those kind of people. You voted for Obama? Oh, you're one of those kind of people. You don't clean with bleach? Oh, you're one of those kind of people.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. It usually doesn't even phase me to be one of "those kind of people," but when I heard this clip from a local radio station, I practically needed a forklift to get my jaw back up where it belongs.

For the link shy, or in case the link stops working, it is a clip of city council member Marilyn Wigdahl explaining one of the reasons she's opposed to a new Goodwill store opening up on our city's South side. She says:
With another Goodwill store here, and I...and I understand your...your concerns about helping the...the indigent and so on. But I also know that the more we do for people, the more people like that we bring into the city, and I don't think the city can handle too many more of those kind of people either. 
Those kind of people. Our city can't handle more of those kind of people? The kind of people who shop at thrift stores? The kind of people who support good causes by donating to or spending their money at such places?

I'm not sure what kind of person Marilyn is (though I could venture some guesses, based on that sound bite), but I have a pretty good idea of what kind of person I am, and to say that the notion that the city can't handle too many more of people like me is offensive is the understatement of forever.

I shop at Goodwill. I donate to Goodwill. I am those kind of people. Those kind of people who own property in this city and pay outrageous taxes on it. Those kind of people who work two jobs that serve this community. Those kind of people who value conservation, and the three "R's", Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Those kind of people who are on a tight budget and stretch their dollars by checking places like Goodwill first before they buy new. Those kind of people who work to teach their kids to be responsible with their money, to spend it wisely, to have compassion for others, and to give of themselves as they are able.

I'm not alone. I'm not an anomaly. I happen to know and love a lot of "those kind of people".

People like Kym, a military wife and mother, who says:

I shop at thift stores for various reasons. 1. I like a good bargain. 2. I like being able to give my money to an organization (like Goodwill) which provides job and various other services to people who need them. 3. I like buying 2nd hand because of the environmental benefits. 

We are a military family and while we aren't on a "tight" budget, I firmly believe in making every dollar stretch. We are on a journey towards being debt free (we should be debt free by summer!) and making wise decisions about how we spend our money is an important part of that. Why should I pay $50 dollars for a pair of GAP jeans when I can find them at Goodwill for $4 and put the rest of that $46 dollars towards savings, getting out of debt sooner or towards something better for my family? To me, that's just common sense.

People like Amy, a peace advocate and parent educator, who says:

We shop at thrift stores for many reasons... to find unique, soft, gently worn in close to new condition clothes at really reasonable prices, to reduce our impact on the environment through no need for new packaging and advertising as well as reusing items that are still in very usable condition. I like that used clothes are already washed and broken in so there's no chance of uncomfortable shrinkage. The kids like that they can get more for less. Sometimes we can find clothes and household items at a thrift store that have personality instead of just being part of the latest fad (not that some family members aren't lured to new purchases by fads). I also love filling bags of still usable items to take to the thrift store when we go. It feels good to give also.

People like Leah, a Masters level educated University Librarian, who says:

I love shopping at thrift stores for unique home decorations and craft project supplies. Goodwill always has a nice selection of vases, candle sticks, picture frames, holidy themed items, etc. I don't really think specifically about shopping at a "thrift store", Goodwill is just another stop on my regular route of places to browse and hunt for interesting things.Also, we donate our own gently used clothes and household items to Goodwill when we are ready to say goodbye to them. I like being on both sides of the "someone's trash is someone else's treasure" notion!

People like Ameya, a single mother and student, who says:

 I used to love retro thrift store clothes but now I mostly like it for interesting house decorations. It makes more sense to go clothes shopping at thirft stores for my toddler who outgrows his clothes too quickly to spend 18$ on an outfit.

People like Maija, a professor with a PhD in Health and Social Psychology, who says:

Why would i drop $65 on pants that i can get for $5 with the added bonus of knowing how they'll hold up in the laundry? I get great deals on well-made wool, silk, etc. clothes that other people buy but are afraid to wear because they have weird care instructions. And impulse kitchen gadgets are way more practical to thrift than buy off late night tv.

People like Maegen, a doula and expectant single mother, who says:

I shop at thrift stores right now because it's what I can afford. I shop at thrift stores when I can afford more because I hate to pay full price for anything. I hate consumerism. Why would I go to Target or Sears or Baby Gap to shop for my son and pay $10-$40 for something that I can find for $1.50 at Unique Thrift? He'll grow out of it in 2 weeks anyhow. I don't want to be a sucker. I want to participate in that game as little as possible. But then there's the excitement of thrifting. What little treasure will I find today? Some of my most beautiful pieces in my wardrobe are thrift finds. I bought a gorgeous Mission-style bedframe for $12.50 + $1.36 for bolts at a half-off day at the Brown Elephant. I'm sure it's a $400 bed. Also, when I'm pretty close to broke and I'm having the urge to shop (I would say that I have had an addiction to retail in the past. The urge for 'retail therapy' is still intense sometimes.) I can go to the thrift store and squash that need with $10 instead of $100.

People like Leah, a full-time working mother, who says:

I actually donate more often than I shop, but that is mainly because I do not have much money to shop with. I am married and work a professional full-time job, but we live on one income. My husband cannot work due to medical issues. He takes care of our toddler daily so we don't have to pay for daycare. We are not home owners; we rent. We get some state financial assistance, but it isn't much. We still struggle. And, we do not spend any money on cigarettes, drugs, or even alcohol.

What's wrong with those kind of people? What's wrong with people who are hard working, environmentally conscious, altruistic, creative, financially responsible, educated, and conscious about just how and where there dollars are spent?  I've lived in this city for 25 years, and I would welcome oodles more of those kind of people to my city. They're welcome to move into my quiet, modest neighborhood, with a Goodwill store in easy walking distance. What this city can't handle any more of are people with misguided, offensive, classist attitudes like the one Ms. Wigdahl espoused.

Ms. Wigdahl, I am one of those kind of people, and I do believe you owe us an apology.

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  1. That actually made me really upset. I'm one of those kinds of people too. When I had to flee my home with just a suitcase and gamble on a new life, I turned to Goodwill for clothing, furniture, dishes. Everything. Now that things are better for me, I donate to Goodwill often, but I still shop there regularly too because I try to live "reduce, reuse, recycle" instead of turning to new products at every opportunity. Am I one of those people? I'm a mom, a wife, and a partner at a law firm.

    1. I was so upset when I initially wrote this that I made myself wait to post it because I knew I wrote some things from a place of anger. I refined some of the more inflammatory parts before publishing in the interest of demonstrating the civility of "those kind of people".

  2. Wow well she's greatly misinformed, I work at one of "Those" stores. Does she know how far reaching the money is and how many people besides "those" people it helps? Ha well jokes on her. Thats all Im going to say about it.

    1. I was unclear as to whether she was referring to the clientele or the people that Goodwill helps. I chose to believe it is the former because the latter is so much more offensive.

  3. Hope to see you shopping at one of "those" stores soon! Thanks for supporting the mission!

  4. Exactly!
    I wish I would have responded to you while you were researchinf 'those kind of people'

    I'm a college student paying for my tuition alone. I don't get financial assistance because my parents make too much (though their income doesn't support my schooling or housing, or food, or insurance, or electric bill, etc). I work FOUR part-time jobs to keep me afloat and I shop at thrift stores for the same reasons everyone else listed: save $, help the environment. And there's absolutely no shame in that!

    1. I encourage you to write her a respectful e-mail and let her know your reaction Kelsey! :)

  5. ummm WOW! I am definitely one of "those kind of people" I shop at AND donate to stores such as Goodwill and Salvation Army all the time and like all the others here are many different reasons to do it from saving a buck to keeping perfectly good reusable things out of landfils.
    "Some people" are obviously far too out of touch with the real world and apparently have more money than they know what to do with.

    1. Thanks for your comment Christy! She definitely does appear to be out of touch with what thrifters are all about!

  6. Wow! I hadn't seen anything about this. I've mentioned Goodwill many times on my Monday Minimalist series. I love taking my stuff there. What amazes me is that she is overlooking the people that Goodwill helps - aside from shoppers! What about the people (with Down syndrome, for instance) who are able to get help with training and finding a job that suits them? Wow, maybe she would rather hire them all herself so as to avoid thrifty people. Sheesh!

    1. I mentioned this in a previous comment, but I was unclear on if she was referring to the shoppers or the people that Goodwill helps. I am giving her the benefit of the doubt (which feels like a very strange thing to say in this situation) that she was talking about the shoppers, because the alternative is just so much more offensive.

  7. I too am one of "those kinds of people!" My husband & I, despite both working full time, still have to stretch every dollar in our budget so thrift stores come in handy. Additionally, thrift stores are great finds for things I can use to craft with, as well as be environmentally friendly.

    I think that woman is a classist loon and someone ought to put her in her place. How disgusting.

    1. I e-mailed her this post, and several others local to me have e-mailed her. I'm hoping that we can gently educate her and that she'll understand just how wrong her sentiment was.

  8. Have you heard anything, Joella? This was really disheartening to read :(

    1. I haven't. :( I also sent a letter to the editor at the local paper, which was published today. Hopefully that will get her attention!


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