Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Definition of Junk

By: Jaymie Leighton
From: The Vintage Kitchen Mystery Series
Author: Victoria Hamilton
Book 1 Title: A Deadly Grind
Pub. Date: May 2012
I have this discussion all the time, and I always lose, at least when I'm talking to my mom or sister, Becca.

What is junk?

The definition clearly depends on who you are and what you like. I've got nothing against shiny-brand-new, but for things other than computers and appliances, I don't see the point. I'd rather re-use something from an era when things were made to last, than buy something brand new that was designed to decorate a landfill site in ten years.

So, my top five 'buy it old' items?

5 - Clothes: I do love a thrift store bargain, but so many people turn their noses up at used clothing. It's the thrill of the hunt for me, but you have to be willing to take a lot of time over it, to get quality clothes that fit well. If thrift stores ick you out, try consignment shops!

4 - Furniture: Gotta be careful here... no used mattresses, thank you very much, and any soft good, you have to be careful about. Likewise, wood items must be carefully inspected to be sure they are not carrying anything... um, moving.

3 - Pots and Pans: Who doesn't love Le Creuset? And those things are made to last forever, if you treat them right (kind of like friendships, right?) I bought a 2 Quart Dutch Oven used for $50. New and discounted at Williams Sonoma it was $165. 'Nuff said.

2 - Books: I know, who doesn't love a brand new book, no broken spine, fresh off the press? I love 'em, and when it comes to the romance novels I adore, if one of my favorite authors has a new one out, I'll buy it brand new. But there is nothing wrong with a used book store, and I have found some gems there, books that have led to new-to-me authors now on my auto-buy list that I would never have discovered if not for the used book store!

1 - Dishes and Serving Ware: I cannot understand buying new. Of course, it helps that my sister is in the 'rediscovered' or estate china business, as Becca calls it. But her stuff is high end. I'm talking about vintage Pyrex, Corning Ware, Lusterware, Fiesta, Depression glass... beautiful, durable and inexpensive. I know... you can't put them in the dishwasher, so I understand if you've got a big family, practicality wins out. My problem is how to stop buying. I want to rescue every piece of stray Pyrex I find, to get it a good home. Kind of like animals; Hoppy and Denver are both rescues, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

However... there is another, darker chapter in my collecting craze. This is where I can understand my sister and mother's objections, even as I keep collecting. I am creating a kind of display on the top of my vintage cabinets, and so I've been buying old commercial tins, like Calumet Baking Soda, Quaker Oats, that kind of thing, and sometimes the tins are kind of rusty. My mother and sister look at them in horror, but I like how they look.

I guess we'll never agree on everything. I point them to TV shows like American Pickers, and they point to TV shows like Hoarders.

So, what about you? Do you buy everything new? Is there anything you always buy used, or will NEVER buy used?


Check out Victoria Hamilton online:

NEW website! Victoria Hamilton Mysteries -
Twitter: @MysteryVictoria


  1. I like the sparse, minimalist look, so I tend to buy new, but I don't have many possessions. However, I make my own clothes and love to sew. Please don't peek into my closets. They're anything but sparse.

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  3. Hi again...deleted my earlier comment because I was too embarrassed by spelling your name wrong, Jaymie!!! It happens to me all the time. Anyway...what I said and still say is -- love this post. I often wander through flea markets, antique stores, consignments shops and used bookstores (would have fun owning one of these). I don't really understand the fascination with pre-owned items but it feels great to get that truly amazing 'find'.

  4. Hayley... what are these words you use... sparse? Minimalist? LOL. Not in my vocab.

    Erika... don't worry, everyone spells my name wrong. I've gotten Jamie, Jamey, and even, memorably, Jammy. Raspberry or Strawberry? Love antique stores, but they're usually too pricey for me. Give me a garage sale or a thrift store any day!

  5. Jaymie, I'm addicted to china and crystal, and I love getting good deals on them at garage sales and estate sales. I'm told that in my state, a used mattress can't be sold -- probably a good thing, huh? I have friends who collect rusted things, and I have to say that they always manage to arrange them so that they look cute. I don't have that talent.

    ~ Sophie

  6. Erika... now see, I misspelled Haylee's name in MY comment! So sorry Haylee!!

  7. I have never been a garage sale or thrift store or antique store kind of girl. But I DO love a great sale :-) Which reminds me, I need to declutter my own house. And no worries, Erika, I have a masters in English, yet I am the world's worst speller! I blame it on listening to my mother (who's from New York) and my father (who's from Oklahoma). Phonetically, I was doomed from the start. They say spell a word like it sounds...LOL...okay, words never sounded the same from either of them :-)

  8. Buying or gaining something used is the only way to go! My husband drives a trash route in the rurals and many people put their still usable good stuff right on top of the can for someone else to gain. We have obtained a mini HP laptop, many DVD players, tvs, clothing, home decor, bird feeders, books, the list goes on. No I don't feel funny about using someone else's "trash". Reduce, reuse, recycle. Most anything can be cleaned up well. For everything else, we look for it in thrift shops or at yard sales. I can't even imagine the money we have saved over the years.

  9. I love buying at garage sales, estate sales, thrift stores, consignment stores and used book stores. Like you, I cannot see buying most of these things new and spending so much more. Plus you find some really unique items you would never find in a big box chain store! It is all about the thrill of the hunt for me! Thanks for a fun post and a lively discussion.

  10. Kari... don't you hate misspelling names, though? That's the worst. I hate doing it, so I felt for Erika! And then I went and did the same thing... LOL!

    Oh, Anon, I so envy you! Maybe a trash collector would be my ideal beau!!!

    Maureen... all of the above... unique is the word!

  11. I like new things but I don't mind walking through thrift shops and finding that special purchase.

  12. Wow, great post! I have an embarrassingly large collection of old table linens, acquired over many years, some of which are beautiful enough for wall hangings. No paper napkins at my house! And I cherish old books with salutations from the giver to the sender, even if both must be long dead. Things loved or labored over give me a warm feeling that I am surrounded by interesting friends.

  13. Hey, Dru... have to confess, I do like new things, too!

    Periphera... I love old table linens... the quality is so much better than what you get now. In fact, Jaymie says as much in a scene in A Deadly Grind!! And I agree; you've said it beautifully about being surrounded by 'interesting friends'.