Last week I walked in a local thrift store. I love those places! For me they are a welcome change to all those chain stores that all selling the newest ‘standard’ items. Soulless stuff everybody thinks they need. Until the next new thing comes along. The thrift store showed me the true value of things. It showed me the world before everything became bits and bytes. Keep reading.
When I browse around in a thrift store I feel like some kind of treasure hunter. Ready to spot a treasure on every shelf. Those stores are a feast for the eyes and have a surprise in every corner. All items have character, have a soul. They have all been used and someone has enjoyed them. They tell a story. Okay…there is also a lot of useless crap but – for the trained eye – there are a lot of great things to discover in a thrift shop.
Antique Royal typewriter
For example: I got excited when I spotted a beautiful antique Royal typewriter. A large, black mechanical masterpiece. Somehow it even looked royal! When I touched the keys they felt really solid. I can imagine writing something really meaningful on a machine like this. Quite a difference from the machines I usually write on. A laptop or tablet where I press a button and a letter appears on the screen. Somehow the typing and the appearance of the letter seem disconnected…artificial. On an antique typewriter you are the one that is creating. And you think before you type. Because typing errors are very hard to correct!
Then I saw another beauty: a Telefunken Concertino (love that name!) radio from the late sixties, early seventies with two original speakers. I turned some knobs and pressed the buttons. I can imagine listening to the radio on this stunning piece of equipment. I am convinced that everything is worth listening to on a Telefunken Concertino. Quite a difference from the things we listen to nowadays. Now we just zap from one piece of music to the other. Not giving it too much thought.
Then I arrived at the book department where I saw thousands of used books. There was also a large area filled with used CDs and DVDs. All things of the past. Everything I saw there probably fitted on a couple of large memorycards.
I really miss that
I also spotted some huge photocameras and camcorders. Obsolete devices that have been surpassed by our small smartphones. But still they look great. And I vividly remember using them. The thrill when my father let me use the camcorder to film stuff on vacation. I really did my best to get the ultimate shot. And the absolute joy of watching all the footage back home. Who does that these days? I really miss that.
Slowly turning into software
It seems that everything around us is slowly turning into software. Typewriters have become wordprocessing apps. Radios have become music apps. Books, CDs and DVDs have become bits and bytes and cameras have become smartphones.
I can’t imagine walking in a thrift store in twenty years and looking at memorycards
And when things become software, the ‘body’ seems to disappear. Software, bits and bytes are virtually invisible and can be downloaded in seconds. And can be deleted in split seconds. Somehow that makes it feel ‘less important’. I can’t imagine walking in a thrift store in twenty years and looking at memorycards.
I guess that is the real reason I like thrift stores: they show me the world before everything became bits and bytes. They show me the true value and significance of things that have now become fleeting and invisible.
Do yourself a favor and visit your local thrift store. Touch and appreciate all those beautiful things that have not turned into software yet. And when you spot a Royal typewriter or a Telefunken Concertino, let me know!