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Tucson Weekly Second-Hand To None

How To Score At The Thrift Stores

By Stacey Richter

SEPTEMBER 8, 1997:  SO, YOU AGING hipsters in your Mennonite eyeglasses, you impoverished college students with your cheese-caked toaster ovens--you think you know all the nuances of rooting through piles of discarded junk for groovy, grease-coated gems? Think again, customers. Al Hoff, creator of the zine ThriftSCORE, has written a spirited guide highlighting the suspense, glory and disappointment of the dedicated bargain-hunter. Hoff seems sincerely obsessed with digging through piles of paperbacks, shirts and dishware for pearls of great price: A Saturday Night Fever polyester shirt! A piece of Franciscan dishware! Sure, you can get this stuff full-price at vintage and antique stores, but Hoff, plucky heroine of her own shopping drama, conveys the sheer cathartic pleasure of stalking, rooting and finally pouncing upon a set of genuine Star Wars bed sheets--for 49 cents! Hoff's hints are occasionally obvious (good lamps and good shades often need to be bought separately), but her keen eye and deep love of junk reveal veins of gold in what you thought was a disgusting pile of trash, like the special sections devoted to dead fads--disco, Tiki parties, CB radios and "Literals," '70s housewares that labeled the obvious: Anyone for a bowl that says "bowl" on it? Hoff emphasizes that a good thrift score needn't be collectible, rare or valuable to anyone but the shopper, and argues against paying high prices for other people's alluvium. Real essays on the history of selected junk--such as the rise and fall of Big Eye paintings (those pathetic little waifs)--give this book substance; but it is really Hoff's buoyant spirit that makes Thrift Score a fun read, for veteran and neophyte thrift-store shoppers. "What if somebody died in those clothes?" anti-thrifters ask. "What if somebody famous died in these clothes?" counters Hoff.

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