PROVINCETOWN — Finding buried treasure, the pearl in the oyster, or spinning gold out of straw — this is what gets me out of bed in the morning.
The Methodist Church Thrift Shop sets the stage for a myriad of experiences. It is one Provincetown institution that will always deliver a good time. Anyone can join this slightly competitive treasure hunt. With plenty of free parking, things start out on an easy note. Large doors open to delicious aromas (from the Soup Kitchen, serving lunch every weekday). Take a left and find furniture and large items. A great chance to furnish your home without getting into financial trouble.
With the Soup Kitchen dining room on your right, follow the happy voices to a series of rooms that contain smaller items and clothing. You’ll always be greeted warmly by the colorful volunteer salespeople here. And no, there’s no strong religious overtone, but there is something “godly” about this shop. Where else can you find designer clothing at a fraction of the original price?
I always tour the merchandise three times, so I don’t miss anything. They have a constantly changing selection.
There is no shame in shopping here. This is your chance to create a truly unique wardrobe. And besides, people have been repurposing worn-out clothing for as long as clothes have existed. Years ago, nothing went to waste. If you had a dress and it got worn out, you made a pinafore for your daughter. And when that got trashed, you’d tear it up and stuff a chair with it.
That all changed in the late 19th century, when the industrial revolution brought us mass production. As clothes became cheaper, people began to think of them as disposable. A Methodist minister in 1902 launched Goodwill, which provided many immigrants with an instantly “American look.”
By the 1920s thrift stores were as organized as department stores. The terminology changed, too. Once called “junk shops,” the word “thrift” reflected a marketing angle that allowed middle-class housewives to feel virtuous about buying new, because it gave them a way to give something back.
The virtue in this is not lost on us today. The environmental movement promotes thrift shops as a form of recycling.
But for me, the bottom line is the pleasure principle. And I’m not alone. From Rachel Maddow to Freddie Buba, this place gets ’em all. Just some of the items you can find here: objets d’art, autographs, wigs, pet toys. With fresh new finds hitting the sales floor all day long, it’s always a good time to go.
The Methodist Church Thrift Shop, at 20 Shank Painter Road, is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.