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2007-12-18 issue:

The Bradleys: shopping at the thrift shop

by Anna Groff

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Beth Burns of Newton, Kan., and her three daughters (pictured with her husband, Everett Bradley), “regift” or thrift shop for Christmas presents to do their part to resist consumerism.

Photo provided.

Three years ago, they decided to forgo the mall and chose to do their Christmas shopping at the local Mennonite Central Committee Etcetera Shop.

They made a list of who they wanted to shop for and were surprised at how many items they found that “fit the people on their list.”

“It was so much fun, we keep doing it,” says Beth. “It’s exciting when you go to Etcetera and you find the perfect thing for the person on your list. [The gifts] are more meaningful because there is more thought put into it.”

Beth says this kind of gift giving feels more personal than shopping at the mall, where “you don’t think through who would like what as much.”

If they can’t find them at Etcetera, they try to make the gifts, such as baskets and jewelry.
The first year, they told their extended family that they shopped at Etcetera and encouraged them to join but weren’t terribly successful, says Beth.

Her daughters, ages 8, 13 and 15, are the only grandchildren in their extended family, so their aunts, uncles and grandparents like to give them gifts.

“I don’t want to take away someone else’s joy in giving,” Beth says, so they graciously accept those gifts.

Christmas is a time to gather with family, and giving and receiving gifts goes along with that, she says. “Our society of consumerism has really become the norm.”

However, the shopping at Etcetera is “doing their part to regift,” she says. She and Everett want to help their children “grow up to be well-balanced and not just consumers all the time.”—Anna Groff

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