Contemporary Thrifting with Amy

Rediscovering Knickknacks

Contemporary ThriftingWith college degrees under my belt, I came back to Bremerton in the early ’70s and got a job managing a parking lot and a rummage sale building in downtown Bremerton. And thus began my “doctorate in thrifting,” so it seemed.

My area of study was art, design and marketing, and that tied right in with selling and buying second-hand merchandise. I saw trends in those early days when gold and avocado-green ruled and tuna casseroles were king of the yellow-swirl Formica table.

In the 50-year span, household trend directions have naturally changed, especially kitchen and display items. You’ve heard me talk about what goes around comes around and Grandma’s dishes coming back, but I never expected knickknacks to make a comeback.

I was thrown, even shocked. My recent thrift trend survey indicates that folks are buying knickknacks, especially owls and mushrooms. So, covering some six thrift stores, I went looking for a knickknack, a small item that doesn’t have a utilitarian function. Not useful like a bowl or frying pan, but small and cute to look at.

If you want to have fun sometime, go to Goodwill’s knickknack aisle, pick up a 3-inch porcelain ballet dancer or a tiny carved wood squirrel and show it to the person next to you. It’s like a party.

I looked around in my own house, finding nothing, until tucked away on a shelf was this white, ceramic kitten. Being a thrifting expert, I had to ask myself why I personally had no or few knickknacks.

Several store workers said people are buying more single, cute display items rather than sculptures and big art pieces. Maybe it’s the memorabilia aspect or the comfort of something that can be held in one’s hand.

There is no stopping me now. I see a new thrifting direction on the horizon, owls. Lots of owls. Or maybe more kittens. Yes, kittens.