Welcome to Irvine, aka ‘Little Seattle’

Irvine is having so much rain right now I’m starting to think we should re-name Irvine “Little Seattle.”  Here in Southern California, we’re not used to entertaining ourselves on days when it’s too stormy to even drive to the mall.  After an hour of “Storm Watch Breaking News,” on TV, it gets boring.  What can you do?

The ALI thrift store can give you lots of ideas for rainy-day activities.  You’ll have to make a trip to the shop BEFORE it rains, but you were planning to do that anyway, right?

For kids:

  • We always have miscellaneous craft supplies, and with some scissors and glue the kids can put their creativity to work.  (You’ll have to clear off the dining room table, but you can put all that stuff back once it stops raining.)
  • Pick out some of our more unusual or vintage-look clothing and keep it in a “dressing up” box.  The kids can make up a play where this box provides costumes and props. 
  • Board games and jigsaw puzzles are rainy-day staples. We’re constantly getting new donations of games and puzzles, and these are fun activities for the whole family.
  • For the grown-ups:
  • This is the time to try out that espresso machine/panini maker/blender/set of cookie cutters in the shape of flowers that you found at the thrift shop on your last visit.
  • This is the time to start that knitting project/sewing project/scrapbook that you found supplies for at the thrift shop on your last visit.
  • If you just feel like curling up by the fire, we have books, books, books! (Lots of kids’ books, too!) And DVDs!

Don’t worry – it will stop raining eventually.  But in the meantime, the thrift shop has plenty of things to keep you and your family busy!

Be My Valentine <3

We want to remember all the holidays,  so this is your official reminder that Valentine’s Day is February 14.

Now if you’re like me, you just got the credit card bill for everything you bought for Christmas. Or Hanukkah. Or your Rose Bowl party. Or Chinese New Year. Or Vietnamese New Year. And you still have your Super Bowl party and your annual ski trip over President’s Day weekend coming up.

Somehow your Valentine’s Day gifts have to be squeezed into your budget. If you’re planning to propose to your true love, our advice is to be judicious without being chintzy, forego the big screen HD TV until Super Bowl LII, and spend your money on the ring instead. For all the rest of you, our advice is to check out the ALI thrift shop.   We have beautiful costume jewelry, crystal, collectibles, Valentine cards, and much, much more. You’re sure to find something that will make your significant other’s heart beat faster, without overwhelming your budget!

You never know!

I’ve been watching that TV series “The Crown,” about the young Queen Elizabeth II in the early days of her reign. (And it’s a relief to watch a TV show about a royal family where you don’t have to worry if the main character will be killed off before the end of the episode.). The real Queen Elizabeth is 91 now, and to most of us it seems that she’s always been a kindly elderly woman with a big purse, a hat, and her pet corgis. As we tend to do when considering our own elderly relatives, we forget that she was once an eager young woman, full of curiosity about the world and finding her place in life.

I’ve concluded that the young Elizabeth would have felt right at home in our thrift shop. Obviously, she would never have done her own shopping, or have had to count her pennies and shillings. But she grew up in the years of the Great Depression and World War II, when shortages, rationing, and making do with less were part of daily life.   She was a Girl Guide (the British version of the Girl Scouts), whose promise includes the words “to be of service to my community.” At 18, like other women of her generation giving to the war effort, she joined the Women’s Auxiliary of the British Army and trained to be a mechanic. She would have completely sympathized with ALI’s mission to to support needy families in our own community. And had she been a non-royal ordinary British housewife, she would have been thrilled at the bargains in our shop!

In real life, you’re not going to meet Queen Elizabeth in our thrift shop – but you’ll meet many women (and men) who share her devotion to their community. You’ll meet other shoppers who may not have struggled through World War II, but who understand the value of quality merchandise at an affordable price. And you can put away the money you save for a supply of popcorn for Season 2 of “The Crown!”

NEW YEAR’S SHOPPING THOUGHTS

I spent yesterday at our local internationally-famous mall, checking out their “end-of-year” sales. The parking lot was full, the mall was packed, there was a line of 20 people waiting to get into the Starbucks, and everybody (except for the woman carrying a puppy) was carrying bags of merchandise. Now everyone (except for the puppy and some babies) was in a happy, festive mood. But as I looked at all the shopping bags, I wondered: how much of this stuff do these people actually need? (We’re not counting the puppy. Puppies need homes.)

At our thrift shop, customers aren’t buying because of mall glitz, fashion trends, or the desire to post a selfie of yourself in front of the Chanel store. Most of them are buying things they truly need: clothes for work or play, dishes and cookware, bedding, gifts for others. Or they’re indulging themselves with some jewelry or a collectible, at a price that won’t require a 2nd mortgage. When I ring up a sale at the shop, I feel that the customer is buying something they’ve they’re going to use and love – something they really want or need.

Meanwhile, if you really want and need a puppy, I refer you to the Irvine Animal Care Center, where they have lots of puppies (and kittens) who would love a new home in 2017. Otherwise, come by the ALI thrift shop for everything else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE JOYS OF BRICK-AND-MORTAR STORES

Did you ever notice how nostalgic people are for the days of the small neighborhood shop? The flower stall where the owner conveniently mis-delivers a bouquet of roses in order to introduce two lovelorn customers to each other? The clothing boutique with hand knit-sweaters and jewelry made by local artists? The “general store” where everyone in town wanders in to buy popsicles, pick up their mail, and hear the latest gossip?

You can tell I’ve been watching a lot of Hallmark TV. But what all these stores have in common is that they’re actual stores, where the customers can see and touch the merchandise, talk to the sales staff, and compare notes with other shoppers. There’s something emotionally satisfying about shopping in a real store – a connection to the shopping experience that you don’t get when you shop over the internet.

Pull yourself away from your computer and indulge your nostalgia at our brick-and-mortar thrift shop (we know it’s not brick-and-mortar, but “concrete slab thrift shop” doesn’t quite have the same cachet). You can try on the clothes, play with the stuffed animals, and tell immediately if the crystal candlesticks are going to match your dining room. You can share a friendly smile with one of our volunteers, or chat with another customer about the new restaurant down the street. And you’ll see so many interesting things in our shop that, just like those nostalgic TV shows, you’ll need a few sequels to take it all in.

WHAT WE’RE THANKFUL FOR

As Thanksgiving approaches, here’s the Assistance League of Irvine version of that holiday tradition where you go around the table and everyone names one thing they’re thankful for:

  • We’re thankful for the chance to live in Irvine, a safe and beautiful city in the best country in the world.
  • We’re thankful that we have the resources – time, health, and opportunity – to give back to our community.
  • We’re thankful for those who donate to our thrift shop. You care enough to make the trip over to our shop with the clothes and household items you no longer need, instead of tossing them in the dumpster.
  • We’re thankful for those of you who donate cash or personal services to us – these make a huge difference in our ability to fund our philanthropies.
  • We’re thankful for the teachers, school counselors, and school nurses who help direct families to our Operation School Bell and Scholarship programs.
  • We’re thankful for the help of Target North in the Irvine Marketplace, our partner store where our OSB clients shop for school clothing.
  • We’re thankful for the Irvine Unified School District art specialists and the student artists who make up our annual “Young Masters” exhibitors at City Hall each spring – so much talent in one city!
  • We’re thankful for our Assisteens, who are devoting time in middle school and high school to helping others, through a variety of activities.
  • And we’re thankful for all of you thrift shop customers (and blog readers!) – you’re our partners in this whole endeavor.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING from Assistance League of Irvine!

Behind the scenes – what really happens in Santa’s workshop!

The ALI thrift shop is stocked with holiday merchandise – lights, ornaments, Hanukkah-themed items, tabletop linens and decor, and much, much, MUCH more!

Now if this were a movie, little singing birds and mice wearing adorable clothing would have miraculously appeared in the dead of night to put these fantastic holiday treasures on the shelves.

In real life, there’s no fairy godmother with a magic wand to make this happen.  It’s all done by – you guessed it – your devoted ALI volunteers!

We collected 200 plastic storage bins of holiday merchandise during the year (thanks to all you devoted supporters of ALI who donated your holiday decorations to us!) And every donation that went into those bins was inspected, cleaned, priced, and wrapped for protection before it went into storage.  Our three “holiday merchandising managers” – Libby, Robin, and Sharyl – did this ALL YEAR LONG.  You know how you feel after you finally put the decorations away? Imagine doing that week after week!

It’s taking ALL of our volunteers, working behind the scenes, to unwrap everything in those 200 bins and put it out in the shop for you.  So every Tuesday in November, we’ll empty a few more bins and have MORE HOLIDAY ITEMS on the shelves for you.  Come by on our special November Tuesday shopping days to see what’s new!

And if you see an ALI volunteer with a name tag that reads Libby, Robin, or Sharyl – give her a big “Thank you” for filling all those bins!