Jen Meneely and Pippa Williams tell the story of Too Cheap Blondes this way: It was March 2013, and both women happened to be shopping in the same Goodwill store when Pippa recognized Jen from a recent Houston Chronicle article in which Jen had been featured. Pippa introduced herself and told Jen that she too was a thrift blogger. As soon as Jen got home and read Pippa’s blog, she knew she wanted to know Pippa better. A week later they had a lunch date and did a little thrifting together afterward, kind of a trial run. That sealed the deal, and Too Cheap Blondes was born.
Jen, married and the mother of one daughter, has lived in River Oaks for seven years – she is originally from Fort Bend County – and Pippa lives in The Woodlands with her husband and four children. You may have seen Too Cheap Blondes on local TV or maybe you even follow their blog.
We recently caught with Jen and Pippa and asked a few nosy questions.
Tell us about your education. University or straight into work?
Jen: I have a B.S. in criminal justice from UHD.
Pippa: I went to Northwest Bible College but always worked a minimum of 30 hours or more.
What do you collect?
Jen: Vintage clothing. I just love the quality of a great vintage piece.
Pippa: Dishes. I have at least eight full sets of dishes. It is so hard to pass up a set of $500-plus dishes for only $20 in a thrift store.
What’s the most memorable thing you’ve ever found in a thrift shop?
Jen: I found a set of 12 antique hand-colored fern prints that had been framed by The Antiquarium for $24 at Goodwill. They are hanging in my entryway along with a piece of original artwork that I picked up for $10 at Goodwill.
Pippa: Chanel ball gown for $65. That is way more than Jen or I normally spend, but considering the original retail value was around $5000-plus, it was a bargain.
Do you have a secret talent?
Jen: I’m hypermobile and can do all sorts of neat party tricks.
Pippa: None that I can think of
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Jen: I was pretty directionless. I just knew that I was going to break the cycle of poverty that I grew up in.
Pippa: Anything but a pastor’s wife. (My dad was a minister.)
What is your favorite flower?
Pippa: Pansies. I would stay with my Nana during the summer and we would always plant and maintain the flowerpots full of pansies. She would make up elaborate reincarnated stories about the individual face on each flower. I found it fascinating to think that I was taking care of a pirate or a princess from the 1500s.
A fun fact about yourself that most people don’t know?
Jen: I was a Business Professionals of America national proofreading champion my senior year of high school.
Pippa: All of my family (from Oregon) moved here to work with Lakewood Church. I didn’t want to be left behind so I also moved to Houston. My sister helped with the Spanish television, brother-in-law worked with the Spanish choir/band and my dad worked on a ministerial level with the choir.
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
Jen: A Hinckley picnic boat or a restored Fiat Jolly.
Pippa: A house for my parents to live in.
What are your top three Houston thrift shops?
Jen: I love Goodwill, Family Thrift Center and Family Thrift Center Outlet.
Pippa: Family Thrift Center Outlet (every single item is priced at only $2), Goodwill and Assistance League of Houston.
What’s the most important thing to keep in mind when one is thrifting?
Jen: You need time and patience. I’ll sometimes visit the same thrift store five times before I find a treasure. The beauty of thrift shopping is that you’re shopping in a brand new store every single day since most stores restock on a daily basis. You really never know what tomorrow is going to bring.
Pippa: Some days are much better than others. It is easy to get discouraged and think this is horrible. Then, for some reason, the next time will be a major thrift haul score.