LIKE AN IDIOT, I haven’t done one of these in a while – despite the fact that each night when I obsessively log into Google Analytics to see just what every single one of you, what, six regulars who visit this blog look at when you’re here, it tells me that the Goodwill posts get the most hits.
So while it’s possible you people enjoy my Goodwill posts…it’s more likely that this traffic is from Goodwill’s attorneys who are slowly and methodically building an enormous lawsuit against me.
Anyway, while we all wait for that, here’s something fun!
There’s a Goodwill thrift store near me and apparently they get a lot of merchandise from Target that’s either been discontinued, marked for clearance, or returned.
I’ve gotten a few reasonable deals among this stuff, but unfortunately, in a lot of cases, these items are still priced too high for my meager pocketbook.
But this one – oh, this one’s a delight:
What you’re seeing there are geodes, each impaled on a rod jutting up from a base.
Except they’re fake geodes, made out of (I’m guessing) resin. Or maybe plaster. And the part where the rock is split open, so you can see its wondrous insides…?
It’s a photograph.
The photo is printed on very thin material and attached to the flat surface with some sort of adhesive…and each one of these identical fake geodes’ photo surface is dinged and scratched, revealing the white resin (or plaster) beneath.
Now for some reason – either because they’d become damaged or because they were the most ridiculous thing anyone’s ever seen at Target next to little tiny sleeping bags – for some reason, brother, they weren’t exactly flying off the shelves.
Solution? Lower the price! In a bold and brilliant move, Target then attached big red “clearance” stickers right on the delicate photo surface.
Surprise! Still no takers.
After that they were bundled up together with packing tape (presumably to keep them from banging against one another in transit and thus minimize any further damage…!) and sent to Goodwill…
…where someone attempted to pull off the clearance stickers (and with it, more of the geode photo), and seeing what they had wrought in doing so, wisely left most of the packing tape intact so as not to damage them any further.
And then this exact same person, I reckon, this exact same person, wielding a price gun, slapped a Goodwill price sticker right there on the front amid the packing tape and below the other sticker that they were unsuccessful in removing!
For $4.99 yet!
So in short, what have we learned? Well, mainly, Target has probably joined Goodwill as a co-plaintiff in that presumed action against me as a result of this post.
Hey, I don’t care! I’m like Erin Brocklewitz here! I will not be silenced!
By reading this, you’re all witnesses for the defense now. My attorney will be along presently to take down your deposition.
FOR YEARS NOW, you and I have been frustrated and annoyed by this:
The abhorrent practice thrift stores have adopted of tossing a preposterous hodgepodge of various small toys into bags, stapling said bags shut, and pricing each monstrous mishmash outrageously. And then if all you want is, say, the Sandworm/Beetlejuice-as-Snake-Charmer toy from the 1990 Burger King Kids Club meal to finally complete your set, you have to wander around the store endlessly with the bag and then, when no one’s looking, lean into a rack of clothes with it, tear the damn thing open, make sure you grab the right one and let the rest of the contents fall to the floor – and then you’ve got to sneak it into your pocket without Socorro (who’s always eyeing you suspiciously over her half-glasses from the front register like you’re some kind of thief) seeing what you’re doing.
Or if you’re a real jackass, you actually pay the $4.99 for the whole bag. And then what are you going to do with a dog-slobbered tennis ball, a half-pound of loose Legos with either food or human waste caked into the bottoms of a third of them, five small generic My Little Pony knockoffs, a couple of chewed-on Nerf darts, thirteen checkers (from two different sets yet), three absurd, unswallowable Fisher-Price Little People, a few soap-scum encrusted bath toys (with filthy bathwater still sloshing around in them), a bent View-Master reel, a bald Barbie head, five miniature Troll dolls with matted, knotted hair, a Yoda Pez dispenser, Woody’s cowboy hat, a ratty, nicotine-stained Beanie Baby cat (that somehow escaped the fate of being sent to the glass case up front and priced $19.95), a handful of plastic dinosaurs and whatever this worthless thing is?
Thrift stores have been bagging up little toys for years, so we’re used to it by now. And really, despite our complaining – yours and mine – despite our complaining, who can really blame them? Sure, it would make sense in a perfect world to just dump all these little toys in a big bin, allow us root around and charge us a quarter a piece for whichever ones we want, but we don’t live in a perfect world.
Because besides you and me, who shops at thrift stores? That’s right – poor people. And what do poor people all seem to have too many of? Right again – poor children. And poor children are notoriously sticky-fingered when it comes to toys. They’d think nothing of taking these toys – playing with them, openly, right there in the store!, and then taking them home with them – without paying for them! Oh, and don’t give me any nonsense about the innocence of babes – the youngest ones are the most crooked of all! Plus you just know they can’t possibly appreciate a 2001 Diva Starz “Talk-Diva” McDonald’s Happy Meal toy on the same level as would, say, a middle-aged man who collects such things. (I don’t, but I know my, what, six readers!)
My point is, just as we’ve all made peace with the stupid custom of thrift stores amassing a couple dozen little toys and selling them in bulk, they figure since they’ve got us trained there, they’ll try to get us to accept it in other areas of our lives, or, rather, in their stores. To wit:
No, your eyes do not deceive you! At my local Salvation Army, they’re now gathering dissimilar coffee mugs, lashing them together with cheap packing tape, and trying to get us to buy them in lots!
Does that above grouping make any sense to anyone, anywhere? A yellow mug that reads “Fat Daddy,” a blue mug with two godawful 3-D owls on that would disgust even those idiot owl collectors, and an Area 51 pencil cup that’s not even a mug?!
And then they have the nerve to charge us $2.95 for all three, and if there’s someone who would specifically want all three of these things – and I doubt there is, but if there is – I don’t want to meet him!
Now look at this grouping!
Renoir’s Dance at Bougival and…
Dr. Teddy Bear!
Or these two:
Awful minimalist cartoon drawings of food by someone who has no artistic talent whatsoever but still evidently carved art a career as a graphic artist…and the Union Jack!
What’s next – Different articles of clothing all tied together in a Chickahominy knot, and if we want any of them, we have to buy the whole wad? I sincerely hope not.
The day Salvation Army makes me buy eight random pairs of boxers, boxer briefs, briefs, and bikinis when all I want is that one 2Xist Sculpted Lifting MaXimizer thong is the day that the lost & found box in the men’s locker room at the gym starts getting all my used underwear business again.
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.
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!
LIKE YOU, I’m an enormous fan of Roy Doty – an unabashed “Dotyphile,” as we call ourselves. As you know, I was one of the organizers of the first DotyCon way back in 1978 – and of course I’ve been an integral part of each one since. (Mark your calendars for this year’s event – July 12-15 – Hilliard, Ohio – Super 8 Motel, Room 216).
I also helped design the award we (hope to) give out each year (“The Roy”) at the Con and I’ve been on hand annually to present it should Mr. Doty ever attend and accept it. (This could be the year!) Legendary is my annual slideshow – with my humorous asides – of Roy Doty Christmas cards that I’ve found doing Google image searches, and, brother, if I’m not dressed up for the Roy Doty cosplay parade and mixer (Saturday night), then it means I’m one of the judges.
So you can imagine how stunned, how outraged I was the other day when, perusing the wares of my local National Council of Jewish Women Thrift Store, I come across this:
Oops! Wrong side.
Nope, not quite.
There we go!
It’s bad enough the people behind this vintage, mint-in-box, 1960s Do-Ray Super Compression Electric Rotary Compressor Air Inflater & Exhauster unauthorizingly used a drawing of Mr. Doty’s (from God knows where; no one person can be an expert on the man’s enormous body of work) but to place it alongside the chicken scratchings of an inferior artist is the height of disrespect!
Can we go in for a closeup?
I mean, that’s totally Roy Doty artwork, isn’t it? It’s not just me, is it? The woman looks especially Dotyesque. Right?
Anyway, if I was Roy, I’d sue Do-Ray right out of business – if they weren’t already out of business, that is. Instead, you’ll agree that what he should do is bid on my eBay auction for this exceedingly rare and valuable piece of Dotybilia! (It’s also great for inflating blow-up furnitures!) You should bid on it too! Be part of cartoonist history! Let’s show Roy how much we care and get a real bidding war going! I got a two-month gas bill to pay here.
Sure, I sell one or two (allegedly) pirated movies on DVD at the Rose Bowl Swap Meet the one Sunday some asshole from the legal department of some pissant production company that specializes in TV movies for Lifetime happens to be there with his ugly girlfriend who he tries to impress by calling the police on me…and $160,000 and ninety days in Men’s Central later – after Paramount and Warner Bros. and Universal and RKO and Disney all band together and decide to make an example of me – what do I find at my local Council thrift store but a plastic storage tote FULL of these things, for a buck a piece!
I was charging five! At least I wasn’t undervaluing these films!
So that’s how you spell her name! On my DVD covers, I had “Glen.”
Anyway, the fact that the studios have no problem whatsoever with the National Council of Jewish Women thrift stores selling these movies go to prove what we’ve known all along, folks. Oh, we all know it, sure – we’re just not supposed to say it.
Thrift stores run this goddamn town.
Marion, don’t look at it!
Shut your eyes, Marion!
Don’t look at it!
No matter what happens!
…You looked at it.
But if there’s any justice in this world – or the next – it’ll be Goodwill that’s held accountable for this sacrilege!
THESE fairly large and heavy plaster offerings were reasonably priced at my local Salvation Army store for $1.95 (“Sit On It”) and $2.95 (“We Aim To Please…”).
They reminded me of a little metal sign we got as a gag gift at a pool-warming party we had one summer when I was a kid. It read “We Don’t Swim In Your Toilet, Please Don’t Pee In Our Pool” in a tall, old-fashioned typeface. The sign was vertically formatted, small, only about 3″ wide by 6″ tall, and had holes in each of its four corners so that it could be screwed into place.
We never put it on the pool. The sign remained in our junk drawer for as long as I can remember.
Thank God. Thank God, because attaching it probably would have ruined the brand new showpiece of our backyard and indeed, the pride of the neighborhood – – truly a catastrophe, especially given that Dad spent nearly an hour inflating it and then filling it with the hose.
IS protecting your car against theft worth $7.99 to you?
Of course it is, and Goodwill’s got just the thing to keep your car safe and secure!
It’s an old model of The Club – or possibly a knockoff by another company. Hard to tell. Seems thinner than the version available today, and it doesn’t have “THE CLUB” in big block lettering on its side so who can say for sure? But it’s good and strong and will deter all but the most determined car thieves!
…That is, it would, if you could actually unlock it and put it on your steering wheel. And then lock it. And then unlock it again, when you wanted to drive your car.
But you can’t do any of that because Goodwill, in its infinite wisdom, is offering said Club – yes, you guessed it! – with no key!
“Come on now, Ted,” I hear you saying, “Let’s be fair! How much could a key, just a simple key, cost?!”
I’m glad you asked. If this is an actual Club, they do make replacements! And for only three dollars plus postage!
…Provided that you have at least one original key left, which you obviously don’t! You, friend, are outta luck!
So instead of blowing nearly eight bucks on a completely useless, unlockable and un-unlockable Club, why not just spend a few extra bucks for a real anti-theft system?
Just two shelves up and to the left, you’ll find these. Arrange them on your dashboard, brother, and I guarantee no one’ll go near your car!