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Megan Zupancic was on a mission.
She'd have to be — driving around Fresno at 4 p.m. with the temperature in triple digits, in a 1979 Volkswagon Rabbit with no air, trying to hit up every thrift store in town.
She did this for all of June and July, Google searching and tearing up the Yellow Pages, contacting social service agencies, chasing down rumors. And when she was done she had the basis for “Fresno-Thrift Store Mecca,” a handmade 'zine for sale for $5 through her Etsy site (therecyclingethic.etsy.com).
The 'zine is part review, part narrative, with stories and information on 28 different shops around Fresno/Clovis. It tells you where to go and what to do when you get there, with “a couple extra pages to make notes on.”
It's not a definitive list, Zupancic says, but it's close. She left out the smallest places and those that just opened and were too new to have their own identity. And some places she just couldn't find.
“There are rumors of other stores that I haven't gotten to,” says Zupancic, who moved to Fresno to study at the MB Biblical Seminary.
Here's the thing thrifters already know about Fresno: It has a wealth of good, quality thrift stores. People travel here just to visit the thrift stores on Van Ness Avenue.
But that's not the only destination stop, Zupancic says.
Thrifts stores come in clusters. There is more than one Goodwill situated across from a Salvation Army. The AM-Vets Thrift Store on Shields Avenue is right next to Hinds Hospice's thrift store and across the street from a place called Harry's Attic.
There's also a good Phu place there, she says.
So the 'zine is also a travel guide, and a bit of cheerleading rah-rah.
People often see Fresno as the “not” of California — as in, “not” San Francisco or “not” Los Angeles. Here is something we do well, she says. And that means something.
Because thrift stores are an extension of something larger, a way of living that is a rebellion against a culture that says “buy now, buy new.” In fact, the idea of the 'zine was inspired by an ethics class that focused on living more with less.
“I'm really drawn to things that have been thrown away.”
Thrifting hint: Unless you just have fun looking through other people's junk, make a plan and give yourself a time limit, Zupancic says. In other words, know what you are looking for, whether it's school clothes for your 10-year old or kitchen appliances.
Worth the trip: Thrift Center on Shields Avenue is constantly having sales, Zupancic says. So many, she has trouble keeping them straight. “They're always having 50% sales. But they always have new stuff.”
Excerpt: “This place makes me feel like it's Christmas, or at least the '50s-era cultural conception of Christmas, fun and surprises around each turn. A woman tries to convince me to buy brown suede ankle boots with fringe, because they don't fit her, and I carry them around the store for 10 minutes until I don't see her anymore; I think she said ‘they're suede, girl' like five times, and I was so honored that a black woman called me ‘girl,' that I wanted her to like me.”