The Thrift Whisperer: Interview with Kim Holcomb

by Katherine Boury, Seattle Goodwill
July 29, 2014

You probably know Kim Holcomb as a reporter for King 5’s Evening Magazine, but did you also know she is a dedicated thrift shopper? She has her own blog, The Thrift Whisperer, that focuses on her unique finds – including my personal favorite (the vintage Trifari ring that she bought at the South Lake Union Goodwill). Kim shares some of her best finds and tips for shopping thrift.

How did you start shopping thrift?
My first experiences were at thrift stores in Venice Beach during high school, in search of worn denim. But I didn’t make thrifting an essential part of my lifestyle until I moved to Seattle. My sister-in-law gets full credit for introducing me to Goodwill, especially for kids’ clothing!

You have a personal blog, the Thrift Whisper, that you share some of your best purchases. Why did you start the blog and what kind of feedback do you receive?
It all began with a few photos I posted on Instagram, showing off what I’d found and listing the prices. People went bananas. So I decided to begin blogging as a way to better explain my purchases, and encourage others to try re-sale shopping. One day at work, my friend Jessica admired a bag I’d found at Goodwill and said “You’re like a thrift whisperer.” And the name of my blog was born!

You include the prices of your purchases on your blog. Do you find that your readers are surprised that you can put together a stylish outfit for such a reasonable price?
I think that’s the biggest point of interest, for sure. My friends who live in places outside Western Washington are consistently impressed by the variety and quality of items I thrift, as well. I think we live in a unique market for re-sale. People support sustainability and donate some amazing things.

What are some of your favorite finds?
It’s hard to narrow them all down! But I’d say my absolute favorites are a vintage Celine bag I bought for $50; a vintage wicker clutch by Italian brand Rodo I found for only $8; a vintage watch-ring by Trifari for just $6.50; and a hand-beaded cocktail dress by designer Carmen Marc Valvo that retails for $800, which I bought for only $80.

If someone was new to shopping thrift what tips would you give them?
First and foremost, go with someone who can help you navigate the store. Thrifting can be overwhelming, especially for people who are used to sales clerks and traditional store racks. It’s also important to know brands and retail prices, so you’ll have a good grasp of the savings (and understand why some things cost a little more than others.) Be patient. Go often. Pay attention to the tag colors - I’ve saved a TON of money by limiting myself to 50% off tags. And finally, don’t buy something if you can’t use it immediately. It’s not a bargain if it just sits in your closet!

Do you have a store you shop more frequently? 
My favorite location is in South Lake Union - it’s like a boutique, and I’ve had the best luck finding accessories and brand new shoes there. I also shop Ballard frequently because it’s large and has a great selection of housewares. (I’ve gotten some great dresses there, too!)

How would you define Northwest style?
In my mind, Northwest style means finding multiple ways to express yourself through clothing. Since we have no choice but to layer 9 months a year, we have to think about outerwear as much as our primary outfit. But that gives us so many more ways to make a statement! I love mixing patterned tights, slouchy beanies, and statement scarves in the winter.

What inspires you?
I’m inspired by the thrill of the thrifting hunt; clean lines and muted colors; unique jewelry and high heels; my friends and co-workers’ senses of style; and a few select fashion blogs. Thrifting is a great way to save money, recycle, and find your authentic style. Have fun!

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Family Health & Safety Fair

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
July 23, 2014

There is a lot to navigate in the world of healthcare! This Friday, we’d like to help you with some of those topics at our Family Health & Safety Fair! Come out to our Administrative Services building in Seattle on Friday, July 25 from 10am – 3pm for resources, information, free health screenings, free food, prize drawings, and activities for kids. All ages are more than welcome to attend!

We’ve partnered with a number of local organizations (listed below) to provide information and resources on health and safety. At the fair, there will be professionals you can talk to about medical coverage, worker safety, diabetes, breast cancer, and much more. You’ll also be able to get a free screening for blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, and body mass index (BMI). If you’re a woman over the age of forty, you may also be able to get a free mammogram and pap screening provided by the YWCA. Mammograms and pap tests are limited, and available by appointment only. You can call 206-461-4493 to check availability and make an appointment.

This event is open to the public, and we’d love to see you there! Don’t miss out on this opportunity to get connected with the health and safety resources that you need!

Exhibiting Partners Include:
OSHA  |  Molina Healthcare  |  Washington State Department of Labor & Industries  |  Local Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County  |  Seattle | King | Snohomish YWCA  |  Swedish Medical Center  |  Breast, Cervical, and Colon Health Program  |  Univision – KUNS Seattle  |  Susan G. Komen for the Cure Puget Sound

RSVP and get event updates here: 

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Thrifting is more fun than traffic

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
July 22, 2014

It has come to our attention that our summer of traffic is supposed to be rather busy today. With Westbound I-90 down to one lane this week, President Obama in town, a Mariner’s game, and construction projects all over the northern Puget Sound region—it’s pretty likely that if you’re out and about at a high-traffic time, you might get caught in it.

With 24 stores all over the north Puget Sound region, Seattle Goodwill has got some places you can take a break from the traffic and get a little Summer Thrifting done. Here are some of our tips to ease your commute:

1. Pick a side of Lake Washington, and stay there.  
With uncertainties about where POTUS will be commuting, there’s the potential for 520 to be closed while I-90 West Bound is down to one lane. If you can avoid crossing the lake, do. In the meantime, if you’re stuck on the east side, check out our Bellevue store or head south to our Renton store, and avoid using West Bound 90 altogether. If you’re on the west side, out Seattle store is located just off of the 90/I-5 interchange in the International District.

2. Avoid the Mercer Mess.
Getting on I-5 at rush hour is no fun any day of the week, but with many people heading around Lake Washington rather than over it, there’s potential for a LOT of backed up traffic. Instead, stop by our South Lake Union store—and then take Fairview to the Mercer entrance ramps when you’re done. OR—swing up to our Capitol Hill store (with free parking!) and hop on I-5 from the Olive/Denny ramps when you’re done.

3. Plan for game day traffic.  
There’s a 7:10pm Mariner’s game against the Mets at Safeco. Fortunately, the largest Goodwill in the country sits right up Dearborn from the stadiums—and is open until 9pm.  

4. When the freeways get backed up, so do surface streets.
Most locals know that when I-5 and 520 get backed up, so do the surface streets. If you’re one of those I-5 avoiders who takes the stoplights over the gridlock through Northgate and the U District, take some time off from needing to choose between getting stuck behind left-turner or a right-lane bus, and stop in at Goodwill on the Ave in the U-District.

And don’t forget to bring a snack, a water bottle, and some calming music on your commute! It’s going to be a busy day for Seattle-area traffic—but you don’t have to wait in it!

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Bringing instruments back to life: Mike & Mike’s Guitar Bar

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
July 21, 2014

Michael James Adams is something of a guitar whisperer. He is half of the Mikes behind Mike & Mike’s Guitar Bar and spends his days breathing life back into fretted stringed instruments. With our Summer Online Music Festival going on—where you can buy a wide variety of used instruments (and includes a Bumbershoot ticket giveaway), we thought we should sit down with an expert and talk instrument refurbishment and what to look for when buying a used instrument online.

How did you get started bringing instruments back to life?
I started back in 1997 when I was in a band with a bunch of guys whose guitars would frequently break, and they were all too scared of breaking something and I was the only intrepid soul they knew that was able to take them apart and put them back together again. And when I was growing up I had the worst guitars ever. Every three or four weeks my first guitar, an Ibanez Silver Cadet, would need to be rewired or something would break. One thing that I do when I don’t know how to do something is I’ll just do it to my own guitar. That’s how I learned.

Are thrift shops and places like Goodwill a big part of your business?
The used and thrift market is a great resource for us. In some ways the things we’re looking for fly under the radar. Our shop looks for a very specific kind of instrument—like Fender Jazzmasters, weird Japanese guitars from the 1960s. Finding those will generally take us to Goodwill—a lot of players don’t see them as collectible, but they sound amazing and because of bands like Jack White and The Black Keys these instruments are super popular.

What do you look for in thrifted instruments that you don’t get to play before buying?
A ton of pictures available that’ll show me a variety of angles on the guitar. From all of my experience, I’ve learned what a broken neck looks like—or what a crack that’s been cleverly hidden looks like. Replaced parts are a big red flag for us. In the vintage guitar world originality is kind of paramount. I don’t generally expect that it’s going to have the original case, hangtag, and set of strings, or any of those things—what I do expect is that it’s got its basic core—the wood, the finish, the original integrity of the piece is still there. Everything from there I can address pretty easily. Sometimes we’ll buy a guitar from a thrift shop, and we’ll source the original parts, bring it back to stock, and sell it.  

Have you ever come across an instrument you couldn’t refurbish?
There was an acoustic guitar that came through a while back that someone’s friend had stepped through.

It looks like that brings you a bit of sadness.
It does. The intention is to nurse these things back—to be caretakers. That guitar is going to well outlast me. It’s going to be handed down to my kids, it’s going to be sold somewhere else. An instrument is going to live on a lot longer than I will. I always try to be very respectful to the original design of the guitar.

Do you have a Cinderella story of a thrifted instrument?
A friend brought in a 64 Jaguar—one of my favorite guitars in the world— and every fret had been pulled and reseated. The wiring was absolutely horrible, nothing original on the guitar. We took this guitar—it took about two months—got all of the original parts, did a complete re-fret on it—completely rewired it, new pickups, new bridge. In the end it was incredible.

What is your fantasy Goodwill find?
I would like to find an original 1960s—doesn’t matter what year, as long as it’s before 1966—original 1960s Fender Jaguar or Jazzmaster in Charcoal Frost Metallic—which is the rarest color that Fender ever put on an old guitar like that in the 60s. It’s this beautiful metallic black-gray with a little bit of blue mixed in. It’s got this steely hue to it and to me it’s the most alluring color out there.

1964 Fender Jaguar Cinderella Story Refurbishment 


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Eastside Treasures – Interview with Rebecca Klein

by Katherine Boury, Seattle Goodwill
July 16, 2014

Bellevue resident Rebecca Klein created her lifestyle blog Eastside Fashion to focus on what is unique and fashionable on the Eastside. She also enjoys shopping thrift and visiting the Bellevue Goodwill.

Your blog Eastside Fashion highlights your creativity with fashion.  How has your style evolved since you started blogging?

My style has definitely changed throughout the past almost four years of blogging, I'd say it has become more girly-girl stylish. I used to never wear skirts and now they fill up half my closet.

You reference the Eastside on your blog which is where you live.  What is the difference between fashion on the Eastside and Seattle? 

I would say every city has their own unique style! But, between the Eastside vs Seattle, I'd say the Eastside is a little more on trend with fashion compared to Seattle which has more of a hipster-like fashion! Nothing wrong with either!

What are some of your favorite finds from Goodwill?

When I went to the Bellevue Goodwill, I found three very stylish dresses for under $20! They were all in such good shape too!

What makes the Bellevue Goodwill fun to shop? 

I loved shopping at the Bellevue Goodwill! It is so close to downtown and it a huge store! They sell everything from shoes to furniture to fabulous clothes!

If someone was new to shopping at Goodwill do you have any suggestions to offer for shopping thrift?

Yes! I recommend knowing the hottest trends before you shop so you can find the latest fashion. Another tip is take your time, don't hurry or you will miss a fashion treasure! Last tip is when you see it, grab it! The trendiest items sell fast! 

Where do you get your inspiration?

I get my inspiration for magazines, other fashion bloggers and by attending fashion shows! 

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