Through unemployment and an 85-pound weight loss journey, Shelley Fisher gained much more than she lost.
The North Las Vegas resident powered through two of her most difficult life hurdles and came out on the other side blinging.
Fisher started a program called "Shoestring Bling," in which she uses her savvy shopping skills to help people find great bargains at thrift stores.
"Like the book said, somebody moved my cheese, so I found new cheese," Fisher said, referring to the book, "Who Moved My Cheese?"
She sharpened her skills six years ago when her income was shrinking at the same time as her waistline, thanks to Weight Watchers.
She faced a harsh reality at each weight milestone when looking down at the scale and up at her closet.
"I realized I couldn't afford $40 transition pants every 10 pounds," she said.
The 51-year-old started shopping at thrift and secondhand stores, and soon bargain shopping was a way of life.
"I dress to the nines, and people are blown away when I share where I get my stuff," she said.
Fisher said she decided to build on others' tendency to want advice on her thrifty ways.
She has done some personal shopping and seminars and has hosted shopping challenges at area thrift stores. Fisher, who is a theater student at the College of Southern Nevada's Cheyenne campus and a budding stand-up comedian, said she has also helped friends update their wardrobes and improve their self-esteem with "Shoestring Bling."
"It's not just about shopping; it's about second chances," she said. "You learn more and more and don't realize you're just enjoying yourself."
Fisher likes to patronize nonprofit organizations first, she said, but doesn't consider herself a "thrift store snob."
Fisher has outfitted herself and her home in thrift store finds. Her sleeper couch was $35.
She opts not to purchase gifts, hygiene items and underwear secondhand.
Fisher hunts for deals on bargain days at the thrift stores and waits to make purchases. Her biggest coups include snagging a pair of Versace trousers for $1 and Prada sandals for $3.
She makes her rounds to valley thrift stores about three times a week.
Eric Clarkson, Fisher's longtime friend, helps with housewares and furniture shopping. Clarkson, who performs as comedic character Tawdri Hipburn, said he has outfitted his home "divinely" on a comedian's budget.
"I like to keep my home beautiful and to help my friends," he said. "I've found everything you can imagine: art deco pieces, it's like items that were $9.99 and valued at $900 online."
Like Fisher, Clarkson shops on coupon or value days and stops in frequently to research buys. He said Las Vegas is a good bargain town because outlet stores and conventions will often donate their goods new or nearly new for a tax write-off.
Clarkson commended Fisher for her savvy in the stores.
"I adore her," he said. "When she finds something that's 25 cents that was originally $250, there is nothing better to her on the planet."
Through "Shoestring Bling," Fisher said she hopes to promote more "green shopping" in recycled wares and to dispel stigmas associated with secondhand material.
"You just have to look at an item very carefully," she said.
Fisher is also filming a reality special with her CSN peers about her shopping skills. She hopes to translate it into a series.
As her mini thrifting empire builds, Fisher keeps her hook at the forefront.
"I get my bling on a shoestring, and so can you," she says.
For more information, contact Fisher at email@example.com or 300-0829.
Contact North Las Vegas and Centennial View reporter Maggie Lillis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 477-3839.