I’ve talked about my Frenchy’s obsession on the ZBQ IG a few times, but this is probably the first time I’ve blogged about it. Frenchy’s is a chain of thrift stores found around the Maritime provinces, and in particular abundance in my home province of Nova Scotia. Here are a few recent scores from some local Frenchy’s stores near where I live.

Been getting some great tie dye lately.

I’ve been buying clothes from thrift stores for most of my adult life. My first thrift store was in fact a Frenchy’s store in Digby NS, back in the woebegone teenage days of 1983 or so. I bought a brown army shirt then took it home to chop the sleeves off of it and add a Clash “Know Your Rights” logo in permanent marker to the back.

These days it’s pretty common to encounter a lot of anime-themed shirts while hunting. I try to limit those purchases to shows I have seen and hopefully at least marginally enjoyed. I couldn’t resist this Evangelion shirt, even though I found the show a bit strange.

In recent years I’ve tended to spend more time focused specifically on the t-shirt sections of these stores. As a screen printer for over 20 years, I am a fan of the craft and like to see some of the random work out there. A few years ago I started taking some of these t-shirts home.

This one is definitely headed for Mashtown.

So a few years ago I left from the city I’d lived in for the previous 23 years, Halifax Nova Scotia, to a community in the same province about 3 hours down the road known as Yarmouth. More specifically, a smaller place on the outskirts of Yarmouth called Lower Wedgeport. Thanks to the miracle of the modern information superhighway, I met my lovely partner in 2020 and soon a long distance fling became a permanent thing when I moved down here to join her. As a person who had already long since had my fill of the city life (having also done time in Montreal and Vancouver), I was more than ready for the slower and saner pace an area like this offers. But if I’m being completely honest, country life can occasionally be a bit on the dull side. Often one of the only exciting things to do on a day off is to hit a few thrift stores and hope to hit pay dirt.

This is normally the type of shirt I wouldn’t bother buying (not a horror movie fan, in fact haven’t seen even one of the Friday the 13th flicks). But it’s a beautiful print, and has enormous mash-up potential. How about a serial killing luchador?

When I left Halifax I also made the difficult decision to close up my print shop indefinitely, and due to some financial strains ended up selling my shirt press in 2021. However, I wasn’t left without resources as I still had my trusty heat press and most of my screens. I decided to take the opportunity to start exploring the world of screen printed shirt transfers, something I’d dabbled in for years but had to yet to take a proper deep dive into. Finding myself in a completely new environment with a ton of time on my hands, I took that dive, and over the last 2 years have started to have a lot of fun with not only new compositions but also adding elements to existing screen prints acquired from….. where else? Frenchy’s.

I’m a little confused about this one. Is that supposed to be Ted Cruz? We get a lot of clothing from the US, particularly the Massachusetts area, so it’s not uncommon to see politically-themed tees from both sides of the political divide. This will be a fun one to mash up for sure.

I made a bunch of these mash-ups last year, and in fact I think it’s probably best that I do a completely separate post about them. They were a ton of fun! But I discovered that they ended up being a HUGE amount of work as well. I would get really involved in certain pieces and sometimes spend days on them, involving layers and layers of ink, often hand-painting certain elements to get them just right. Again, really fun and I loved the results, but not exactly super cost-effective unless I start charging hundreds for them.

I’m a screen printer so noticed this was a misprint right away (if you can’t see it, it’s the straight line going horizontally across the top, indicating where a squeegee got stuck or ran out of ink). Unfortunately you do see a lot of that sort of thing with thrifted tees- no doubt this was likely donated along with a bunch of other misprints by a print shop. But it’s still a beautiful soft discharge print (if a bit cheesy) and deserves a second life as a ZBQ mash-up.

So I burned out on those a bit last year, but now I’m starting to see another backlog of Frenchy’s shirts building up again and am planning to go even harder on these during the second half of 2024. The really cool news is that I’ll not only be making a whole ton of new transfers, I also acquired a new screen press late last year and so will be back on the block doing screen prints again very soon! This should make for a slew of new prints and some very interesting (and busy) mash-up monkey business.

Hatsune Miko is apparently a “virtual star” from Asia who I had never heard of before grabbing this dope tee off the rack a few weeks back. Not sure if this is meant as a sort of “Dark Brandon” moment for Hatsune or what but I’m loving the creepy vibe.

If I have to be honest with myself, I buy these shirts not because I’m hoping to get some kind of return on my investment on them (who knows I might some day but it seems unlikely). No, I do it because I pretty much just love graphic t-shirt culture, and I quite simply get a nice little dopamine hit when I walk out of a Frenchy’s with 3 or 4 weird wacky tees that I never even knew existed when I woke up that day. They go in the bin with the other ones and I’ll forget about them for a while, reliving the thrill a little bit every time I pull them out.

No idea what this is from (if you know please tell me), but DAMN that print! It’s like crack for my eyes. If my eyes were crackheads. This is an example of one that I will probably never even use for anything- just keep it around to admire. I will always be a student of the craft and a fan of the craft.

And occasionally- very occasionally- I’ll find a shirt I actually want to wear. Well, part of the issue is that I’m a fairly large tall man, so a lot of shirts I encounter just don’t fit me to start with. But out of the ones that do, I tend to be pretty particular about what I choose to allow into my overcrowded t-shirt drawer. The last one that made the cut was a pretty cool black Stax records tee that I’m already very fond of. I also have a Full Metal Alchemist shirt I found 2 years ago that was already threadbare and is now to my horror in danger of falling off my back.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is an absolutely ludicrous anime that I found almost impossible to watch, yet I suspect that somehow ties in with part of its appeal. Nonetheless, I was so taken with this screen print I knew it had to join my growing pile of anime weirdness.

I’m actually thinking of making some of my thrifted tees available in the store as is, at least until I get around to mashing them up. Any interest in such an idea? It would also be pretty easy for me to just post them here in the blog. For that matter, if you see anything in this post that you like just contact me.

This one reminded me of a certain Halifax DJ some people out there may recall. The white ink in the print is glow in the dark!
it’s important to keep the little pink happy face at the center of your brain appeased.
Besides graphic tees of course, I also buy a lot of patterned shirts to use for sleeves and so on. It’s a great way to source out a huge variety of different fabric.

Viva Frenchy’s!! I’ll post more the next time my bin starts filling up again.

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