POSTED ON JANUARY 28, 2009:
Tap those Piggy Bank
Rare knick-knacks await eager 'thrifters' all across T-Town
Eureka! I had two goals for the week. The first was to write about thrift stores and the many useful items found within. The second: to locate an Andy Williams record at each of the stores. My backup (which I fully adopted at the third store) became the search for the most random object at the five shops I visited.
What's going on? I've asked myself that many times lately. Whether it's the empty store fronts at the mall, the big bailouts, or the housing crisis, I get the distinct impression this is all going to lead to me saying, in 15-20 years, "Yeah, it used to be different. Kids, I remember when...."
For my parents, it was the price of a soda or a gallon of gas. I already talk about inflation, and I'd like to only have to touch on the price of today's tea in 2025, but who knows? I can't say exactly what it will be for me, but it will probably be defined by the current economic environment. We now know we're about to have 567 empty Circuit City stores, two of which will be located in Tulsa. What will happen to these buildings? And, more importantly, the employees?
It's safe to say we're all in search of bargains. We want to revert to the prices of the 1950's. You'd buy a coke for a nickel and fill up the gas tank for less than $5, but that ain't happening. But, we can find a deal or two out there.
I had two goals for the week. The first was to write about thrift stores and the many useful items found within. The second: to locate an Andy Williams record at each of the stores. I quickly abandoned the second goal after visiting several locations and realizing Andy Williams just wasn't in the house. My backup (which I fully adopted at the third store) became the search for the most random object at the five shops I visited.
The five shops were as follows: Animal Aid (15th and Harvard), Community Thrift Store (6921 E. Admiral Pl.), Value Thrift Store (11th and Memorial), The Salvation Army (21st and Sheridan), and Quality Thrift Store (51st and Peoria). I tried to include six stores in the competition, but my attempts to visit the Bargains A Lot (11th and Harvard) have proven unsuccessful. They're only open 10am to 2pm, Tuesday through Saturday.
One noticeable omission from the scavenger hunt is Goodwill. There's an explanation. I didn't want to sway the search for oddities by stumbling on random stuff I previously owned. So, there were five.
I began thrifting (the verb used to refer to shopping at a thrift store -- not yet a word) at Animal Aid (Monday-Friday 9-5, Saturday 9-4), the least thrifty of the stores in this lot. It's hard to suggest random objects at Animal Aid. It's not their specialty. They're a no-nonsense shop with money to be raised for needy animals. The shop has been self-described as "upscale" and "chic," so be on your best behavior, and remember a treat for the gregarious cats. They know why you shop.
Next, our course took us to the Community Thrift Store (Monday-Saturday 9-9, Sunday 10-7). We had our eyes open for white and green tags. Or, the tags of the day -- a 50 percent discount for color-coded items. Community, of the five I visited, has the greatest selection. If you bet it had a fair number of random things, you were right. Sadly, though, neither the Wayne's World board game nor "Flush the Potty" was the recipient of today's top prize. It is a good location to find clothing, specifically coats and jackets. It's also one of the few places to locate Andy Williams on vinyl and pay thrift store prices. I left with nothing.
We continued our quest at Value Thrift Store (Monday-Saturday 9-9, Sunday 10-6). Several months ago, I purchased an assortment of baskets at this location and converted them, with the aid of spray paint, into holiday baskets. At less than $8 for six or seven baskets, once filled with goodies, they worked well for gift-giving. Today, the most random objects were three matching sombreros and a book about irregular Portuguese verbs. I did find a Mark Twain novel for 86 cents. Made it worth the trip.
Many of you may not identify with digging through discarded "junk" in search of "treasure." In my case, random treasures. It's something I didn't fully appreciate until I witnessed "junk" being re-used or upcycled (the process of taking waste and creating a new product from it) by those more craftier than I. Now I cherish the opportunity to experience such innovation.
Andy Warhol towels and a carrot coffee mug were the oddest finds at the Salvation Army (Monday-Saturday 10-6). Yeah, not all that odd, right? But, we did manage to locate a shower curtain. Finally! It's been months and months of searching. We could never find the right curtain. They were always ridiculously inflated in price or gaudy. At nearly 1/10 the price of many curtains, we settled. Now, our seven annual guests will shower in style! Inexpensive style!
Our final destination had me eager for something strange, gross, awkward or bizarre. I couldn't award the most random award to a book on irregular Portuguese verbs or a purring cat. Then, like the closing scene of any Oscar-nominated film, it happened. There was a standard basket with a 40-inch handle. Later, a slushee maker. Later still, a shrimp butler, an all-in-one shrimp butterflier and shrimp deveiner. I googled it. It looked more like an index finger remover, but it was the shrimp butler. Now, we had some candidates. Some strong candidates at that.
I nearly settled on the shrimp butler, but fortunately I made my way to the area with the art, and there it was. A standard plaque. Similar to the one you'd receive for a hole-in-one or for being the runner-up at a spelling bee, but this was different. It was the award of excellence in the marketing of frozen onion rings. Frozen. Onion Rings. It had already been awarded to a gentleman, a marketing genius, in the past, but today it was my most random thrift store item of the day. If you're searching for oddities, there's one location above all else: Quality Thrift Store (Monday-Saturday 10-9, Sunday 12-6).
So, if you're in search of deals, a quirky gift, or you just want to forget your cares with some light shopping, thrifting could be your thing. At the end of the day, I'd spent less than $5. On the way home, I so badly wanted some onion rings.
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