Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Weather Outside is Frightful. And That’s Not the Only Thing…

In visits to flea markets, garage sales and those beloved thrift stores, we at Let’s Go Thrifting have encountered many a strange find over the years.  And judging by a few specific finds I myself have acquired, I believe it's possible that I’ve discovered a unique ability to successfully scare family and friends.

Children Painting Resized

This oil painting on canvas was found at my favorite secondhand bookstore in Philadelphia. I was at first hesitant to spend $20. But then I wondered if  I would ever again encounter such a vivid depiction of a   multicultural clan of doll-children escaping from some post-apocalyptic wasteland... It's now hanging in my bedroom.

This is, quite possibly, the most inappropriate book in publication. The most frightening thing about this find? Well that's a tie between a title that's straight out of an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and the author whose sole credentials on the supposed scientific matter of staring at people lie in his self-appointed expertise as a "Chief Watcher." Creepy? Yes. Hilarious? With a hearty guffaw, yes! In a future experiment, I plan to take this book to the nearest Starbucks and occasionally peer above the pages to practice the science of "body watching." My hypothesis? A swift escort off the premises.


In an effort to literally scare my sister, I bought a plastic bag of clown heads. 17 assorted smiling and crying decapitated clowns for .99 cents. What a deal! I lined a row of crying clowns inside the bathroom medicine cabinet. And I left a handful of smiling clowns neatly arranged on her bed. Then I just listened for the reaction. It was priceless. Since the initial scare, I’ve kept the clown heads in a wicker basket displayed in the living room…as a sort of conversation piece. The conversation usually goes: Are those clown heads? Why, yes they are…Followed by an awkward silence.

And in a special contribution to things that go creep at the thrift store, friend and Let’s Go Thrifting fan Angie Schlauch of Langhorne, PA sent us these:

Mummy Mutant
This was described as a “mummified Tony Harrison” due to a striking resemblance of this character from The Mighty Boosh.

It’s uncanny!

Knitting Grandma Chimp
Also, Angie documented a disturbing case of animal cruelty, when this knitting grandma chimp was spotted working at the sweat shop, then retired to the shelves of the Holy Redeemer thrift store.

Thanks for sharing, Angie. Contributions and comments are always welcome!

Funny how we encounter, document and occasionally feel the need to buy these cultural oddities...these hideous, inexplicably strange artifacts of other people's bad taste reflected by our own sick sense of humor.

What strange and horrifying secondhand things have you spotted lately?


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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Donate Now to De-Clutter Your Christmas

Unless your family is this compact, ya better start tidying up for the holidays!

The holiday season is here and so the is all of the chaos that comes with it. Family flying in from out of town, a mountain of boxed and bagged gifts and stuffed stockings will soon be flooding your households with holiday cheer. But before you exchange gifts, bake the fruitcakes and make room for auntie’s sleeping arrangements, why not take the time to tidy up?

Of course you’re likely to dust, run the vacuum cleaner, spray some pine-scented air freshener. But why not confront the ghost of Christmases past and purge some unused goods too?

Chances are you’ll need every inch of space for guests and gifts. So here are a few helpful hints to make room for all that holiday spirit:
  • Go through a few closets and sort out any un-worn or ill-fitting clothes and shoes. Don’t forget those holiday sweaters you’ve acquired over the years!
  • Filter your holiday decorations to the ones you actually use and enjoy. Ask yourself: Do I really need five dancing Santa Clause dolls and 10 tree toppers?
  • Do you still have gifts from last year that just weren’t quite your style? Mint in the box Chia Pets, 1000 piece puzzles you just don’t want to assemble, a Snuggie perhaps?
  • So many clearance sale goers stock-up on holiday decor, gift sets, and more after the holiday, by the time the next Christmas rolls around, they’ve forgotten all about their post-holiday stockpile. And this is exactly how you end up owning 50 rolls of holiday wrapping paper. (No exaggeration. This person, who shall remain unnamed, does exist and at one time owned this much or more).

So don’t put the ho-ho-ho in hoarding this holiday season. Donate all unwanted goods to your local thrift store before your family and friends come caroling at your doorstep.


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Thrift Fail: What NOT To Donate

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Welcome to the New and Improved Let's Go Thrifting!

These folks can barely contain their excitement.

Check out the first featured post under the brand spankin' new Collections page, a piece I'd like to call 1000 Words. Take a gander at my gallery of fabulous vintage photos and marvel in the hair styles and wardrobe.  And be excited for future updates all about our weird and wonderful collections!

Also note that we are now licensed under Creative Commons. Share and share alike!  Just give credit where credit is due...and tell a friend of how cool we are.

A spoiler alert just for you: Our next post will likely include ways to creep-out family and friends.

So stay tuned for exciting new posts, pictures, collection galleries and more!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Incredible Adventures of Kooky and Pooky

Kooky and Pooky roaming the wild.

Okay. So what adventures can two identical purple plush elephants possibly have?

Well it all began a few short months ago...

While thrifting in a nearby Second Ave, a virtual thrift warehouse, I found myself digging through a gigantic bin of affordably priced dolls and stuffed animals.

I am usually hunting for 80’s nostalgic toys from my childhood. Rainbow Brite, Popples, Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake memorabilia frequent my thrift wish list. But more often than not I find an army of teddy bears and knotty haired, naked Barbies.

Now and again, I’ll find a stuffed animal too cute to resist. This particular occasion it was a crazy-eyed purple elephant with big, droopy ears. He was sort of...strange looking. So I decided to adopt him. I paid the 99 cents, took him home and named him Kooky.

A few months later, after we had the wild idea of starting a blog all about thrifting, Joe and I ventured on our first road trip. And wouldn’t you know, sitting on the shelf of a Buck’s County Goodwill in a plastic grab bag was yet another crazy-eyed purple elephant with big droopy ears! So for another 99 cents I nabbed the identical purple pachyderm and two other toys.

I have no doubt that diehard thrifters have experienced thrift déjà vu, where repeat goods seem to appear at every thrift. But this anomaly, like multiple copies of Herb Alpert are often times due to previous popularity. They were popular and now not, so they’re donated en masse. Or perhaps you’ve seen the same kitchen clock, new in box at multiple Goodwill stores? That is typically due to item donations from retailers such as Target or Wal-Mart.  That much makes sense.

But what are the odds that two identical elephants, both of which are in lightly played-with condition, were in two different thrift stores some thirty miles away?

That’s what I like to call thrift karma, folks. A topic which I plan to discuss at length in future blog posts, thrift karma is my personal belief that sometimes we just don’t stumble into good finds. Sometimes those items seem to just find us.

Or in this case, like items find each other.

Elephant Chair
Kooky (left) and Pooky (right) are reunited and it feels so good.

Maybe some of you would care to share some sort of your thrift déjà vu?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Few Photos of Funky Finds

Dan here. First post. Howdo?

I'm not much for words, but here's a few snaps of things I thought were noteworthy, but didn't necessarily want in my home. If you come across these items that I've passed up, feel free to pick them up and cherish them forever. Or at least keep it around to make your guests go, "zomgwtf?!1"

Begin with a few creepy clowns.
The first two images here were found at Columbus Farmer's Market in Columbus, NJ. The place is HUUUGE, mostly outdoors, and open year-round. There're vendors of first-hand merchandise, some pretty good food trucks and the like, but the real highlight (for Joe and I at least) is the flea market tables. Go check it out.

This guy doesn't necessarily look violent, but is still probably a child rapist.

He, on the other hand, will bludgeon you to a bubbling bloody mess with that fancy guitar of his. Just look how frightened the little knick-knack girl looks behind him.

I found this guy at 2nd Ave near the Franklin Mills Mall in NE Philly.

His head comes in rings that stack on a pole to teach children just exactly how a clown's head is formed, and to identify weak points, should they need to destroy a clown.

Moving from clowns to dolls and doll-type things:
This first item was found at the Impact Thrift Store in Montgomeryville, PA.
"This Drink & Wet Doll... ok, that's pretty normal. Like a Little Betty Wets-herself.

"...Is A Physically Correct Male"??!?!
You read correctly. This doll has a penis. That it utilizes to simulate urination. Why?!
The only thing worse than a doll with a penis that simulates urination is a doll with a penis that simulates urination that is also Archie Bunker's grandson.

All too creepy. Just look at him in there. Peering out at you. Just waiting to pee all over you and your loved ones.

So is this guy. Just can't wait to get the drawers off. NE Philly 2nd Ave, once again.

And lastly, for the fashionably inclined, a purple Peeps hat. It's only $290.

Have a good however-long-it-is-before-our-next-post, good readers. Hope you enjoyed my snaps. Keep on thrifting.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Totally 80’s Halloween Cartoon Craftacular!

The crisp air that begs for thrifted argyle sweaters. The horror movie marathons and mountains of miniature candy bars. Fall is my favorite time of year and my annual Halloween party is the highlight of the social calendar.

Now, I don't encourage guests spending big bucks on store-bought costumes. Instead, I encourage thrifty ideas and craft projects. Something like this, for instance.


Straight from the 80’s, it’s Rainbow Brite. Finding this DIY child's costume pattern, among other awesome miscellany to be documented later, was the start to a great day. And scoring this spectacular crafty find for a mere quarter got me thinking about the level of ambition I have reserved for that special night when you get to be someone else…someone who gets free candy.

And that someone I wanted to be for as long as I could remember was none other than Rainbow Brite. And while this thrift score is truly outrageous (Yeah, that was a Jem reference), last year I got my wish.

Halloween costumes 09

That’s right. At 25 years old, I was Rainbow Brite. And it was a heavy workload for a novice crafter. The final product was an estimated 20+ hours of cutting, sewing, gluing and stuffing by hand. My boyfriend and blog co-creator (pictured above) did a lot of the labor too, with both of us working up until the Halloween afternoon just hours before our big bash.

Dan was so involved with the process, in fact, he almost didn’t have time for his own costume. But lo and behold, one day before the party we decided, “Hey, why not stick with the 80’s cartoon theme?”

And so it was. With tattered punk clothes from the nearest Goodwill, a purple mohawk
(yes, a real one), matching shades, chains and a string of ammo…Dan transformed…

bebop pic resized

…into Bebop, one of the airhead villains of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon!  It should be noted that Dan did have a plastic gun that never make it into the picture. He also fashioned a large metal ring for his nose. But it was too uncomfortable to wear all night.

In the end, our 80’s inspired crafted cartoon costumes were a big hit at the party, and a personal triumph, I think.
This year we have also opted for a DIY couples' costume, something a little more contemporary. But I can’t say anything else until after the big night. Don’t want to ruin the surprise!

Now who else out there has thrifted ‘n’ crafted themselves something special this Halloween?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Finger Fun for Children: Teaching Scripture Truths One Inappropriate Gesture at a Time.

Way back, when this blog was just a twinkle in my eye, Joe, one of the co-creators-in-crime and myself took to the road for our first ever Thrift Trip together. And you better believe that after rummaging through nine different thrift stores over a span of six different townships, we hauled in some quality finds.

At first I had my doubts over how productive our trip would be. After all, I had lost twenty minutes to the start of our day stuck in Pennsylvania Turnpike traffic. The weather was a scorching 100 degrees and we were cruising around in a car without air conditioning. But when we made our first stop of the day at a Salvation Army on Bethlehem Pike, all concerns were replaced with unadulterated hilarity.

There was nothing out of the usual at first. A fair assortment of knick-knacks, a 50% reduction on blue colored tags and a few older shoppers milling about the aisles. After perusing the considerable collection of vintage-inspired dishware, I had decided to hit the books.

At first glance it was typical thrift store fare. Encyclopedias, microwave cookbooks and previous bestsellers.

But then I spotted it. The talisman that would charm our entire thrifting adventure.

Finger Fun Cover Resized
A rare 40 cent find that surely reserves a whole new level of Hell just for me.

I first spotted this gem because of the image on the cover. Now, I apologize in advance if this sounds lewd, crude or completely sacrilegious given the content…but what exactly is that picture!?  That poor child’s face has the expression of some sort of guilt-ridden blowup doll! And the finger gesturing. What is that?

I soon got my answer when my eyes found the title at the top of the cover. 202 Things To Do… okay, nothing wrong there.  At Home, Church, School. No, that makes sense.
Activities and Finger Fun for Children. Um. What…?

What in the name of Moses is “Finger Fun?” And why are we encouraging children to participate?
Well...remember that old “Here’s the Church. Here’s the steeple” bit?
Apparently that is just one of the 202 Finger Fun activities for idle-handed children.

Cute idea. Poor execution. Again, I’m sorry to offend. But this is en epic fail in terms of the title.

Finger Fun, really?

The description of the contents on the book’s back cover doesn’t lend any help either.

Finger Fun Back Cover Resized
Wrong. So very, very wrong.

I’m not even going to comment on the vulgarity in this. Sorry, sorry, sorry. I swear I don’t have a sick mind 99% of the time. If they didn’t call the damn book “Finger Fun,” I wouldn’t think this was anything else than a book with a strange cover.

But you know what they say when you judge a book by its cover, right? So, let’s take a peek at a few of those fun finger gestures, shall we?

Finger Fun Page Resized
These pinching and jerking motions sure are fun!

And to think, this was just the beginning of our Thrift Trip adventure. But still I wonder. With "over 100,000 in print" as the cover clearly states, are the other 99,999 owners of 202 Things to Do at Home, Church, School: Activities and Finger Fun for Children as amazed as I am that such a thing even exists?


Sunday, October 10, 2010

A 10/10/10 Special Edition: The Top Ten Things You’ll Find in Every Thrift Store

From the Salvation Army in the Bucks county suburbs to The Philly AIDS Thrift near South Street, regular thrift-goers know their territory. They know the sales, the days and times to beat the crowds and how to scout the store for hidden treasures.

Not every visit to the thrift is going to yield a cart full of 80’s toys, hipster clothes or super cool decor for your apartment. Those treasures are reserved for one day when the stars align and you just happen to find just what you were searching for. Or in the happily-ever-after version, you just stumble upon something so awesome that you weren’t even looking for and your pretentious roommates are beyond jealous of your find.

Now we don’t want to pump you full of false hopes. The sad truth is that fateful day might be a long time coming.

But in the meantime, we at Let’s Go Thrifting have something to tide you over. Actually we have ten somethings.

Next time you think your visit to thrift is a total bust, take a look around. We have. And we noticed a little pattern of repeats… items no thrift seems to lack.

We’ve noticed The Top Ten Things You’ll Find in Every Thrift Store:

  • Personalized picture frames. Usually pretty cheap to begin with, these presumably donated gifts never seem to sell, since they’re always on the shelves. You know the ones. Dear Sister, Father, Best Friend, Cousin, Husband, Dog. Nothing captures 1000 words quite like this hideous hunk of plastic that denotes our relationship.

  • Fundraiser tee shirts.  You are a true philanthropist, sir. Your support through the secondhand purchase of that Erectile Dysfunction Run ‘97 shirt is really raising the community awareness.

  • Poorly executed Designer Knock-off Handbags. Unless you are shopping consignment and are well-versed on textiles, don’t tread the designer route. Chances are your Prado bag won’t be on any catwalks.

Wicker Resized
Doesn't this make you want to have a picnic?

  • Wicker. Tons of it. In every shape and size. Mostly baskets. But sometimes you’ll find the occasional wicker hats, chairs, wall decor, desk organizers and crafts.

    This cross-stitched gentlemen was a buck.
  • Framed “Art.” Sure, these pieces weren't exactly in a national gallery. But the topic is still debatable in the thrift community. Some leisurely thrifters argue the validity of these framed portraits of depressed clowns and disproportionate fruit bowls. And we at Let’s Go Thrifting agree. Afterall, some of these artistic abominations are so awful, they’re in fact…pretty awesome.

  • Hilariously Outdated Computer Software Manuals.  Think 1995. At the time, those free AOL disks were a hot commodity. So were the the thousands, literally thousands, of how-to books for the software of the time. Now…they’re at the thrift store in record numbers. And they are utterly useless.

  • Trivial Pursuit. You would think this was the most despised game in the history of family entertainment, given its prevalence at every single thrift store on the face on the planet. We like to think that they were played so often, the trivia became common knowledge at parties and were passed on for future playing elsewhere. Still…there’s a lot of them out there. We counted seven of them the last time we hit the Goodwill!

Afghan Resized
Does your granny know you donated that afghan?

  • Afghans. Who knew so many people could crochet…and with so many different color combinations?

  • The King James Bible. How are thrift stores like motel rooms? The Bibles. There’s at least a few in every thrift. Are people straight-up abandoning Christianity? Or is the thrifty version of spreading the “Good News?”

Herb Alpert Resized
Is that shaving cream?

  • Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. This dude seriously sold like a grabillion copies of this album and became some kind of overnight sensation. We kid you not. How else do you explain every thrift store having the Herb Alpert vinyl discography? 

Don't believe us? Make a check-sheet from the above top-ten list and have a thrift seek and find. You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Thrift Fail: What NOT to Donate

"Why did I donate that? WHY?"

It’s a known fact that there are many people in this world who can find use even for the most trivial of items. Crafters are leading this very lifestyle. Laughing in the face of the capitalist consumer machine that tells us to constantly discard and replace, these resourceful ladies and gents save and refurnish for future projects.

Then there are those who are simply keen to green living. Minding the permanence of their own carbon footprint, these Earth-friendly folk reuse and recycle common household goods for the purpose of reducing waste.

Well, we at the Let’s Go Thrifting blog salute you. But…when it comes to the thrift store, we might need to discuss when to draw the line between potential donations and pure dreck.

Firstly, let’s think positive. Donating unwanted items to a nonprofit thrift store benefits the community. Your unwanted goods become low-cost stock for people who may not be able to afford otherwise. Or, conversely, people who choose to look for bargains and bizarre finds. Those sales then treat the sick and provide shelter to the poor. So, kudos to you for cleaning out your closet and sending it to to your local Goodwill.

But when you are digging through last season’s trends and bagging them for donation, there are certain items that just shouldn’t be sent to the thrift, EVER.
    • Used underwear
    • Used jockstraps
    • Soiled or stinky clothes
    • Garbage
Though secondhand briefs and other assorted undergarments do occasionally make it the sales floor, it’s doubtful there’s a high demand for them from even the most frugal of thrift customers. So send your skivvies to the landfill.

But let’s not be too hasty. There are many a good fashion find in your local thrift store. So imagine the disappointment when you come across the perfectly retro polyester shirt only to find a pair of big ol’ sweat stains under the sleeves. And this does happen. Thrift store staff either don’t notice or don’t care for the apparel’s appearance. But shoppers do. And donors should too. So, please, don’t insult secondhand shoppers with something stained or smelly. Just let the garment go to the garbage bin. We promise we’ll forgive that minimal  and necessary waste.

And speaking of garbage: the staff of the Salvation Army shouldn’t have to wade through it when they’re expecting donations. I’ve seen it happen. And really, no one likes going elbow-deep in trash when they’re expecting to unearth a customer’s potential treasure. Separate your trash and donations in two different bags, and be sure to drop the right one at the curb and the right one in the donation bin.

With that being said, go ahead. Drop off your unwanted items at the thrift store. Even those hideously tacky holiday sweaters. Even that decade-old Tom Clancy novel. I guarantee that someone will want ‘em. So long as they’re not stinky, stained, or draped in a old pair of Fruit of the Loom.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

These Doll Heads Are How Much?

While grazing the aisles of my local Goodwill in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, I can’t help but wonder the many intricacies of thrift store pricing. That bejeweled Golden Girls style sweater is $4. So is that 1992 edition of Monopoly, regardless it is missing more than a few plastic houses and hotels. So who is deciding the monetary value of these goods? Is there a pricing guide somewhere that calculates the cost? Or is this completely arbitrary?
The world may never know the mysteries of the thrift store stockroom. We certainly know little of the previous owners, short of the occasional initials or gift inscriptions. One thing we do know…know damn well… is a good find. That perfect item that strikes the  balance between our personal value in how much we’re willing to spend and the actual cost. It may be different for everyone. A limited edition comic book, a vintage Barbie, the perfect floral print grandma sweater. We all have our ‘This is it’ moment now and then.
I’ve had several. And I intend to share those moments here on Let’s Go Thrifting. But I have much more to offer than my thrift store acquisitions. I have my wit. My wisdom. My unique insight into the socioeconomic benefits and leisurely pursuits of secondhand shopping.
Also, doll heads.
Doll heads resized
I have photos of doll heads. Doll heads affordably priced at 97 cents, albeit. But doll heads. Arranged neatly in rows, no less. And this is a sight that begs several questions:
  • Who donated these and why?
  • Who is buying them?
  • For what purpose?
But this isn’t the end of my disembodied plastic encounter. Interestingly enough, two weeks later, at another Goodwill some 30 miles west of the prior thrift store, I stumbled upon these.
Doll Head 3 Dollars resized
More doll heads! Okay…so… discuss:
  • Is there some kind of donate-a-doll-head-pledge-drive that I didn’t hear about?
  • What exactly is the demand for thrifted doll heads?
  • And just how are these doll heads arbitrarily priced from $1.90 and $3.00, compared to the 97 cents from a neighboring Goodwill?
Ah, thrift stores. You house so many, many weird and wonderful artifacts. Your dutiful employees are so adept at pricing seemingly useless items that someone, somewhere will surely buy. Myself included.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Today's Episode is Brought to You by the Letter B

B is for Bargain.
Scantily clad Cabbage Patch dolls and teddy bears from Valentine's past prove no match to a plush member of the elite alphabet clan. Rescued from a Goodwill in Bensalem, PA for 90 cents, Bixil makes an excellent addition to any cuddly, kinda creepy, semi-educational stuffed collection.