THRIFT STORE SCORES
Crazy Thrift Store Items
THE ADVENTURE NEVER ENDS
I was fourteen the first time I stepped inside a Thrift Store. It changed me. From that moment on, I became a Thrift Store Scavenger. I have always been a sucker for a bodacious bargain, but this goes beyond even that.
Like many others, I have found myself short of funds more often than not. I have rather expensive tastes (the irony) but the budget eludes me. The solution is always thrilling. Thrift shops have yard sale prices on some great stuff – and some not-so-great stuff. Many shops have sales where they mark items down 50-70%! Allow me to list actual items and their prices – all of which were purchased from a thrift store.
- Armani Suit (for Dad) - $12.00
- Anne Taylor cashmere sweater new w/tags - $2.00
- Baby Grand Piano w bench - $200, then additional 30% off
- Dooney and Burke handbag - $4.00
- DKNY tank dress new w/tags - $6.00 then additional 50% off
- Large dog kennel, like new - $14.00
- Chanel suit - $23.00
- Mountain bike - $10.00
- 50 gallonaquarium and stand - $20 sale then additional 50% off
- Vera Wang style formal dress new w/tags - $1.98 (then 75% off that!!!)
You get the idea!! While my husband has discovered some really nice tools, I have sated my inner fashionista by finding some exceptional pieces of clothing. Every year I clothe the kids for summer, and each child’s wardrobe costs less than $30. Our favorite aisle is the book aisle, where I can usually nab a few hardbacks for $.25 apiece. I have some very nice books on art, history, and just about everything else, all purchased at a fraction of retail prices. While not all items are desirable (I steer clear of undergarments, bedding, wigs and most shoes) the benefits far outweigh the negatives. No two visits to a thrift store are ever alike! You’ll never see the same thing twice!
Apart from being cost effective, these shops provide bargain hunters and rummage fanatics (like me) an opportunity to explore the realm for that one unknown-but-desired piece. Like flea markets and yard sales, it is the lure of possibility that so entices the patrons. Any unsuspecting buyer can be delighted when they chance upon a special item, whether it is something rare and expensive, or simply something sentimental. The sense of adventure is activated when the hunt for the treasure begins. Who does not like to discover a worthy and expensive bauble at a pauper’s price?
Fashion is almost as temporary as technology these days, and hardly anyone I know can afford to keep up with the trends. I love fashion. I always have. Around the age of 12 I developed a penchant for fashion magazines. Seventeen was fun, but Vogue ensnared me with haute couture and other-worldly beauties. Had we been overtly wealthy, I would have been one of those young women with 5 closets – one just for shoes! We were not wealthy – not like that. I devised a game where I would scour local thrift stores in search of the perfect retro outfit. I knew that with an arsenal of Rit dyes, spray paint, buttons, fabric glue, and some needle and thread I could enhance many articles of clothing – and even shoes – into my desired creation. The effects were astonishing. I had a baby blue wool two piece suit that could have passed for Chanel. I had electric blue chunky platform shoes that would have made Elton John jealous. I had 30 hats – all from thrift stores.
Some folks I know earn extra income by repurposing their thrift-store finds. An old dresser gets a fresh coat of paint and a new design, and can then be resold as something custom. I have people rent local flea market booths, or start an eBay store, selling items they found at a thrift store. Many of these individuals specialize their products. For example, one lady sells only baby clothing, most of which she purchased for a song at a local thrift shop. She cleans them, repairs them, embellishes them, and then packages them for resale. Another savvy guy buys sports memorabilia at thrift shops and resells his haul online – to a pretty nice tune! To many, a trip to the thrift store is an investment. Some folks might say the stuff in the thrift store is only a step up from garbage. I disagree. To some of us, it’s a gold mine.
There was a time when one could find very expensive antiques sitting around waiting to be discovered in the melee of a thrift shop. Those days are fading fast, especially since patrons and dealers alike have known for years that one family’s junk is truly another buyer’s treasure. More people are aware of antiquities and their importance due to online education and television shows such as The Antiques Road Show. Grandma may have passed away, and there’s her old Duncan Phyfe sofa - no one in the family wants it so off to the thrift store it goes. Viola! An unsuspecting employee working behind the scenes sees an old couch and puts a $30 tag on it. This is why thrift shopping can be cut throat. Finder’s keepers…
There is a reason why the Freak Show at the circus was one of the biggest money-makers. Human nature causes us to be spell-bound by the bizarre. This is also true where thrift stores are concerned. I am not talking about the people – although the human contents of a thrift shop on any given Saturday may cause you to appreciate your gene pool with new-found intensity. I am talking about the crazy, inane, unusual, and downright strange items one stumbles upon in a thrift shop. As a habit, I have taken pictures of the bizarre with my camera phone…for the sake of posterity, of course. Some oddities cannot be explained and yet they sit on a shelf, awaiting a buyer. You may find yourself wondering aloud, “Who paid for this in the first place?” I have seen a Madonna (as in the mother of Christ – not the other one) made entirely out of glued (?) sawdust and glitter, purses that look like a pair of panties, a hat that was a sculpture (in felt and plastic) of the first Thanksgiving dinner including pilgrims and Indians (it played music, too: Amazing Grace at that!), a seashell clock molded in plastic, and so much more. I have friends who are also thrift store junkies, and now we cannot help but text one another some of our craziest finds.
The garbage patch is in the ocean – a terrible swirling island of debris and Lord-knows-what-else, and I have read reports where divers recorded their discoveries among the omage of offal. They found boxes with shoes still in them, perhaps where the contents of cargo ships drifted until they found a home. Plastic bags, toys, rubber duckies, intertubes, balloons, old sandwiches still sealed safely inside their Ziploc baggies, nurdles, hockey gloves, computer monitors, LEGOS, tires…you get the idea. While I would never make light of such a natural tragedy, I do find a bizarre link between the mismatched castoffs of the world’s garages and yard sales, even trash, and their journey to the thrift stores of the world.
If you have never been to a thrift store, try it out. Thrift shops and flea markets separate the patient from the impatient, and it seems people either love them or loathe them. Either way, you cannot deny their appeal, especially in an age when every dollar becomes crucial to our survival. For now, I have included some photos of the bizarre and uncanny – all of which were discovered in a thrift store. So get out there, take a $20 and hit a thrift shop. You never know what you might find. Oh, and if you find something too crazy to be true, don’t forget to send me a photo!