Confessions of a Frenchy’s addict

If you’re not from the Maritimes, or if you’re not a second-hand kind of person, you may not know Frenchy’s, the used clothing store that has become an institution and a verb (Frenchying).

The Coldbrook store. Surely my car must be there somewhere.

I know the store quite intimately, having been a fan since I was a little girl.

You might say I’m even addicted to Frenchy’s.

Guy’s Frenchy’s is a chain of second-hand clothing stores (“outlets” they prefer) where you sift through bins for treasures.  What those treasures might be, only you know.  Maybe it’s a pair of brand name jeans.  Or a unique print dress that screams you (or whispers you if you’re a wallflower.)

Some people claim to find nothing at Frenchy’s.  They’re just not looking hard enough.

To be an effective Frenchy’s shopper, you need to go frequently.  True enough, there will be some days you don’t find a single thing.  For me, those are the days when there’s nothing but Barbie-size clothes.  Other times, I can fill a huge orange basket to the brim (and empty my wallet.)

My hometown Frenchy's in Bridgewater.

Frenchy’s shopping trumps non-Frenchy’s shopping because of the fun of diving into bins, sifting through clothes, grabbing at textures you love only to find the clothing in question is a size minus four.  That’s okay.  That’s part of the hunt.  There’s more bins.  There’s other days.

As a Frenchy’s veteran, I’ve discovered a few tips to scoring great finds.

  • Remember to go frequently.  Check out your favourite bins on a regular basis.
  • Have a sense of your own style.  Know what you like.  That way when you see a colour, fabric, or pattern that appeals to you, you can pluck it from the bin immediately.  This will save time.  Once you know what to look for, you’ll be more efficient.

    The Wilmot location, close to Middleton.
  • If there aren’t too many people at the bin, push over the mountain of clothing and sort through it piece by piece.  Your inner monologue will sound like: No.  No.  Maybe.  No.  Heck no.  Oooh!  Score!
  • Be assertive.  Some people will try to crowd close to you and sort through stuff just under your nose.  Adopt the stance of a lion and continue looking without quivering in panic.  Once they see you’re fearless, they’ll back off and leave you with your kill.
  • Check out the bins close to the dressing rooms.  Sometimes people who have just tried on clothes have dumped them there.  This is an untapped resource.
  • Look for sweaters in summer and shorts in winter.  This way you’re ahead of the crowd.  If you tend to gain or lose weight frequently, this option may not be best for you.
  • Don’t leave just before the hour.  That’s when fresh Frenchy’s booty is coming out of the sorting area.  Wait for it.
  • Cool your heels until new Frenchy’s treasures are placed in the bin.  Do not accost the workers as they come from the sorting area.  They do not like this.  Don’t take things from the cart before they’re placed in the bin.  They do not care for this either.  I know.  I’ve tried it.
  • Take a friend who’s a different size than you.  Two pairs of eyes will double your haul to the dressing room.  You can look for each other.  However, friends of the same size are competition.  Leave them home.
  • Check for flaws.  The easiest way to look for rips and holes is in the dressing room.  You don’t want to get home and find a hole the size of Kentucky in that new sweater.  All sales are final, so make sure you know what you’re buying.
  • If you’re wearing your best clothes, be forewarned of the grey dust bunnies that are inevitable.  Brush yourself off before going back to work or heading home.
  • The cashier’s word is final.  If he or she charges you for pants and you think you should be charged for shorts, shut your mouth.  It’s still cheap.  And there’s a line up behind you.
  • Understand that some people will not understand why you have to keep visiting Frenchy’s and bringing home treasures.  They will say things like “Don’t you have enough clothes?” or “How much did you spend this time?”  These are toxic Frenchy’s friends.  Don’t listen to them.  They’re just jealous.
  • Most of all, enjoy your time at Frenchy’s.  It’s fun.

Of course, while I have focused on the Frenchy’s brand of stores, there are plenty of other outlets around.

In the Bridgewater area there’s the Dawson Daisy.  I love the Daisy.  It raises money for the hospital by selling donated clothes and housewares.  I bought books for one dollar the other day.  One dollar!  Any second-hand book store would’ve sold them for a lot more.  You can’t beat the prices.

This one store is a bit hard to find.  It’s at one corner of the South Shore Regional Hospital property, close to the helipad.

Look at those bins! I'm practically salivating.

Be sure to stop by the Salvation Army.  They also have lots of books and whatnot.  FYI, they survive off donations.  Be sure to drop off a bag or two of your unwanted items.  The Daisy, Salvation Army, and Red Cross love your donated clothes.

And finally, one of my other favourite second-hand haunts is Value Village.  It’s like a slightly more pricey Frenchy’s.  However, there’s lots of selection if you frequent the stores in big centres like Dartmouth and Halifax.  Not only do they have clothes, they have dishes, books, furniture, sports gear, shoes… oooooh I just love it!  You can even find rare antiques in the special case by the cash registers.

Second-hand shopping is one of my favourite pursuits.  There’s just something about finding treasures.

I think it brings out the pirate in me.

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