I love thrift stores. I buy pretty much everything there, which is great because that way I am not paying retail and usually don’t pay sales tax, either. I don’t get the extra packaging that is so hard to get things out of. It sometimes takes a team of rocket scientists to figure out how to open that hard plastic which encases the Costco razor blades.
I get a lot of judgment from others who are not as enlightened about shopping as I am. They don’t understand that I can buy a plate hanger for fifty cents at a thrift store or pay $4.99 for it at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. They don’t know that three packages of colored twine for $1.50 at the Good Will is a better deal than one package of plain twine for $7.00 at Ace Hardware.
I haven’t been to a mall or Target in years, except to buy Christmas presents. I don’t give thrift-store finds for Christmas, well, not usually. I did give one adult child a thrift-store book, First 1000 Words in Chinese.
I bought my girlfriend two pink vintage Fiestaware bowls in Carmel because she likes pink. Her comment was, “You are still buying things?”
“Yes, for you,” I said.
My brother in law commented two weeks ago on all of my stuff.
My first thought was, I don’t say anything about how much you ____ (fill in the blank with whatever comes to mind).
My mother clucked her tongue the other day and said, “You stopped at an estate sale. Really?”
“Yes. I bought a dryer.”
“How old is it?” she said with her judge-y voice.
“I don’t know,” I said. “The guy is dead.”
So when my mom gifted me four boxes of her belongings from Iowa two weeks ago after the quilt show, I unpacked them with these people’s comments in my ear. I looked at the chipped chicken cookie jar I’d given my mom decades before and thought, I don’t need this.
I saved the clear goblets and the 1950’s glasses and bowls with lace and gold enhancements, a wedding gift to my parents. I dumped out the salt and pepper in the leaded etched glass salt and pepper shakers from my great grandmother. I looked at the pink square Teleflora vase and thought, I don’t need this.
On my way out of town I donated a box of stuff by leaving it in front of the Church Mouse thrift store, which wouldn’t open until noon.
Ten days later I got a text from my younger sis. Mom wants the square vase back.
I haven’t seen a square vase, I texted back.
Oh yes, I had seen it and had even been to that same thrift store a week later. The chipped cookie jar had been there on the main table.
She really wants it back. It’s from her sister, my sister texted.
Of all the things that, to me, had no value, it was that Teleflora vase. I stuck to my story that I hadn’t seen it, not wanting to make my mother more upset. Some other things were missing from her moving boxes – her Lladro porcelain musician figurines, and two Barbie dolls, one from the 60’s.
As luck would have it, my oldest child was flying into Monterey to speak at a conference. I wanted to see her since she lives back East. We set up a lunch date, and I had a reason to visit my beach town.
Yesterday I arrived here and went to the Church Mouse thrift store after it opened. There on the main table was the pink square vase with a price tag of $3.00.
I told the volunteer behind the counter my story.
“Just take it,” she said.
“No, it is worth $3.00 to get it back,” I said. “It’s a miracle it’s still here.”
I texted my sister. Found the vase!
It wasn’t a complete lie. I did find it (where I’d left it) for sale at the Church Mouse.
My sister (or my aunt) might read this post. If she does, I do hope she will have the good sense not to tell our mother.