What do Barb Tobias (The “Thrift Talk” Diva), Tori Spelling and Carol Burnett have in common?
I was stunned to learn, after reading numerous reports on People.com, Omg.com, and Thefrisky.com, that real celebrities were raising serious money through holding all types of sales; garage sales, tag sales, yard sales, porch sales, divorce sales, downsizing sales, moving sales…and are now moving into the corridors of high-rise apartment buildings where city dwellers are holding “lobby sales”. And, here I thought that this Thrift Talking Diva had the corner on making good money at my fancy Diva Sales.
Yikes! Little did I know that I was going up against the likes of Tori Spelling, Scott Baio, Teri Hatcher, and Pamela Anderson. I’d been snookered and outclassed. And, I would have to imagine that my stuff was probably pretty paltry in comparison to their stuff.
Sure, I’ve yakked for years about the benefits of holding tag sales and purging homes of unwanted and unloved things. And, I’m still a strong advocate for the yearly cleanse (because it’s the only cleanse that’s capable of making a fast buck). But, I was still having trouble wrapping my arms around celebrities hawking their junk … like the rest of us.
I kept asking myself, “Why would outrageously wealthy superstars hold yard sales?” So, I started doing a little celebrity snooping, and, voila, Diva Detective was born. True, most stars hold sales through auction houses, but a few, such as Tori Spelling, Scott Baio, Teri Hatcher, and Pamela Anderson actually worked their own sales, albeit with professional and agent assistance. Many of them do it for charity; however, Tori actually pocketed the cash.
Star Willie Aames sold off his belongings at his suburban Kansas City home. Apparently dozens showed up while Aames bargained with treasure-hunters and even signed autographs. Hundreds of people stood in line to snap up movie memorabilia, taxidermy, antiques, artwork, furniture, and even his piano. And, the shocker…his production crews were even there to film a television documentary.
A cable network recently shot a pilot for the project, titled “Celebrity Garage Sale,” staring actress Illeana Douglas. Apparently the hook is that Douglas is on a mission to help her famous friends get rid of their unwanted junk by holding, you guessed it, a garage sale. They’ve brought in Tom Arnold to mix it up because his garage sale is said to have raised $5,000 for Camp del Corazon, a summer camp for children with heart disease.
Scott Baio’s sale raised funds as well as awareness for mandatory newborn screening in all fifty states after his daughter tested positive for GA1, a metabolic disorder. Fortunately, she is fine, after it was discovered that her results were a false positive.
Teri Hatcher raised $20,000 for her favorite charities through an invite-only, fifty-dollar entrance fee, yard sale and served Buttercream Cupcakes & Coffee to her customers!
And, Pamela Anderson was reported have sold one of her homes with all of the contents with the proceeds going to PETA.
Now here’s one that shook the fibers of my “divaness”. Supermodel Erin Wasson held a garage sale selling off pieces from her personal wardrobe … the likes of Balenciaga and YSL. Now, rumor has it that these rags sold for under $100. Where was I when all this was happening? According to Erin she was attempting to “edit down my wardrobe and be very Japanese, where you have one rolling rack…I love the idea of being super edited.” Awww…
So what’s the difference between their yard sales and mine? So okay, the autograph signings are probably a draw. I’ll give them that. And, maybe their furnishings are a tad more elegant. And then there are the gowns, and posters and the jewels. Hmmm…
Q. Why do you refer to yourself as a Diva?
A. I struggled to come up with a title for myself . . . a name that would reflect my journey to the top of the proverbial pile so to speak. When considering strong, self-actualizing words for women, the English language provides few choices.
Was I going to call myself a Princess? Well, we’ve all pounded that word into the ground. And, I really didn’t want to defend my title against all the little, fluffy, cutesy dogs named Princess.
Perhaps calling myself a master of my trade would work. Naw, that term was obviously reserved for men.
Okay, so how about mistress of my trade? Well, that one is sure to make the tabloids, and not an image I wanted to portray. Plus, the word no longer carries (if it ever did) the element of accomplishment that typified someone who has walked the bumpy road to success.
A Queen? Now, there is a moniker that negates the thought of achievement brought about by hard, creative work. The term typically refers to a birthright not accomplishment.
Alas, there remained . . . the Diva. Strong, accomplished, talented. That could work. Of course, I knew that there would be those that would scoff at such a self-proclaiming title, but I would ask. What word has this culture cultivated to capture the strength, the magic, of talented, smart, resilient women?
Thus, another Diva was born . . . The Thrift Diva
Q. What exactly is Thrift?
A. Thrift or thrifting, as it is often called, is the act of purchasing secondhand items at a fraction of their original cost.
Check out my FAB 99 cent 60′s swing coat . . .
Q. Don’t most people regard the act of thrifting as a rather seedy, back-alley type of activity?
A. They used to, but times are changing. With the downturn of the economy thrift has stepped out of the closet . . . so to speak. Many people furnish their entire homes in fabulous but frugal secondhand finds. I have. I just talked to a fellow thriftier that furnished her 3,800 square foot home with used bargains . . . for $8,000 . . . and it looks fabulous.
Others build their wardrobes from posh designer fashions they rescue from thrift stores, garage sales and auctions.
Q. I find the phrase Thrift Diva to be somewhat of an oxymoron. Isn’t thrift the polar opposite of being a Diva?
A. That is actually one of the reasons I began calling myself The Thrift Talk Diva. My mission is to take thrift out of the gutter. To show people how to decorate or dress using recycled products. Think of it. No packaging, no shipping costs, no advertising. Not only is thrift socially responsible, but we can all live in wonderfully appointed environments at little to no cost.
And . . . The Thrift Diva can show them how to do it.
Q. Why are you the expert on thrift?
A. I have been shopping America’s thrifty by-ways and high-ways for 30 years, I have outfitted my home and myself in fashionable thrift bargains, and I have taught countless Divettes how to create fabulous interiors for little to no cost.
Q. Am I right to assume that thrift shopping is becoming more in vogue with the downturn of the economy?
A. Although the art of thrifting has been around for years, it is definitely in vogue . . . it is the new black.
Q. Why does it matter?
A. There are several factors that make this frugal trend a hot topic:
- The economy is in the dumper but people do not want to give up their lifestyles . . . and they don’t need to. What they need to discover is a cheaper means to accomplish their goals, whether it is outfitting their families or decorating their homes.
- Women are hard-wired to nest, to create richly appointed, comfortable homes. Fashioning a home is the primer creative outlet for most women. It started when hides, caves and timbers were crudely fashioned into habitats. These abodes were adorned with drawings, beads, animal relics and other adornments.
- It is fun. The thrill of the hunt is as alluring in the halls of thrift as it is in the fields of prey.
Q. Do you consider the Art of Thrifting to be a business or hobby?
A. My fascination with garage sales, flea markets, antique and consignments shops started out as a hobby. I was a single mom on a tight budget and was thrilled at the thought of decorating my home at little to no cost. It wasn’t until years later and the change in perception that I actually turned my passion into a coaching and speaking business with the launch of my book Tossed and Found.
Q. Was thrift hunting an accepted activity 30 year ago?
A. Absolutely not. As a matter of fact I write about going to garage sales, incognito. I used to carry a pair of sunglasses and a scrunchy hat in my car to use whenever I stopped at a yard sale or thrift shop. At the time I was a fashion model and I was doing a lot of radio and television appearances. Back then my Divaness had not yet fully blossomed and I would have sooner died than been spotted with my head in a dumpster or in the back of some grubby barn searching for my holy grail.
Q. What is the best find you ever found?
A. I will share my most cherished possession because I feel that worth is not measured by the actual price that is paid, but the value that it holds for the huntress.
In the infancy of my thrifting addiction, I stopped by a fairly seedy sale hesitating as to whether to even go in. I did a quick scope of the interior of the garage and made the decision to leave when I spotted a dust covered picture propped behind some old boxes. Its back was facing me and I could only see the old and tattered frame. Turning it around and wiping the dust off the glass I was enchanted by the yellowed but fetching picture.
A turn of the century Diva peered out through her mask at a costume ball. I knew that I had to have her. Hesitantly I asked the proprietress of this fine establishment how much she wanted. Her tired reply asked for a mere $5.00. I knew that day, as I walked my treasure to the car, that I was hooked. I am a thrift-a-holic.
Q. When and why did you begin writing?
A. I have actually written for years, but I never brought any of my projects to fruition. It wasn’t until I lost my corporate position several years ago that I had the unfettered opportunity to follow my dreams. One day in had a serious talk with myself and threw the question out to the universe, “What course should I follow now?” The answer came back like a bolt of lightning…”Write a book about your passion.” Hence, the birth of Tossed and Found.
Q. Is there a bigger message beneath the clutter (so to speak) of Tossed and Found?
A. Definitely. I want to reach women and deliver this message: No matter how humble your dreams, no matter what your circumstances, you can reach that goal. You are powerful…own it. You are creative…embrace it. You are a Diva.
Q. Are experiences based on the events in your own life?
A. Absolutely. I talk about the experiences I have had on the road, on television and radio, on the runway and in business. I relate some of the amazing adventures I have had like having a gun pulled on us during a garage sale, finding true treasures for pennies, and decorating my home in thrift . . . at no cost.
Q. Can you share a little of your current work with us?
A. Yes. I am writing my second book entitled Tossed and Turned. Whereas Tossed and Found is about finding and buying secondhand treasures, Tossed and Turned is about decorating with frugal finds. It shows, step by step how to turn a ‘noplace’ into a ‘showplace’ at little to no cost.
The emerging Diva
Below is an email that I received from a very excited client. We are working to transform her somewhat worn home into a chic and stylish habitat.
Just last garage sale season, Jo learned how to shop using a newly frugal but creative eye. She quickly learned to spot the potential treasures beneath the tarnish.
After holding a garage sale of her own, we spent a few fun and productive weekends looking for bargain furnishings to replace the items we literally hauled out of her house and sold on the spot. Remember the old addage; One woman’s junk is another woman’s treasure? (Okay, so it is close enough.)
Jo was very hesitant at the beginning of our project. She was skeptical of finding quality items at local thrift venues. Now, she is an ardent believer and often ventures out on her own to find her bargains. She has learned that imagination and resourcefulness are key factors in finding the right deals.
I just made the best buy of the day… a– FREE, courtesy of Aurora Library. I was actually looking at all their $1 books because the library is closing for good.
I found a free bookcase and had just taken it to my car when I walked back in to find that they had just pull a love seat from the back room and pushed it onto the sale floor.
I was the first to look at it, then another lady started pushing it around and inspecting it. Since I had already made my decision to buy it, the sales person let me have it. Can you believe that?
I felt like I just gave myself a big ole’present. I can’t even tell you how great my family room feels to me – it’s beginning to feel more like home every time I add something.
Oh, and I picked up a fabulous lamp Goodwill for $24 with my Senior Citizen’s discount! Ha, ha! My family room is so cozy and the lighting is great now. I love it.
I can’t believe that I’m so looking forward to next garage sale season! I would have never thought I would be such an ardent convert! This is fun and it is not costing me any more money because I am using the funds that I made when we held my garage sale.
Thank you so much . . . and, Happy New Year!
To your success,
Denver Entrepreneurs LinkedIn Group
The Warrior Spirit within…
Why I Call Myself A Diva
When I was growing up in the fifties and sixties, I was caught in the middle of two ambiguous eras where strong female role models were just becoming the norm. However the movement toward a more independent, self-actualized woman was beginning to percolate beneath the surface. This trend, interestingly, was reflected in the fashions of the day and nudged along by the ever-progressive motion picture industry. Here, among the drawing boards and fabric bolts of Hollywood design studios, life began to imitate art when Marlene Dietrich created a furor wearing pants in the 1930s film Morocco. Garbo soon followed suit, and the rest was another cornerstone in female history.
But the Diva who really touched my soul was Katharine Hepburn. Throughout her film career Kate maintained her fierce independence, took full ownership of her controversial label, was quick to challenge convention, and loathed labels and inequity.
When asked, in an NBC interview, why she wore pants the outspoken actor proclaimed, I just had good timing. The times fit me. Pants came in, low heels came in, and the terrible woman came in…who spoke her mind.
Kate extolled with feisty abandon her beliefs in education, in human sexuality and birth control and applauded women’s rights. Katherine Hepburn was a Diva. A warrior. A woman who savored the moment and danced to her own rhythm.
Although growing up in the shadows was the norm for my generation, strong, vibrant and daring women were emerging. Jacqueline Kennedy epitomized the strength of the sixties woman and was indeed a soldier in both fashion and fact. Gloria Steinem, despised and revered, was and is an unquestionable testament to the pursuit of the feminine.
These women were a few of the many role models that nudged me away from the security of a predictable life and comforts of a mundane existence.
During those exciting yet turbulent years, women burned their bras as a symbol of a female society unwilling to be harnessed to an outdated plow. The movie industry, quick to imitate life, awakened that restless seed within me as I passed from the spring of my youth into the summer of my adolescence.
I was mesmerized by movies that influenced the wide-eyed teen that I continued to be. But it wasn’t until the eighties that I began to see the seeds of the strong, warrior female emerge.
Movies like Beaches and Steel Magnolias are still apologetically referred to today as “chick flicks”, ignoring or diminishing the power of their titles or the mettle of their characters. To me, these films captured the Diva character, embracing and intertwining the beguiling spirit of the feminine with the resolve of the warrior.
We need to recognize and honor the fact that heroes are not singularly made on battlefields or boardrooms, heroes appear in the bedrooms of the sick and within the written words of children’s storybooks. Heroes are the women who went to the factories when the men went to war. The silent combatants were the women who were the gatekeepers of the underground railroads.
Yesterday women sheltered the persecuted, today they shelter the abused. Heroes are the women who entered the male bastions and broke the glass ceilings.
Some women find their paths early and lead rich, full lives. Others discover their missions latter and revel in their new-found bliss. And some fallen warriors never open themselves up to life’s possibilities.
In reflecting on our unique and individual journeys, I am reminded of Viking runes; the smooth and ancient hieroglyphics said to foretell ones cosmic direction. There is one stone in the bag of 27 fortuitous messages that is blank. Although that rune is disappointing when first received, it is the most powerful and promising of all the runes. It is said to be the pregnant rune . . . the harbinger of all possibilities. In choosing this rune the Diva Warrior learns to honor the power of the unknown, and develops the courage and faith necessary to step into the void.
I have sought inspiration in varying level at various times and have found that there is a rich tapestry of the inspired and those that inspire. They come in many different forms; a song we hear in the background, a headline or even a book title. Maybe the Universe is trying to give us a nudge or some divine spirit is vying for our attention. Regardless of the venue or purpose of these seeming innocuous whisperings, we know at a core level that we have connected with resonances of a higher power.
The following sites not only inspire but allow women to connect with other women from all walks of life. Businesses can be promoted, information shared, and a blog or forum started. Here are some of my personal favs.
- Brave Heart Women – For women who chose to be Inspiration in Action
- Women, health, family, love, beauty and entertainment
- Read a blog or start your own blogs on women’s issues
- Celebrating women…50 and better
- A Women’s community of strength support and creativity
- Empowerment, Inspiration, Connection, Success!
I’ve often wondered what our world would be like if we were all blind. Today advertising has us believing that all women should be skinny, young and dressed to the nines. And, men should be savvy business execs attired in beautifully tailored suits, wearing rather than carrying a six-pack and flaunting cashmere sweaters and ripped jeans? (Boy, where was I with the brain juice and my budding entrepreneurial spirit during the ripped jean fad?)
If we were all blind, fashion as we know it would die. Women in Iraq wouldn’t have to cover themselves. Clothes would have to be strictly clean and functional to keep us warm, or cool. Length of hemlines would be immaterial and jewelry would be a thing of the past.
Imagine this; Miss America could be a smart, talented dog-faced winner…and, maybe we would even have a Mr. America that could be judged on his ability to answer politically skewed questions. Building bodies to competitive, muscle bound status would be efforts in futility, but the ability to build a house would reign supreme.
Couples would begin to judge each other on what kind of a person they were; whether they were touchy, intimate, aloof, funny, insightful, or interesting. Hmmm, imagine that…novel idea.
Products would be judged solely on their benefits and functionality rather than style or color. Consider for a moment what possible benefits stiletto heels, buttons and clips in the back of blouses and necklaces, thong underwear and tops that snap under the crotch offer their wearers.
If we were all blind I would bet that we would start to see a more humane society emerge; one that rests on the merits of each human being rather than the visual aspects of what makes people and specifically women worthy.
Set in a backwater southern town a diverse group of women, all dreaming different dreams were tested time and again. Their inner strengths and support of one another made the tough times tolerable and the good times memorable. Their rocky lives were sustained by friendship, inner strength and the love and support they gave to on another. Age barriers, despite age, carved out lives that were memorable, the value of friendship and intolerant of wrong. These women weren’t notorious or in the limelight, but they were warriors living their lives in a and…