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The Lookout | December 13, 2018

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Trash to treasure at thrift store gala

Trash to treasure at thrift store gala

Sarah Spohn
A&E Editor

“You can’t dress trashy ‘til you spend a lot of money,” sang Billy Joel.

Clearly, he was just upset he didn’t get his invite to the second REO Town Thrift Store Gala.

The event, which celebrates the idea that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, takes place on Saturday, March 21 from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. in REO Town.

The event, held at Foliage Design Systems of Mid-Michigan, 1027 S. Washington Ave, focuses on a passion for fashion, but encourages reusing rather than spending big bucks on looking good.

Last year was the first time the REO Town Commercial Association held the event, a success, according to REO Town Commercial Association member Ryan Wert.

The idea, though, started off relatively small.

“The original thing was kind of prompted from being at a thrift store and seeing all the racks of fur coats and tuxedos and things like that, (which) people occasionally pick up but, for the most part, just sit there month after month,” Wert said.

“We were talking about how it would be fun to get a bunch of friends together and buy them and sort of be fancy for the night.”

The idea was a hit amongst friends, and soon the invites extended to the surrounding community.

This year’s event includes burlesque sets, a pin-up pageant, live music by James Gardin & Abbey Hoffman, comedians, magicians and entertainment in every corner, according to Wert.

“We have a guy who’s playing accordion as you enter, so we have entertainment at the coat check,” Wert said. “We just tried to fill every nook and cranny with something to do.”

Given the theme of the event, attendees can expect plenty of trash-turned-treasures to serve as décor at the thrift store gala.

“A couple of local thrift shops are setting up little temporary shops as well,” Wert said.

Vintage Junkies, REO Town’s Thriftique and Rock ’n’ Rummage will provide a thrift shopper’s paradise inside the event.

Treats will be for sale in the form of special menu items from Good Truckin’ Diner food truck, as well as brews from Sleepwalker.

According to Wert, there’s quite the crafty crew working hard to create decorations on the cheap.

“We’re slowly but surely picking over the thrift stores looking for weird random things,” Wert said. “Décor is essentially all thrift stores or salvaged from stuff. Our decorating budget is essentially non-existent.”

Along with the tiny décor budget comes an affordable ticket price.

“The proceeds benefit REO Town Commercial Association,” Wert said. “Making money at an event like this is minimal and kind of pointless.”

Rather than raking in the dough, the goal of the event is just to reinforce the neighborhood.

“We’re trying to help continue to re-establish the vibe of REO Town,” Wert said. “We have a character that’s been part of a neighborhood that’s grown pretty steadily over the last few years.”

So start scouring the Goodwill racks of classic furs, vintage prom dresses and old school tuxes. Tickets are $10 in advance at the REO Town Pub or, or $15 at the door.

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