Tag Archive: thrift stores


On Thursday Mother Dearest and I went up to Charlotte for a bit as a sort of mini-vacation.

It's fun just to drive around, your ears flapping in the breeze.

We had been there last year and knew where all the good thrift stores were, so our one day would be well spent.

And of course we had to go to IKEA and of course I forgot my camera. If you do go to IKEA, the day to go is Thursday. That’s the day the restaurant has a roast chicken meal for $1.99. Very tasty.

I bought a pillow and then took a nap in one of the showrooms. Those IKEA folk said some very unkind things. Like it's my fault I sleep naked.

The next day, fully rested, we headed to our favorite area thrift store – the Goodwill Outlet Store.

:cue angelic choir:

This place is fantastic – it’s where all the stuff no one wanted to buy in the area Goodwills go to die. Basically it is a giant empty storefront filled with shallow blue bins. You push around these squarish plastic bins that look like trash cans and toss in what you want to buy. They weigh it and charge you by the pound ($1.39 regardless of what you’ve picked up) but things are just randomly heaped together so you have to dig through all the stuff to find something good.

It smells like dreams, dryer sheets, and sweaty socks. Esther and Camille here were looking for baby clothes for Esther's new great-grandbaby, I heard all about it AND Brother Raymond's colonoscopy while I was looking for shirts.

The fellas pushing out the new bins were swarmed as soon as they left the back room, it was scary at times. Whole Hispanic families and old black ladies followed the bins in clusters like baby ducklings; I feared for the young man’s health at times, people kept stepping on him as they tried to be the first to pick over what other people had discarded. Every time he brought out a new bin he would have to shout at everyone to keep back until he had it locked in place. There were even blue lines painted on the floor and the people had to stay behind the line until the wheels were locked. You could hear them yelling “Keep behind the line, people!” all over the store. Then it was like those nature specials where a flock of vultures find the rotting carcass of a zebra.


I was also reminded of tossing out feed for chickens, but the zebra thing has a better visual.

For lunch we drove to the Charlotte location of the Grand Asia Market, which was every bit as awesome as the Cary location, but even more so. For one thing, they had even more kinds of bread.

Lots of bread.

Lots and lots of bread

Hi Mom!

Lots and lots and lots of bread. I did not know there were so many different ways to make bread.

I don't know what these things are, but I want to eat one.

I had a ham and corn bun, a chicken pastry thing, and a steamed pork bun. With a purchase from the bakery you got a free iced coffee, which was quite tasty.

Mother Dearest had beef and broccoli with fried rice, also quite tasty.

The oddest cupcakes I have ever seen, more like miniature angel food cakes.

I'd like to live in this display case.

This cake was in the end of the case nearest the register and it was situated so the berries were staring at you while you were checking out.

After shopping for a while and picking up a few things, we bought ourselves some bubble teas, Mother Dearest’s very first one, and headed out. On to another thrift shop!

I had mango, it was delicious. You could really taste the fruit.

Mother Dearest had strawberry, I think she liked it once she got accustomed to the tapioca.

It was a Value Village, which I like better than the Goodwill. They mark down stuff more, have different color tags that are either 25% or 75% off and a bunch of stuff that is stuffed into bags and sold really cheap. Not quite as good as the outlet bins, but good.

Although there are some things that do not need to be reused.

We also managed to find not one but two creepy clowns in the toy section.

Creepy bloated clown. it's eyes seemed to follow me.

Second creepy clown. I was afraid to touch it.

After a good meal we called it a day. That was the end of our only full day away from home, and we kept pretty busy. The next morning we bid farewell to our hotel’s teeny-tiny bathroom with the pocket door installed by Satan himself and headed home.

Behold the portal to hell.

After a stop at Yoder’s, a chain of bulk food stores we had visited when when visited Pennsylvania. We had seen the sign on the way to Charlotte but had been unable to find it. Uncle Google gave us the address and we stopped on our way home.

 Hi Mom!

Mother Dearest contemplates the selection.

Thus ended my awesome mini-vacation. I haven’t taken any pictures of what I bought, I’m still unpacking and washing and so forth. Hopefully in the next few days.


Busy Busy Busy

Been busy traveling to Charlotte and going to IKEA and various thrift stores so I haven’t written anything today and I don’t have anything left in my queue. Instead, enjoy this picture of Fearless sitting on my duffel bag.

Take me with you!


Be back tomorrow with tons of photos from my trip!

Rescue Me!

Not much to write about today, spent most of yesterday at the Durham Rescue Mission. If you are ever in the Durham, NC area and you love thrift stores like I do, this is a great place to go. They have tons of stuff, anything from the usual clothes, furniture, and household goods to cars and boats. All of it is donated and the profits from the store go to help the local homeless, so you get a great bargain and help people out in the process. If you make a donation and show your reciept at the checkout, you get a discount on your purchases. They also have a punchcard program, every ten dollars spent gets you a punch, once the card is full you get an additional discount. (Mother Dearest has several cards in various states of punchity-punchness.)

On to the photos!

The outdoor bins - lots of stuff.

GhostBoy, waiting for Grandma to get finished looking at whatever she's looking at.

So ... Much ... Stuff...

Yet more stuff outside. I haven't even made it to the door yet.


Here we have the rare Khaki-Legged Mother Dearest, browsing in her natural habitat.

My God ... It's full of shirts. And pants.



GhostBoy is looking quite dapper. He tied that tie all by himself, too.

I found this in one of the inside bins. It was even scarier in person.

Discarded Memories

Thrift stores are inherently odd places.

You are, for all intents and purposes, rummaging through a stranger’s things. They are items that have been discarded for one reason or another; because they no longer fit or have gone out of style, or the original owner tired of them, or sadly because of death or some other tragedy. You don’t know why that particular item is there and you don’t know who used it or wore it before you.

I have a shirt on right now that I bought at a thrift store this weekend. It’s quite comfortable, but I have no idea who wore it before I did. It’s quite possible I’m wearing the shirt of a serial killer, but it’s also just as possible that I’m wearing the shirt of an accountant, or the shirt of a schoolteacher, or even the shirt of Batman.

Okay, it's probably not Batman's shirt. A girl can dream, can't she?

My point is, you don’t think about who ate off those dishes or who sat in that chair or wore those shoes before you bought them. You just check things over to make sure it’s in good condition, take it home, and start using it. Maybe you freshen it up with some new paint, a little Febreeze, and I hope a good cleaning, but you don’t think about who had it before you.

Let’s take, for example, a couch.

Couches are pretty common in thrift stores; it’s easier to donate a couch (or any large piece of furniture) than it is to take one to the dump, and they can vary in age and condition. There’s a nice one over there, not too ugly and within your budget.

This one.   You are very broke.

You get this hypothetical couch home and spritz it a few times, maybe run the vacuum over it, and put it where the old couch (which you donate to the thrift store) used to be. Put some throw pillows on it, drape a blanket over the back, really girl it up.

Now take a good look at your new hypothetical couch. Chances are  someone has thrown up on it. Could have been a person, a pet, or a baby, but you can almost guarantee that something distasteful has happened on that hypothetical couch. Chances are equally good that someone has bled on it;  from a nosebleed, or a paper cut, or a vicious cheese-grater murder.

We've all thought about it.

And that’s not the worse that could have happened; I will not go into specifics, but sitting isn’t the only thing you can do on a hypothetical couch. There is a very good statistical likelihood that some form of bodily fluid has touched that upholstery at some time in its past. You just have no way of knowing.

The same goes for clothes.

I bought this shirt and the one I wore yesterday from the same thrift store at the same time. They are roughly the same size and condition, so it is possible that the same person donated both but it’s not very likely. I don’t know who these people were, if they are alive or dead, what their personal grooming habits were. There’s no way I could, and yet I have pressed to my skin something that spent at least some portion of time pressed against their skin.

It’s a strange sort of secondhand intimacy – I would never walk up to a complete stranger and press my bare skin against them, not without massive amounts of mood-altering substances.

But I have no problem wearing a stranger’s discarded clothing.

I'm part hobo on my mother's side.

I’m not suggesting that people should only buy brand new things and set fire to all their used belongings, that would be incredibly wasteful.

Nor do I suggest you go shopping with a C.S.I. style light to find all traces of the former owners.

That would be ridiculous.

We don’t think about these things because it would drive us crazy.

Well, crazier.

Knowing the intimate history of everything you own would be a monumental task, one your brain just couldn’t handle. So it shunts that information aside as being unimportant. You’re worried about being ambushed by rad-roaches or headcrabs, not who wore your shirt before you. There might be a passing thought about the comfort of your ass as you sit on the hypothetical couch, but that’s about it. Unless you enjoy one of several mental disorders that force you to obsess about such things, you could literally care less.

Screw the bodily fluids, I gotta save Princess Peach!

I suspect it’s something intrinsic to human nature, “This object is mine now, it has no history because I did not own it then.” Humanity as a whole can be a fairly self-centered bastard at times.

It’s one of our most dubious charms.

Rivaled only by our obsession with deep-frying all matter of crap.