It all started when I was a kid. I would walk to the convenience store, get a blue raspberry lollipop filled with gum, and head to the thrift store a couple shops down in the strip mall, where I would peruse stacks of used books and feed my Archie comic addiction with their huge selection. I poked around other parts of the shop—at furniture, wicker baskets, old wedding dresses—but I wasn’t interested in that stuff yet. As I grew older, moved around, and found new thrift stores, the sections I checked changed: black clothes to cut up and safety-pin back together when I had just started high school; boots, belts, and shoes; dresses to alter once I started sewing, cassette tapes for when I got my car, and vinyl to play when my roommates had record players. Over time, I learned that the key was to check every section and leave your trip open to the thrill of discovery.
Now imagine someone who has dedicated most of his or her life to learning these tricks of the trade, someone who can perfectly describe the thrill of the hunt, the ever-growing mental list of things you want to find, the triumphs and tribulations of searching for that perfect item amongst the discarded. Al Hoff is that person, and reading Thrift Score feels like sitting down and listening to a real thrift expert funneling years of that knowledge straight into your brain. In her introduction, Hoff mentions that the content of Thrift Score is as varied as what you might find in a thrift store, and this observation is apt. Chock full of facts, tips, and trivia, it’s hard to believe so much information can be crammed into one book.