I might have a problem


I’ve covered before my love of thrifting. But recently I have harbored a suspicion that my quaint hobby could actually be a clinical problem.

I’ve been caught sneaking thrift trips. The conversation goes something like this:

Me: Hey, do you have plans tonight? I need to run to Target — we’re completely out of toilet paper (which may or may not have happened due to intentional oversight on my part).

Tim: Uh, sure. I mean, we can’t be without toilet paper.

(we eat dinner, I leave, return in two hours)

Tim: Get lost on the way to Target?

Me: I know! Traffic was so bizarrely heavy for 8pm on a Wednesday! And Target? It was a total mess! And, well, you know, I was just driving right by Value World, so I just ran in for a second.

(At this point, I sheepishly bring in the piles of junk discoveries, eager to win him over to my cause by telling how little I spent after using my 50% off coupon. He is not convinced, and just responds with something completely oblique like where are we going to put all that crap or did you really need another enameled pan we already have five that look just like it.)

The past couple of weeks, my obsession has been fueled to new, dangerous levels. We have a Goodwill Outlet in town — and if you’ve never been to one, I’ll offer a description: a huge warehouse room, where big bins of junk are wheeled out 4 times a day. People literally run to the bins, to be the first to start digging. After my first visit, I stashed a pair of rubber gloves in my purse for future trips. It’s junk, it’s trash. But in there, buried, is sometimes a treasure. They price it by the pound — 69Β’.

I think of it like stopping at one of those kitschy mines in the mountains, to pay to pan for gold.

I’ve been subconsciously rearranging my schedule in order to have reasons to drive by the outlet. I might not get in a trip this week, and — no exaggeration — this is causing much anxiety.

And I’m not alone. My friend Erin (her blog brings me joy every single time I read it, she is both magical and real, and has a knack for making everything beautiful) has started a weekly post called Out of the Bin — where she shows a photo of her recent Goodwill find as she first sees it in the bin, and then a photo of the item in her home. She’s the one who introduced me to The Outlet — rumor has it she can go 3 times in one week — and has found (or witnessed others finding) things such as brand-new Danskos and Phil & Ted strollers.

And while I would not think twice about scooping up a $500 stroller to resell on Craigslist, when thrifting I am mostly looking for kitchen goods.

In my 2 trips to the Goodwill Outlet, I’ve yet to be coordinated enough to snap a photo of an item before I grab it out of the bin (if you read Erin’s post, she too might start second-guessing this habit, as it can be risky). But I did snap a semi-before and after photo of a recent thrifting find — not at Goodwill, but at another chain of stores called Value World. First stop is kitchen wares — quirky vintage, high-end pots and pans, old popcorn poppers to use as coffee roasters. I came across a pile of vintage enamelware — 16 pieces in all — for $7.50. Why buy 16 pieces of enamelware? The plan is to fill my kitchen with vintage items that are often better quality than modern-day counterparts, on the cheap. A bonus would be to sell things in my Etsy Store (don’t bother browsing, there are currently no items), and make my millions.

A perfectly logical fantasy from a woman who spends her time donning gloves and digging through other people’s junk.

Next stop, dumpster-diving.

{you can put your weed in there}

16 thoughts on “I might have a problem

  1. I would be laughing hysterically if it weren’t for a sleeping baby about 2 inches to my left. I can kind of understand you problem. See, I used to work for The J. Peterman Company and we would have sample sales. These were for employees only, so no general public to get in your way. We could always spot a first timer: two – three huge garbage bags full of junk. But it nothing was usually over $10. Like the $300 postmans bag – $10. But if it had a “sample” tag on it or had a hole it was ONE dollar. I have a full-length 100% cashmere dress that cost me $1 because it was a vendors sample. So, we more experienced employee sample sales attenders didn’t waste our time on most of it, we knew what the good deals were. We knew the junk. One time, they had a shipment of $1400 Campaign chests that were not first quality and they had a drawing and 10 people each got to buy one for $100. I as one of the lucky ones. I learned a lot about NOT buying junk at those sales. Luckily I have been able to pass that knowledge on to my ever-thrifty husband who used to have a very, VERY hard time passing up a deal. Whether it was something he could use or not. Just last night he was trying to tell me he could sell some 6-year-old-mostly-unused lotion on ebay. And now, I must dig through a mountain of stuff that was packed up to be moved to Indianapolis but will be staying here instead. Wish me luck. There’s a waffle iron out there somewhere!

    1. ok, I’m sorry, but I’m totally stuck on the part where you said you worked for the J. Peterman Co.

      You’re ELAINE!!!!

      1. Well, you’re not the first to say that… but for completely different reasons. I was no where nearly as glamorous as Elaine. After they began that storyline on Seinfeld, we got so many calls asking if there really was a J. Peterman. And one time he was standing about 10 feet away and I said, “Yes, and he’s standing right here. Would you like to talk to him?” He would have done it, too. He’s kind of crazy. But nothing like the one on Seinfeld.
        Hey, I need an enameled basin and I’m coming up there this weekend. Where is this “Value World?” The name scares me as my dad cautioned me that any establishment with the word “Value” in the name most assuredly did not have any real value. πŸ™‚

    1. yeah, um, ours isn’t so clean.

      That PURSE!!! What an amazing find! (add “lusting after others’ thrift finds” to my list of problems)

      and I KNOW the thrifting gene runs in your family ; )

  2. I’m right there with you Katy— my brother calls it all “Holly Hobbie ‘stuff'” — not really stuff but the other “s” word!
    When I first moved to GA and was unpacking he came in and said he kept feeling this compulsion to pick things up and turn them over to see how much it cost, since he felt like he was in an old lady thrift store.
    Men! they just don’t get the thrill of the hunt! πŸ™‚

    1. Ha! I would probably love to walk through your house and see all your Hollie Hobbie “stuff”.

      And, I too, have taken things from the side of the road. I have two wonderful little mid-century wooden swivel chairs that I took from a trash heap in Asheville ; )

  3. Oh, all the adventurous things you downtown folks get to do . . . Value World, Goodwill Outlet, Mario’s Surplus World of Wonder (or whatever it’s called). Sometimes the suburbs kind of suck.

    And FYI, if you’re looking for a good resource on how to grow the weed to put in your enamelware, there was a nice book on growing your own marijuana in the gardening section at Borders the other day. 50% off, baby . . . and no one would touch it with a ten foot pole.

  4. this made me smile and blush and smile some more. then i spent the whole day thinking of what i could possibly say as a comment. just know that you are understood. i went sunday and i went today. ahhhh! but i found a huge 1978 tie fighter in perfect shape (you’re welcome luke and clark) and a large flowered 60s suitcase and a ton of clothes and a japanese children’s piano and and and… and luke is kinda over it. he is making me sell on etsy. it’s something i’ve never wanted to do (time, work, having to part with pretties) but our house is too full. he said if i don’t start selling it on there that he will. so.

  5. Just READING about that place made my heart beat faster. I am already in withdrawal because I haven’t been to any of my bargain places in a month — now you dangle this new treat in front of me, a person who is still in a cast.

  6. Value World? Where IS this place and how have I never heard of it?! And I need to hit up the Goodwill outlet more often to find some things for my upcoming wedding. I’ve been looking for either an antique birdcage or suitcase to put cards in on our gift table and the birdcages they sell in the wedding sections? Ridiculously expensive!

    I’ve been going to the Goodwill that’s right up the street from my house in Carmel (the Goodwill is actually in Westfield) to get pretty, glass sundae dishes and plates to make cake stands to hold the cupcakes for the wedding because actual cake stands are way too expensive to buy one for each table. We’re on a budget here, people!

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