How To Find Vintage Cowboy Boots For $16 (And 6 Other Lessons From the Thrift Store)

Earlier this week, I was driving back from a part of the world I don't usually visit. On the way back, near Alabaster (about 30 miles from Birmingham) I saw a sign for America's Thrift Store. Exit left. Well, I think I'll do that. (I'd planned to spend the afternoon organizing my home office, but something told me to switch gears.)

Lesson #1:

Look for signs. and

Lesson #2

Be open to changing your plans at a moment's notice.

The parking lot was packed and the store was huge. Walking through the first few rows I started to wonder if I'd made a good decision. (Actually, I started to wonder if trips like this were detracting from my larger plan of managing my time to achieve my goals, like carving out time to work on a home office, which I dream will become a Zen-like place to write the great American novel and have a place to pay bills that normally are scattered about the house.) But, walking past these treasure chotchskies, I decided to shush the voices of the personal development experts for a moment. They weren't in the presence of decorative porcelain cats. Purrrr.

But I digress. Pushing my self-development angels/demons aside, I walked on through to the furniture, only to find this number. Bingo.

I've been wanting a chair like this since being inspired by my friend Stephanie's Craiglist find (check out how she re-did hers.) This one was $6! And as much as I'd coveted hers, I hadn't actively been looking for one of my own. Which brings me to:

Lesson #3

Know your style, your needs, what you can use, what you can leave behind and what you must keep.

Pleased with my find, I kept walking, only to find these more treasures, which had to come home with me. The deer is missing an ear, but that doesn't matter.

Lesson #4

There's beauty in the imperfect.

I debated buying this one, but knew that I would regret it if I didn't. I needed these delightful fonts and 70s  pollution messages on a beer stein. (OK, maybe not "need," but it will bring some design inspiration to my office.)

Lesson #5:

Will you regret not doing it?

I also found a cute skirt and three Ralph Lauren shirts for Nate (total $8 for all those pieces). I resisted buying this record. Upon further reflection, wondering if that was a good decision:

But I pushed on, moving toward the shoes. There was one pair of gold, but sadly not in my size. Pleased with the treasures I had found, I thought about calling it a day and not going down the final row of shoes tucked in the corner.

Lesson #6

Leave no stone unturned.

It was there I found these:


Like manna from boot heaven, the little puppies are the real deal, gorgeous leather, all broken in, and ... $16. (Actually $16.98, but who's counting.) At an 8.5, they were perfect, since I wear a 7.5 but one goes up a size in boots. Like something one would find in a Nashville vintage shop but cheaper, and in a thrift store in Alabaster.

I'm wearing them today. They smell all leathery and musty and wonderful. I hope that the smell never goes away. I will wear them as I write my novel. The office, however, is another story.

Related Links:

Nashvegas 3.10: Vintage Finds and Roving Hula Hoopers

The Mandatory Margarita Club Strikes Again: Adventures in Boldness and Boots 

West Texas Redux