Things from Thing Stores

Eclectic accumulation via thrift store shopping

Goodwill Ditches Discounts and Revamps Pricing

Goodwill thrift stores have eliminated discounts and changed pricing on item categories throughout their stores, according to local store employees.

For years, Thursday has been Senior Day, when customers 55 and older could get a 20% discount, with no minimum purchase requirement. Not only has the Senior Discount been eliminated, an employee told me today that “all of our discounts have been discontinued.”

The price tags on the individual items used to be colored, and each week a different color tag would be discounted by 50%, but no more. Those colored signs on the doors and throughout the stores indicating whether the pink, green, red, or blue tag was the half-price color are gone. (The Sonoma County GoLocal discount will continue through the end of the year, however, with 20% off purchases of $20 or more, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays only).

Goodwill pants

In three different Sonoma County Goodwill thrift stores today, I discovered this reorganization underway, which the beleaguered employees indicated was initiated at the corporate level. Lest we think this is merely a regional change, two days ago I was in a Goodwill in Diamond Head, Mississippi, and employees there told me they had eliminated the colored tag discounts.

The pricing has also been overhauled, some for better, some for worse.  All the clothing is now priced by category rather than individually, unless the item is considered a “special find,” with a special, higher price. (Let’s overlook that items are donated rather than found, shall we?) Dresses took the biggest hit, going from $5.99-$8.99 for most dresses, to a flat $10 each. In fact, it seemed to me that women’s clothing has been specially targeted for price hikes.

Goodwill dresses

Which reminds me, they’re rounding off the pricing now, so tags that would have been $3.99 before are now $4.00.

I had a white polka-dotted bow tie in my basket, and the clerk told me sadly that “all ties are $4 now.” I still wanted it; the drop in book prices more than made up for it. Hardcovers used to be priced individually, most from $1.99-$3.99, but hardcover books are all $2 now, and paperbacks are $1.

This is a window of opportunity for the serious thrifter, though. The stores are in some disarray during this change, so ignore the overpriced categories and take advantage of immediate deals in categories that are currently underpriced. For example, I bought a black Ugly Doll for $2, and an interesting, custom framed picture for $4.

There was also a plastic gallon bag of Monarch silverplate utensils, perhaps 50 pieces, but the bag itself was unpriced. At the front counter, they had to call the manager (who happened to be in the loo at the time). The bag of silverware they thought would go for $10 was finally priced at $15, so I asked if I could pick out just the pieces I wanted. They agreed, and I bought the 8 dinner forks, the 8 gumbo spoons, and a serving spoon at the standard 25¢ apiece that they would ask for loose silverware, for a grand total of $4.25.

Let this be a reminder to appreciate our local store employees. Do not be the customer who makes life miserable for the line employee, while the decision-makers and highly paid executives never face their customers.

Our local Goodwill workers are still the friendly people they’ve always been, and they deserve a break.

Sample new pricing:

Belts, Gloves, Hats, Scarves, Ties, Wallets $4

Books – hardcover $2, paperback $1

Computer Monitors $5

Curtains & Draperies $3

DVD players $10

Handbags & Backpacks $7

Keyboards $3

Luggage $7

Mics & Cords $2

Napkins & Placemats $1

Pants $6

Phones $5

Robes, Swimming Suits, Sleepwear, Undergarments $3

Shorts & Skirts $6

Tablecloths $3

Televisions (flat screen) $10

Televisions (tube) $5

Tops $7

T-shirts $3

VCR players $5

Vests $6



2018 Dates for the 40/8 Flea Market in Santa Rosa

Suitcase of Books

How to register: Don’t ask me! I’m just a loyal shopper myself and am not associated with the flea market.

To contact the 40/8 veterans yourself: 

  1. Email the veterans at, or
  2. Phone (707) 522-9391 and leave a message for them. (Speak slowly and clearly, and spell your info, because, as they say, they’re “old, slow, and hard of hearing.”)

Show your support for nurses by shopping at the original 40/8 Veterans Flea Market! The proceeds from these five huge summer flea markets provide scholarships for students in the Santa Rosa Junior College Nursing Program.

2018 dates (as of 1/16/18). Call them to confirm if coming from afar, because, ya know, things can change. And don’t blame me; I’m just the messenger!

  • May 6
  • June 10
  • July 8
  • August 19
  • September 9
Time: 7 am – 3 pm 
Location:  Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building, 1351 Maple Ave.,Santa Rosa, Santa Rosa, California,

(P.S. The smaller MojoSales Flea Markets occur most other Sundays throughout the year, also at the Veterans Building. Their contact email is MOJOSALES@HOTMAIL.COM .) 

Toilet Bowl Piggy Bank

Yesterday I thrifted a vintage toy “toilet” piggy bank for $2.99. It’s not very sturdy, and, sadly, it wasn’t working, though it had a compartment for batteries. Tomorrow my husband and I are going to the Occidental Fools Parade in Occidental (for reals), California, and I thought this would make a great prop, whether it worked or not.

My dear husband, who has been watching Big Clive videos online, took it apart tonight and after some labors, got it working again. Thanks, honey! All his hours watching Big Clive take apart cheap electrical items from “Poundland” (the UK version of our Dollar Store) have paid off big time for the Foolish Prop Department!

Now, when you (very gently) pull the chain of this delightful toy, it once again makes a screeching flushing sound, rather like a rabid weasel loose in the house, and the blue “bowl water” slides back so a coin can drop into the base.

I can’t say with any certainty, but the J.S.N.Y. stamp on the base appears to refer to Jeffrey Snyder New York, a subsidiary of Etna Products Co., Inc. The only other one of these I found (after a cursory online search) sold on eBay in 2012 for $20.

A collector on Pinterest also has a board of piggy banks that includes this one. Mine works again, thanks to my handyman with his screwdriver and paraffin!

Toilet piggy bank

German & Swedish Postcards

Thrifted two cards a few days ago, 10¢ each. If you didn’t know what Facebook was “for,” it’s so you can get translations from foreign languages (that, or to ask someone to lend you the book for your book club).


In this German postcard, circa 1937, Karl writes to Fräulein Bowman that he had a wonderful night at the theater, and they went out afterwards. They drank beer, which was, of course, just for health and enjoyment, and “to your health!” Wolfman adds his greetings at the end.


Then there’s this photo of a woman, with a message on the back: swedish-postcard-photo-front


I thought this one was also in German, but a friend identified it: “This is in Swedish. The photo was taken on the woman’s 50th birthday and the flowers were received by her as gifts.”

The more things change, the more they stay the same. In days gone by, people sent postcards; nowadays, we post selfies. In the future, our selfies will also be “vintage.” We have so much in common with those of the past and future, don’t we? Beer and birthdays, flowers and photos and kindly sentiments …

Feel free to comment — especially any of you intrepid visitors  with mad linguistic skills.

Deep appreciation to  Gerrit-Willem Oberman, Joan Krebs-Schmid, and Stefan Jonasson — scholars and world citizens!

40/8 Flea Market dates for 2017 – Santa Rosa Veterans Building

Show your support for nurses by shopping at the original 40/8 Veterans Flea Market! The proceeds from these five huge summer flea markets help the 40/8 Veterans Association fund scholarships for students in the Santa Rosa Junior College Nursing Program.

Vendor Information:

I am just a shopper and can’t register you sell there. You will need to contact the 40/8 organization yourself. To rent spaces, email the veterans at, or leave your contact information on their answering machine at (707) 522-9391. Speak slowly and clearly, and spell your info, because, as they say, they’re “old, slow, and hard of hearing.”

2017 Dates:

  • May 7
  • June 11
  • July 9
  • August 20 (revised date to accommodate the new Sonoma County Fair dates)
  • September 10

Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building, 1351 Maple Ave.,Santa Rosa, Santa Rosa, California

(P.S. The smaller MojoSales Flea Markets occur most other Sundays throughout the year, also at the Veterans Building. Their contact email is MOJOSALES@HOTMAIL.COM.) 

Mojo Flea Market: Rain or Shine

indoor-flea-market-today-signThe Mojo Flea Market, held in the parking lot of the Santa Rosa Vets Hall every Sunday, moves inside the Vets Hall if it rains. Who knew? You can find me at this flea market almost every Sunday morning. While the official start time is 8 am, you can start browsing earlier, though vendors will be continuing to set up for some time, so it’s worth making a second pass.

40/8 Veterans Flea Markets: 2016 Dates

Potential VENDORS, please READ:

I am not affiliated with this flea market, so I can’t answer questions about it here on the blog. To rent a space, email the veterans at, or leave your contact information on their answering machine at (707) 522-9391. Speak slowly and clearly, and spell your info, because, as they say, they’re “old, slow, and hard of hearing.” (But they still have their senses of humor, obviously!)

Coming May through September, my favorite flea markets of the year!

One Sunday a month throughout the summer, local veterans hold a huge flea market in the parking lot of the Santa Rosa Veterans Building. Why do these elderly veterans and their spouses put in so much work? Because this flea market funds several substantial scholarships for nursing students at Santa Rosa Junior College — and veterans appreciate nurses.

These are huge flea markets with locals and many out-of-town vendors. Support the nursing students by arriving hungry and buying a hot dog, or a danish and coffee, from the snack bar. (If you’re a vendor, see my note at the top of this post for flea market contact information.)

The 2016 dates are all on Sundays, open to the shopping public from 7:30 am  until around 3 pm:

  • May 8
  • June 19
  • July 10
  • Aug 14
  • September 11

Support our veterans by supporting nursing students, and if you find any amazing deals along the way, feel free to brag about them in the comments section below.

Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building, 1351 Maple Ave.,Santa Rosa, Santa Rosa, California

(P.S. The smaller MojoSales Flea Markets occur throughout the year, also on Sundays, also at the Veterans Building. Their contact email is MOJOSALES@HOTMAIL.COM.) 

Holographic “Laboratory Atlas of the Pig Embryo”

My absolute favorite area of collecting is holographic books. “Holographic” indicates that the book was handwritten by the author, so the category includes diaries, journals, autograph books, and letters.

These are one-of-a-kind items that thrift stores often just throw away, so ask for the person who sorts book donations and tell them you’re interested. Several local thrift stores save out vintage scrapbooks, diaries, and ephemera for me. If an item is priced under $5, I always buy whatever they’ve saved for me, because I don’t want the staff to have to try to guess what I might want. I have some WWII-era scrapbooks, a handwritten hardbound journal book of recipes from the 1930s, and several filled diaries that I’ve saved from the landfills this way. Most were priced at $2.99 for me. Why so low? Because the thrift store staff also appreciated the item and wanted it to go to someone who would preserve it.

When I first saw A Laboratory Atlas of the Pig Embryo at the flea market several weeks ago, I passed on it. (Champagne tastes, beer budget.) Today the price had come down enough for me to acquire it.

This is a bound lab notebook, printed in 1936 by The Wistar Institute Press. A mimeographed syllabus for a 1942 course is tacked to the title page with circular gummed reinforcements. This was a working course notebook with many preprinted pages, but most of the pages are blank so the student could make drawings.

Like journals and diaries, this is a unique volume, coursework completed by Joseph Schaefer of Minneapolis. This area of collecting not only preserves history, but it also connects us deeply with specific individuals from the past — just as we hope someone may connect with us long after we are gone.


Laboratory Atlas of the Pig Embryo 02 drawingLaboratory Atlas of the Pig Embryo 03 illustrationLaboratory Atlas of the Pig Embryo 01 cover



Purchased at Mojo Flea Market, held at Santa Rosa Vet’s Building, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016

Paid: $15 

Bad Donations

The Valley Fire is bringing out the best and the worst in people as we respond to the needs of evacuees and those who have lost their homes. A friend of mine was sorting clothing for the Red Cross mountain of donations and was appalled at both the choices and the quality of some of the items supposedly sent to help the fire victims — old party dresses and worn-out pillows? Seriously?

I have to think that people generally have good hearts, but when donating, we hate to admit our stuff is “used up.” So people think other folks “won’t mind” broken appliances (“somebody could fix this”), books with missing pages (“somebody could collage with this”), mugs with chipped rims (“they can drink off the other side”), clothing with stains (“somebody might be able to get that stain out if they tried”), etc.

Pick of the Litter Thrift store gets a lot of my donations, and they’ll told me that they take donations, cherry-pick what they want, and send the leftovers to the Salvation Army. Some of those clothes end up as “rags” that may be donated overseas. (And the Go Local concept applies to charities as well: instead of supporting the monolithic Red Cross, you can make targeted donations for Valley Fire relief at Redwood Credit Union.)

My personal rule of thumb is — if the quality of an item would embarrass me to give it to a family member or a coworker, or if it needs explanation about what’s wrong with it (buttons missing, zipper doesn’t work, electrical cord tends to short out) — don’t make a thrift store put it in their dumpster, just to keep it out of my garbage can.

worn-out shoes

Worn-out items go in the garbage can, not the donation box.

I once was about to buy a pressure cooker IN THE BOX at Goodwill, but while I was shopping, the Goodwill clerk looked it over and saw that part of the rubber seal was MELTED. So somebody ruined their pressure cooker, put it back in the original box, and donated it. Maybe they were thinking, “Somebody could use this as a flower pot!” But it’s cruel to poor people and other thrifters to donate things with hidden flaws, or items that no longer work.

Let’s buck up and admit to the amount of true garbage we generate.

Artist Backyard Flea Market, June 6

Sonoma County makers, creatives, and thrifters — head over to the arts area behind Juilliard Park, south of A Street in Santa Rosa, on June 6th. The artists in the galleries of the SOFA arts district will be hosting what promises to be an esoteric set of yard sales. Have you seen their studios and garages? They’re crammed with antiques and weird trinkets, some of which may be past the point of inspiration for the artists, but which could be the next big thing for you.

Artist Backyard Flea Market June 6 & 7, 2015

Artist Backyard Flea Market
June 6 & 7, 2015

The flea market will run all weekend, but the best stuff always goes fast. My strategy is to get there at the opening, do a fast first roam, where I stop to examine only that which I find irresistible, and then take a more leisurely second turn around the place, maybe when some of the later booths still have items coming out.

Chroma Gallery
312 South A Street, Santa Rosa, California  
for info: Frank Caton,

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