Retail Intervention: Chris Castillo


Chris Castillo
Chris Castillo

Name: Chris Castillo

Photographer, nonprofit arts industry receptionist, volunteer archivist, new media artist –

Thoughts on thrifting:
  I’ve been thrifting for almost half of my entire life. I started frequenting thrift stores with my best friend back in high school. I was very interested in the idea of thrift stores’ access to instantaneous history & the commerce of memories. Everything can be so one-of-a-kind. (Well… almost. You can walk into any thrift store & find a Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass record- it’s a thrift store code compliance requirement!)

Tip #1: Never go into a grocery store hungry; Never go into a thrift store hoardy. Make a shopping list. Looking for slacks? Pencil skirt? A French Arcoroc drinking glass? Even a mental list will keep you focused & on track. Of course, when you seek, you shall find that unexpected treasure, but do not become buried in treasures.
Tip #2: Know your sales & sale days. Wednesday mornings can mean two things in my world. $0.25-any-item at Family Thrift Outlet Center, & half price all clothing at Salvation Army on West Ave. When you walk into any store, find the manager’s board (right) that lists that day’s color tag discounts. This might make or break the decision to buy that colorful walkman or point & shoot camera, because you’ll know whether or not all electronics are 50%.
Tip #3: Become familiar with what your stores usually carry. You wouldn’t walk into Walgreens to buy a home theater system. With increased frequency, you will learn that if you need an assortment of vintage greeting cards, your first stop should be the Assistance League Thrift House. If you need furniture, hit up Salvation Army at S. Alamo and S. Flores. This, like any rule, is meant to be broken. You might find a cache of vintage crepe paper- perfect for making crepe paper flower centerpieces- in the midst of a barren, thrift store wasteland! Having a general idea of what stores excel in stocking can save you time & frustration.
How do you thrift like a photographer? I will always keep my eyes peeled for items that can be used in my darkroom, like Pyrex measuring cylinders. I have a soft spot in my heart for fixed-focus, point & shoot cameras. In my last thrift store haul I picked up two point & shoot Vivitars & a nice Yashica camera (see below) like my mentor Joan Frederick used back in the day almost religously. Thrifted props, home decor items, & art can always find their way into photographs.
Point & shoot Vivitars and a Yashica camera
Point & shoot Vivitars and a Yashica camera

spare parts Founder Mary E. Cantu & Castillo
spare parts Founder Mary E. Cantu & Castillo on a thrift store excursion.

Finally, remember  thrifting is part of creative reuse! Cheers!

Additional links & resources:
Rookie magazine’s Thrifting: The Master Class
Danny Seo’s blog on eco-friendly living & crafty ideas
RETAIL INTERVENTION logo designed by Chris Castillo. Photos by Chris Castillo.