Journalism, Ohio University

Buying thrift store shoes

The only generic photo I’ve kept since moving to Cinci. It’s some sort of game at a Greek festival I went to.

One of the first things I did when I moved to Cincinnati three weeks ago was go shopping.

I’ve never been one to be heavy on spending, so the first spot I sought out was an outlet mall. Minimal purchasing happened there.

Then I tracked down a Goodwill, just for kicks.


While at Goodwill, I saw a thrift shop down the street.

I thought to myself, “Self, isn’t that poor store location?”

When I walked into the thrift shop, I found some pretty cool shoes for $8.

So, I bought the shoes, thinking they were a good deal and looked nice. For $8 shoes, that is.

I also found a balling suit coat for $12 and a classy sweater that cost only $4, but that’s beside the point.

Saturday, the Davis clan and I went to another outlet mall (boy, there are a lot of outlet malls around here!), and I went to look at different things while they were in Bath & Body Works or something.

I decided on Bass, which is apparently a nice clothing story for upscale dudes.

For the sake of browsing, I went through the shoe isle.

$103, $96, $147, $122, $111…

“Why can’t prices ever be intervals of 10?” I asked myself.

I looked up from the last row of price tags and there they were: the shoes I bought three weeks prior at the thrift store. A new pair could be all mine for one low price of $109.

Dude, that’s, like, 109 packs of Trident Layers. 

The story of me deciding to attend OU and my experience during my first year is a lot like buying thrift store shoes*. I tell the story often because everyone I’ve met through my internship has asked me how the heck I ended up in Cincinnati, via Athens.

In short, OU sent me a promotional postcard, I visited and fell in love with the campus. Most of the attraction stemmed from having an appealing J-school, though.

(It’s like buying a used car you know is really safe and practical and in your price range, but secretly digging it because of its rocking stereo.*)

But then I set foot on campus and realized I could take only two journalism classes my freshman year. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Without even knowing it, I stumbled into something way better than my prior expectation.

The list starts with the work I did outside of class and ends with the nights I spent wandering campus without a purpose, and encompasses and everything in between. Mostly the things in between.

The moral of the story isn’t to always buy cheap shoes, because a lot of the time you get what you pay for.  You can’t cheat yourself or others consistently and expect to emerge better for it.

Buying those shoes wasn’t much of a risk. If they didn’t fit as I expected them to, or they had a really nasty smell to them upon second inspection, I was out only a couple packs of Layers.

As I’ve said a million times before, every decision I make right now is monumental because every little thing I do determines my next step in life, whether that’s apparent or not.

In some respects, I think it’s healthy to live by the “buying thrift store shoes” model every once in a while. Really, what do we have to lose?

When weighing little risks, all we really have to regret are Layers, which you care about until they lose their (bitter) flavor and you move on to the next thing*.



*These analogies make perfect sense inside my head. Whether or not they fit their intended purpose is beyond me. Think I’ve gone crazy? Drop me a comment or something. Ha!



2 thoughts on “Buying thrift store shoes

  1. First of all I am going to tell you I am related to Jelli. Hence how I read your story. We have a couple of thrift stores here in our town of La Porte, as I pass one everyday that I take my daughter to soccer practice and always wondered about it but never have gone into one. You have with this wonderful story convinced me to go visit this thrift store in my town. Why not, what do I have to lose.

    Posted by Rosie | June 28, 2012, 1:21 pm

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My name is Jim Ryan, and I'm a breaking news reporter for The Oregonian and OregonLive in Portland. I'm an Ohio University graduate from Gaylord, Michigan.

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