If you see something, buy something!

We often have customers ask us if we have anything else for sale, either upstairs or in our back room.  Or if we have an item in a different size.  And the answer is “no.”  We have a lot of items that WILL BE FOR SALE EVENTUALLY in both places, but if it’s not sitting out there on the sales floor with a price tag on it, it’s not available.  Except in rare cases (someone donated five pairs of pants in the same size and color), all our merchandise is one-of-a-kind.  We’re not like a department store, where, if someone buys the size 10 pink sweater, a sales clerk will bring out another one from the stockroom.

And this means:  IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, BUY SOMETHING.  That T-shirt, or jeans, or set of dishes that you like can’t be replenished from a central warehouse somewhere.  Once it’s sold, it’s gone.

We’ve all had the experience of looking back and thinking, “I wish I’d bought that purple dress,” or “that crockpot,” or “that green bracelet.”  (“I wish I’d bought a second house twenty years ago when prices were lower,” is a whole different category.)  Don’t regret the things you really want at the ALI thrift shop.  If you SEE something, BUY it!

Previously loved!

By Marta Mahoney

My son bought a used motorcycle last year, and he refers to it not as “previously owned,” but as “previously loved.”

That’s a good description for our merchandise at the ALI thrift store! It was all “previously loved” by someone who wanted it to go to a new home, instead of the trash bin. (Even those pants you found that still have the original price tag on them. The pants can’t help it that the person who loved them in the store put them in the back of their closet, and forgot they were there.)

People donate “previously loved” items to us for all kinds of reasons. The kids grow out of those baby outfits and turn into toddlers. Bigger kids go off to college and leave you with bins of toy cars. You change jobs, or you retire, and you have a closetful of clothing that you’ll never wear again. You’re no longer in your twenties, and you can’t wear 4-inch heels. You loved your fondue pot/pasta machine/food processor for many years, but your diet and cooking style have changed. You came in the thrift shop and found some fantastic holiday decorations, but there’s only so much room in the storage unit, so some of the old ones have to come back to the shop. We could go on and on.

Visit us soon and find some “previously loved” items that want to go home with you to be loved some more!

Can you guess how much a super bowl commercial costs?

Did you watch the Super Bowl last weekend? And did you watch the Super Bowl commercials?

I read that the cost of a Super Bowl commercial this year was $5,000,000 per minute. That’s $83,333 per second! To put that in perspective, ALI’s annual budget for Operation School Bell is about $112.000.

As you readers know, Operation School Bell is our largest community program. Through OSB, we provide school clothing and school supplies to low-income students in the Irvine School District. Last school yea,r we helped 750 students through this program.

You can do the math. $112,000 would buy one and 1/3 seconds of commercial time during the Super Bowl. If you blinked twice, you’d miss that 1 and 1/3 seconds. But you couldn’t miss the smiles on the faces of those 750 kids who got new backpacks and school clothes for the same price.

You can see those smiles, too, and you don’t even need a cable box – just come and join us at ALI. Visit our website at http://www.alirvine.org, or contact us at info@alirvine.org to find out more about our community programs and how you can help.

Vintage is the future!

At the Assistance League of Irvine thrift shop we get all kinds of retro, vintage, and just plain used items. “Retro,” “vintage,” and “mid-century modern” seem to be hot categories right now. For instance, the most popular specialty license plate at the DMV is the legacy yellow-on-black 1960s retro plate. I remember when I had an ORIGINAL license plate like that. If I’d only kept it. Like my miniskirts, my platform shoes, and my electric typewriter.

Browsing through the thrift shop can bring back many fond memories. Someone recently donated a whole set of vintage Corelle dishes. Every family I knew, when I was in junior high, bought a set of Corelle. Why? Because . . . You could put them in the dishwasher! My friends and I were ecstatic. No more evenings of washing china dishes by hand while your younger brothers and sisters hogged the TV. (The TV, which had a dial on it. Not a remote.)

If you want to return to those thrilling days of yesteryear, stop by the thrift shop. We have the good (fondue pots), and the ugly (lava lamps). We don’t have the bad, because anything that isn’t in good enough condition to sell in our shop is passed on in turn to the Salvation Army.   And because there’s no such thing as a bad donation – there’s a use for everything somewhere.

Just in case you’re wondering they still make Corelle! It comes in pretty patterns now that go well with today’s decor. Maybe we should all buy some so that we’re prepared for the vintage trend in 2075.

Financial Literacy 101 tip: Bargain Shop

April is almost here! And that means . . . Tax Day, which is Monday, April 18th this year.

April (undoubtedly because Tax Day makes everyone think about finances) is also Financial Literacy Month. “Financial literacy” means you have the skills to manage money in everyday life: you can prepare and follow a budget, manage a bank account, understand home or auto loan terms, and compare credit card interest rates.

One of the first things financially literate people learn is how to live within their budget, and that means finding bargains. These are the customers who come to our thrift shop! They know that they can find good-quality, hardly-worn women’s and men’s clothing at significantly lower prices than the mall. They know we always have a fantastic selection of children’s clothing and toys. They check out our linens, housewares, and glassware. They know that money they save shopping with ALI, is money they can use for something else in their lives!

There are lots of resources in the library or on the internet to help you improve your financial literacy, but start with that first step: make shopping at the ALI thrift store part of your financial plan!


Yes, New Year’s Day is over, but it’s not too late to make those New Year’s Resolutions for 2016. And just to help our readers out, according to ABC News, the top five resolutions for 2016 are:

  1. Enjoy life to the fullest
  2. Live a healthier lifestyle.
  3. Lose weight.
  4. Spend more time with family and friends.
  5. Save money, spend less.

The ALI thrift shop can help you meet these goals!

#1: We like to think our shoppers ALREADY enjoy life to the fullest. Our shoppers are curious and always ready for something new, because they come in every Wednesday morning just to see what interesting treasures we’ve put out on the shelves over the weekend. They’re smart, because they know they can save a lot of money shopping with us. They’re courageous, because many of them face daily challenges in life and the thrift shop helps them stretch their dollars to meet those challenges. They’re confident and they think for themselves, because they have no problem wearing designer jeans with a sweater they bought at the shop (and have no problem telling their friends where they bought the sweater). They have lots of hobbies, because they buy sports equipment, crafting supplies, and books. They love their families and their friends, because they’re always spotting a T-shirt, or a toy, or a little necklace that they just HAVE to get, because “it would be perfect for my daughter” (or my grandson, or my neighbor). They care about others, because they bring us lots and lots of great donations that we can sell at the shop to pay for our philanthropic programs.

Our shoppers can also check off #4. Think of all those hours that are freed up when you’re not circling around the parking structure at the mall!

Our shoppers OBVIOUSLY have #5 covered, because where else can you find prices like ours?

See how easy that was? Just by shopping at the thrift store, you’ve fulfilled 60% of your New Year’s Resolutions!

(And if you really want to work on #2 and #3, we have plenty of “healthy lifestyle” cookbooks to get you started . . .)




By ALI Member, Marta Mahoney

I just spent an afternoon at the beauty salon. Naturally, while at the beauty salon I read a fashion magazine. It was a brand-new issue featuring the latest fall styles. Each page showed a trendy fall dress, sweater, skirt, or coat, accompanied by a sidebar reading, “Wear this with . . . ” showing possible shoes, boots, or purses that would complete the outfit.

All this was pretty standard fashion-magazine stuff, except that most of the shoes, boots, and purses came with the note, “Price upon request.” (And this wasn’t even a high-end fashion magazine!) Now I don’t know about you, but my clothing budget isn’t based on “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”

At the thrift shop, we don’t have ANYTHING that says, “Price upon request.” Yes, we occasionally have items where the tag has fallen off, and in that case we will take the item to the back room to be re-priced. Yes, we occasionally have items where the price sticker has been put in some obscure spot, but eventually we’ll find it. Yes, we have fragile items in our display cases where you will need to ask one of our volunteers to take the item out so you can see the price sticker, but the price will be there!

And even if you HAD to ask the price – at the thrift shop, you could afford it!

Bottom line: Read the magazines to scout the latest fall fashions. Then come to the thrift store to see what you can find that will be totally in style, without your having to ASK if it fits your pocketbook.

Where can you ride your bike in Irvine? Try this map.

Happy family wearing helmets on a bicycle ride at the park together

The City of Irvine provides a network of on-street and off-street bikeways to encourage the use of bicycles as a safe and convenient means of transportation for both commuting and recreational purposes. This is evident by 301 lane miles of on-street and 54 miles of off-street bikeways provided in the City today. Click here for more information on cycling Irvine. 

Bike Map

14 amazing hammocks you need to nap in…

Summer is well on its way and the warm outside is calling your name. Hammocks are a relaxing way to chill and enjoy all that nature has to offer. Pick up a book, play some music, put your feet up and fall back into these hammock ideas. Happy resting!

 Click here for more Hammock inspiration. All photos via PINTEREST