I‘LL ADMIT up front that this particular Overpriced Goodwill Item of the Week might be a stretch. I can’t definitively say that these are priced too high because I was just a boy when Mother would send me to the store to buy them for her; this was of course years ago – I don’t remember how much they were going for then and I can’t imagine they’d cost the same today.
Asking Donna, my wife, is equally useless because she buys hers by the bale from a livestock husbandry supplier. (Then once a month she, the kids and I have a sort of Family Home Evening where we sit around the living room, and with templates I fashioned using leftover linoleum from our kitchen remodel, trim them down to the right size while discussing current events. The surplus I save for eBay packing.)
So I could be wrong on this, I don’t know.
I’ll leave it up to my, what?, six readers: Is $3.99 a fair price for a package of 22 regular absorbency pads that were donated to a thrift store?
Things to consider:
• The per-pad cost ends up being just over 18¢.
• They have that patented Instabsorb Layer™ for quick absorption.
• These pads feature Omni-Odor Guard™ – handy!
• Though each weathered package is dingy, scuffed and faded, and was sharing space on a shelf with a handful of pointy tent stakes, I didn’t see any tears so you probably won’t be bringing home bedbugs. (And take my word on this one: you don’t want bedbugs “up in there.”)
Hell, if it turns out this is a good price, I might swing back there and pick up a package or two. It’s Donna’s birthday next week.
ABOUT A DECADE AGO, I started noticing a disturbing trend around the holidays. You’re smart; you probably did too.
Numerous retailers – I’ve seen this everywhere from Target to J.C. Pennys, Kohls to Walmart, and then eventually closeout places like Ross and Big Lots – began offering a particular type of item which apparently carried the caché of class and sophistication yet was mass-marketed in stores’ last-minute holiday gift sections alongside shelves of shrink-wrapped samplers of cheese, sausage and jam, the perennial Chia Pets and strange, oversized Scrabble- and Oreo-themed ceramic mugs with packets of gourmet hot chocolate and/or sundae “fixin’s.” Whew! That was one torturously long sentence but it had to be said!
Of course what I’m referring to are those decorative bottles of olive oil and/or vinegar packed with artfully arranged peas, lemon slices, beans, onions and of course peppers – whole or sliced.
Curiously, the gift-buying public embraced these things. Each year, at Christmas, more and more recipients added them to their kitchen counters. Oh, perhaps you didn’t have a high-end granite or marble counter top, maybe you were living in some crappy one-bedroom apartment in Mar Vista with a chipped and scratched Formica counter, but put one of these babies next to your George Foreman Grill and suddenly you’re a gourmet chef and your kitchen belongs in “Martha Stewart Living.”
After half a dozen years of wiping the dust off these vessels that were supposed to be decorative as well as consumable, their owners started realizing that they’re never actually going to use something that’s sat out on their counter for so long and is starting to show its age – the ring of peperoncini strips just starting to disintegrate adding to that layer of sediment and mystery twigs, leaves and other flotsam at the bottom.
Thus began the steady exodus of these glass jugs from folks’ homes which continues to this day. Since these full bottles were still arguably decorative, since the layered vegetables are still mostly intact, because the classy red wax seal at the top has never been broken and the contents are completely unused and since it had been received as a gift, few have felt comfortable doing what they should be doing: throwing them the hell out. In the trash!
And so they started appearing on the shelves of our nations’ thrift stores. Disturbing? Oh, my, yes.
Even more disturbing, more frightening is the realization that when thrift stores receive these as donations, they don’t refuse them or throw them out, either! The thrifts put them on the shelves despite the fact that they wouldn’t (or in some cases couldn’t legally) offer other donated food items.
There these things sit, and each month, more and more and more appear…and nobody buys them. Not only are they up to a decade (or more) old, in addition to their contents beginning a slow deterioration towards cloudy amorphousness like a jar of unopened pork tidbits recovered from the wreck of the Andrea Doria, on top of all that, most of these bottles of vinegar and olive oil are products of China!
If that’s not enough of a reason to throw them out, nothing is! I don’t know about you, but since that whole baby formula debacle in China a few years ago, I haven’t exactly felt all that comfortable feeding my baby China-grown olives and jalapeños suspended in garlic-infused vinegar. Attention Child Protective Services: Don’t worry, only nourishing American-made vinegar goes in our little Blythe’s Evenflo.
So while this does of course function as one of our delightfully informative “Overpriced Goodwill Item of the Week” posts…
…Goodwill is not alone in their poor judgment here. Like you, I’m finding these in every thrift store I go to.
See, these glass receptacles of flavored cooking fluids aren’t likely to be purchased on the secondary market by anyone – not even by the irritating Etsy and Retro-vation set. You can’t “repurpose” bottles of rancid olive oil into something jackasses in thick-framed nerd glasses and Betty Page bangs will embrace. These aren’t old vinyl LPs, brother!
Plus there’s no reason to stockpile this crap for thirty years in the hope that hipsters of the future will pay high prices for them to create a vintage 2010s kitchen in 2050 – these low-grade vegetables marinated in what amounts to Chinese formaldehyde will be nothing but discolored mush by then. Mush I tell you!
That’s why I’ve taken it upon myself to declare this week National Thrift Store Throw These Things The Hell Out Week.
And so I’m trusting that all my, what?, six regulars will help make this a reality, even if you personally have to go into every Goodwill, every Salvation Army, every little-old-lady-run church thrift store within a few hundred miles of your house, and heave these demon bottles off the shelves and down onto the floor yourself, in a coast-to-coast explosion of broken glass, capers, garlic cloves and extra-slippery Grade 有unrefined olive oil! Also, my attorney has immediately cautioned me to tell you to not under any circumstances do what I just wrote!
So I guess I’m left to appeal directly to the people taking donations at these secondhand stores: For the love of God, good cooking, uncluttered counter tops and non-tacky kitchen décor, please, thrift stores of America – throw these things the hell out as they come in! And throw out the ones your store already has now!
And while you’re at it, throw out these absurd amalgams of popcorn, rice and dried beans…
…and the bath oils…
…all the bath oils!
And get rid of the artisan spice blends in economy quantities…
…and the bottled sugar, cinnamon and syrups…
…Away with the dried pasta…
…and for the love of Christ, whatever unholy thing this is…? Burn it!
Get rid of it all!
Well, I think I’ve done my part here for thrift store shoppers and employees alike. And what better way to reward myself for a job well done than by finally cracking open that old store stock jar of Koogle I scored on eBay a few weeks ago and treating myself to a true epicurean delight – a taste sensation I last enjoyed before Kraft discontinued making it back when I was in kindergarten. Like you, I’ve been dreaming about it ever since.
And between you and me, I’m not even going to bother with bread. A rare treat like this should be enjoyed straight from the jar by spoon or finger so that no other conflicting tastes might taint its delicate flavor.
As regular readers of this blog know, I’m always on the lookout for a good, traditional pickle.
You know the kind – good and dilly and garlicky. Tangy – and not without some snap! The kind you’d expect to find on the plate next to your corned beef sandwich at your favorite Jewish delicatessen (in my case Feldman’s On Reseda).
So imagine my surprise when I was at my local 99¢ Only Store some weeks ago and I came across these babies:
Hm, thought I, aloud, worrying the other shoppers, Hm, these so-called “Nature’s Turn All Natural Pickle Spears” are all natural, and they’re from a brand I can trust – Nature’s Turn – not a brand I’ve ever heard of before, but it sounds like a brand I can trust, right? I mean, just that name alone and the slightly awkward logo – a sprouting lima bean (?) – seems trustworthy. And there’s chunks of garlic and seeds and stuff that looks like dill weed at the bottom of the jar – just like you see in those expensive brands in your grocer’s refrigerated deli case.
So I decided sure, I’m game, I’ll gamble 99¢ only on a jar of pickles – why not? What could possibly go wrong?
“Feldman’s On Reseda”…?
I got them home, open them up, fish around in the jar with two fingers (knowing me, probably without washing my hands!) and pull out a pickle spear – and I proceeded to eat it. And then I dove right in with my filthy digits and pulled out another – and I ate that one, too. And another! And another after that! And my father’s father before him! What?!
The point is, these things are great! They’ve all the dillness, all the garlicosity of your higher-priced refrigerated, deli-case and/or Feldman’s On Reseda pickles – without the higher-priced part! Or the refrigerated part! And as the label says there’s no corn syrup in these pickles! As regular readers of this blog know, I’m always on the lookout for a corn syrup-free pickle! …”Feldman’s?”
Right then and there – right then and there, brother, I decided I would declare Nature’s Turn All Natural Pickle Spears this week’s
Ah, but then! Then I read on the back of the label: PRODUCT OF CHINA.
Oh no. Oh no no no no no. I’m so sorry – but despite how delicious they are, I can’t in good conscience endorse these pickles as this week’s What’s Bueno at the 99¢ Only Store item. There’s just no way.
They are however this week’s 什麼是良好的只有99美分商店 item.
So, yes, as I alluded to the other day, Monday did find me back at my local 99¢ Only Store!
And I was right! My precious Snickers Peanut Butter Eggs were marked down!
So I did what you’d have done. I bought eighty.
(Look, I didn’t want to go crazy because there’s a very real possibility they may be marked down even further in the days, weeks and months ahead. That’s when I’ll stock up.)
Ever since I got whacked in the head with a bright green vinyl-covered putter by some obnoxious six-year-old in the unruly golfing party (“mob” was more like it) behind us some years ago at Putt-Putt Palace down in Redondo (Long gone! Closed down after the settlement!) I’ve had this admittedly unusual preoccupation with anachronistic package design.
You see, when I happen upon a package of something that looks particularly old, I say to myself, “My, but that package looks rather anachronistic; that is to say, it exists here in the present yet is representative of a previous time – and I find this delightful.”
Recently I was in my local ethniceteria, that is to say, a place that sells foods that exist here in this country yet are representative of other cultures – a sort of exotic food “bazaar” if you will – and I found this:
Above: Jason Bread Crumbs! Also available in blue!
And as you would be – hell, as you are now, just looking at it here on my site – I was positively enchanted by this package design. I know you’ll agree that it looks like something we’d find if we had a chance to root around Saul Bass’s kitchen cupboards in the late 1970s.
Unfortunately, I was not the grand prize winner in the 1978 Lawry’s Seasoned Salt “Root Around Saul Bass’s Kitchen Cupboards” Sweepstakes so we’ll never know exactly what was in there. (And lucky winner Della Frankinhoff passed away in 1998 before I got a chance to interview her.)
I did get a third place t-shirt though. My hyperhidrosis (chronic sweating) coupled with my chromhidrosis (colored sweat, in my case, yellow-green due to a neonatal addiction to pistachio instant pudding) rendered it unwearable in a matter of weeks. But thank God for old family snapshots, right?!
On an unrelated note, I really need to hire some sort of online marketing guru to figure out why no one seems to visit this site more than once.
WELL, I’m not Jewish, despite what you might have seen in the showers at the gym. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a good macaroo—
Oh, Christ, I’m talking about the Hal Linden shower cap I wear! Obviously! I can’t believe you’d think that I was referring to– …What a bunch of perverts you people are!
Anyway, like you, I enjoy I a good macaroon every now and again and so it being the Jewish Holy Week of Yomover, I think, there’s all kinds of good Jewish things to eat at your local grocery store – björksch, graffilti fish, pickled pigs feet, and, of course, macaroons! Oh, and great big bottles of Matzo-Bismol in case you get a schmertz in the mogn from eating all that good food during the cedar!
But you’d have been a shlemiel to to buy these things at your regular grocer, or from those crooks at Walgreens…
Three-ninety-nine they want to charge you for these things?! Walgreens with your so-called “Hot Buys,” you should be ashamed! P’tooey!
No, you want to get your macaroons at, where else?, the 99¢ Only Store!
Because at the 99¢ Only Store, they’ve got macaroons for 99¢ Only. I bought like eight cannisters! Or, as they say in Yiddish, cannischewitzters!
Sure, they’ll sit in your stomach like a rock if you eat them one after another like a chazzer, so save some for later. The 99¢ Only Store has just about every flavor and type available. Two varieties were even gluten-free, so I snatched them up quick – to prevent those who’ve bought into that whole allergic-to-gluten nonsense from being able to buy them.
Most of the available macaroons, or ‘roons as we roonaphiles casually know them, are from the good people of Gefen Foods. I’m a traditionalist, so the Fancy Coconut Flavored Macaroons, or “regular,” were my favorite. Gefen’s Toffee Time Macaroon Classics were a delight as well, but seemed to lack any real toffee flavor that I could distinguish. Gefen’s Nutty Brownie Macaroon Classics were particularly wonderful, while their Fancy Honey-Nut Flavored Macaroons may or may not be just as good or better, but I haven’t opened that cannister yet. Stay tuned!
The other macaroonufacturer selling their wares at the 99¢ Only store is Glicks Foods. Their Glicks Finest Choc-Chip Macaroons are nice, but seemed a little stingy with actual chocolate chips. I don’t think it’s too much to expect at least one chip in each ‘roon, but sadly, that was not the case in my cannister. Would it have killed them to sprinkle a few extra chips in there? Oy!
So there you have it – this Kippover buy your macaroons at the 99¢ Only Store and save, why not? Or is Mr. Big Shot with the fancy car and the nice clothes too good for the dollar store all of a sudden?
LET’S cut to the chase here, folks! It’s late! Neither of us has time for any dilly-dallying today!
Snickers Peanut Butter Eggs are what’s bueno at the 99¢ Only Store this week!
Yes, they’re Easter-themed, but you don’t have to be a good, God-fearing Christian like me to enjoy a Snickers Peanut Butter egg. The delight your tastebuds will experience is purely non-non-secular, so even if your unfortunate choice of religion has doomed you to an eternity of damnation in the fiery pits of hell, you can enjoy a Snickers Peanut Butter Egg now, here on earth. In fact, you’d probably better enjoy them now – that chocolate doesn’t do to well in environments over about 82 degrees.
Like the rest of my, what?, six regulars, you come to this website for the nudity. You’ve waited long enough. Here you go:
Oh my God, it looks good enough to eat – which is just what I did: I ate it right up! Just as quick as you please!
Our panel nominated Snickers Peanut Butter Egg as this week’s What’s Bueno At The 99¢ Only Store item based on two specific, whaddayacall, criteriums:
1.) Taste: They taste really good!
2.) Price: The 99¢ Only Store is selling them for three for 99¢! You can’t beat that price, I guarantee it! Those crooks at Walgreens, for instance, demand an astronomical 59¢ for just one of these! And my attorney would like me to note, by the way, that Walgreens does not employ crooks! Good people there at Walgreens!
Anyway, if you really want to make an impression on a loved one, or a loved blogger (hint hint!), pass on the jelly beans, forget those disgusting Peeps – just fill up an Easter basket with thirty of these babies!
You can’t go wrong and you’re out less than lousy ten bucks because, to reiterate, Snickers Peanut Butter Eggs are flying out the door at the 99¢ Only Store for three for 99¢!
And that’s the before-Easter price!
So can you imagine what they’ll be letting these things go for once Easter is over?!
Oh, you bet I’ll be camping out in front of the store Sunday night to be first in line Monday morning and scoop up all the leftovers at post-Easter further ridiculously discounted prices!
I just hope that unlike that famous mishap with Jesus’ tomb, the Snickers Peanut Butter Eggs boxes are not empty.
But you already blew $10 at Target for the sacrilegious and ridiculous – or as I say, sacridiculous – plush Yoda basket; you’re going to want to save some money on the grass to put inside it! But where to go? Sure, you can continue with the theme and get swamp grass for free on Dagobah but who wants to drive that far?
Solution: Goodwill! Or as Yoda would say, Willgood! Mm!
Why, here’s a bag of Easter grass that I found at my local Goodwill thrift store and it’s just what you’ve been looking for! And you know you’re saving money buying it at Goodwill! Right? …Right?!
::cough cough:: Um…close-up please.
Holy Christ! And I do mean that, here, in an Easter-themed blog entry more than ever! A buck ninety-nine?! For a dingy old bag of Easter grass that someone donated?!
Look, I hate having to be the one who points this stuff out. It pains me, really. You know me, I love Goodwill. So it just kills me to have to point this stuff out.
Anyway! The other close-up now, Professor, if you would:
Hoo boy. As you can plainly see, this Easter grass originally retailed for 33¢. Thirty-three cents. But Goodwill, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to charge us SIX TIMES that amount. Hell, for that price, you better be able to smoke it.
By the way, my attorney cautions me to remind you to please not smoke plastic Easter grass.
However, the good thing about the particular Goodwill where I found this is that it just happens to be directly next door to one of my other favorite retailers – yes! – the 99¢ Only Store.
Just hop your way down the seasonal aisle and what do you find?
Friend, I suggest you buy your Easter grass here.
But don’t feel bad that Goodwill isn’t getting your business on this one! Because right now, at the beginning of April, they’re your one-stop shop for everything you need for that other upcoming Christian holiday!
Only 266 days shopping days left, folks!