Things from Thing Stores

Eclectic accumulation via thrift store shopping

Archive for the tag “thrift stores”

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


Thrifting Tips

The Golden Girl Finance blog has a post with thrift shopping tips, which made me think of some of my own strategies. I don’t expect anybody with a lick of sense to give away their biggest secrets — such as which store puts out genuine gemstone rings at rhinestone prices — but here are a few of my tips:

1. Layers, coats, and lace-up shoes get in the way when you shop for clothing. Keep a pair of flip-flops in the car or in your cloth shopping bag and change bulky shoes before you go inside.

2. Standard wisdom says to shop on a store’s half-price day. My tip is to go the day before half-price day, when the selection is best. Everybody else is waiting until tomorrow, hoping to get that fantastic coat priced at $7.50 for only $3.75. Come on, folks — if you love the coat, get it while it’s still there at $7.50.

3. Ask about discount days or programs. I happened into a store on Student Tuesday, and I was taking a class at the junior college at the time. Thus, with the student ID, my flat file cost $60 instead of $75.

4. If there’s a section you especially favor, ask if they put out new stock on particular days, or if it’s random.

5. Sure, most of us do some reselling on the side to support the habit, but you’ll gain goodwill, karma, and the appreciation of clerks if you pick up after yourself, behave with grace, and even let someone else take away something they especially admire.

6. Find out if the store has a return policy, so you can buy clothing for your loved ones and bring it back for credit if it doesn’t work out.

7. Make a pass through all the sections. I’ve found amazing books set down in the furniture section.

8. If the staff has been especially helpful — such as the folks who helped me load furniture into my Volvo — go on, get ‘em a treat. A box of fresh strawberries was very enthusiastically received by the staff at my local women’s services thrift store.

9. Save money by texting photos of items you’re thinking of getting for someone else, to see if they actually want it.

10. I dunno – what are some of your tips?

Lisa Diamond’s Doll Project

Following tags, I found Lisa Diamond’s Doll Project right here on WordPress. Lisa photographs “dolls, figurines, puppets, masks and mannequins” in situ at thrift stores. Every new post is a treat for the doll collector and thrifter.

Here’s one of my favorites:

“Mannequin #9906” from Lisa Diamond’s Doll Project
(photo used by permission)


After I read about a guy who collects playing card jokers, I wanted to start a Joker collection myself. (It’s not uncommon for me to appreciate a quirky passion, imagine myself in that person’s place, and then start looking for that item as well. How do you think the Hideous Christmas Sweater collection got started?) But even at 50¢ a deck, his 2,000-joker collection would have cost $1,000, so I gave it up.

However, if anyone wants to send me interesting jokers, the collection can still be considered “open for acquisition.”

Some of the playing card jokers I collected before I came to my senses

Some of the playing card jokers I collected before I came to my senses

Fun & Games

My friend Robin is a card fanatic. His game of choice is Rummy, but he’ll play Hearts for old time’s sake if needed. His wife Gayle doesn’t like cards, leaving Robin to pester 3 additional people at a time to make up a foursome.

Therefore, I want him to learn cribbage, which requires only  2 people and is sufficiently competitive. I have my own cribbage board, but I was happy to find a folding cribbage board with all 6 pegs in the hidden cavity on the underside. Now if he does learn to play, I have a cribbage board with which to reward him!

As for myself, I keep trying weakly and with little success to learn to read Tarot cards.

Thrifted Cribbage board & Tarot deck

Tarot deck & cribbage board

I’ve collected dozens of Tarot decks over the years for their artwork, but my brain is like a colander – info flows in and info flows right out again (taking some dirt with it, I hope). This deck has keywords for each card, which — who knows? — might just do the trick. (Of course I counted to make sure all 78 cards were there, because some clueless people actually donate broken items, or those with key elements missing. Buyer beware!)

Pickin’s were slim at the Hospice Thrift store yesterday. Still, while the big scores are exciting, so are days like yesterday, when thrifting is just for “fun & games.” And I certainly got my $2.83 worth of browsing entertainment.

Sutter Care at Home Thrift Store, 510 Lewis Road, Santa Rosa.
Cribbage board: $1; Tarot deck: $1.50 

The Holy Face icon

Figurines and paintings of Buddha, the Virgin Mary, saints, fairies, and angels are easy to find. I love representations of the holy, and I’ve made an interdenominational shrine of my front porch. But when I went on a quest for a “good” Jesus – not the blond, Anglo image I grew up with in the 1970s – I found him surprisingly rare in the thrifting world … 

… and then this astonishing piece came to me.


icon of The Holy Face

The traditional story is that King Abgar, a leper, sent his messenger to ask Jesus to come to him so he could be healed. Instead, Jesus pressed a linen napkin to His own face, and the image His face was imprinted on the linen like a painting. This original relic was subsequently known as the Image of Edessa.

When Abgar received this “icon not made by human hands,” he was healed of his leprosy. The Holy Face is considered the first icon, and one typically sees the image portrayed with a cloth napkin behind it.

This particular icon was hand-painted in acrylics, including gold leaf. At 15 inches by 15 inches, it’s a large piece in a “modern traditional” style. With a painting of this religious significance, I wanted to be sure it was rightfully mine. If it had been stolen, or if it belonged in a church, I wanted to do right by it. So I wrapped it in a blanket and took it to a few local experts for advice.

Ann Margitich is an icon painter at St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Christian Church in Santa Rosa, known to many Sonoma County residents as the church that hosts the annual Glendi International Food Festival. Mrs. Margitich directed me to a 2-volume set, Theology of the Icon, by Leonid Ouspensky, for background on iconography and The Holy Face.

Daniel Shultz of Not of This World Icons on Mendocino Avenue (a few doors north of my own Unitiarian Universalist congregation) thought it might have been painted by the former abbot of Holy Transfiguration Monastery of Redwood Valley, but a phone call to Father Abbot Damian Higgins at Holy Transfiguration Monastery confirmed that it was not their Brother Joseph.

If anyone can tell me more about the iconographer from the dedication on the back, please let me know.


The Holy Face of Our Lord Jesus Christ
to the glory of God by the unworthy hand of Brother Joseph, OHC
Advent 2008, IC XC NI KA

Normally, a church or individual would commission such a piece. Still, both Mrs. Margitich and Mr. Schultz assured me that I could own it, and Mrs. Margitich said, “They say an icon goes to whomever is supposed to have it.”

I have been blessed.

Purchased at Sacks on the Square thrift store, Railroad Square, Santa Rosa, California

Paid: $7.50. Value: $500-1000. 

Thomas Bros. map books now out-of-print

Thomas Guide 1992

Before GPS technology came into widespread use, real estate agents and delivery truck drivers relied on Thomas Guide map books for detailed street maps. The spiral-bound books were comprehensive and expensive, ranging from $15-$30 and up, depending on the region. But now, due to competition from GPS, Thomas Brothers has stopped printing most of these detailed city/county guides, making “the secondary market” (used bookstores and websites) the only place to get many of them.  And GPS doesn’t work everywhere, you know.
I originally bought this Sonoma County map book for 25¢ at the Santa Rosa Sunday flea market to use in making collages –  but I’ve learned to check values of books before merrily cutting them up, thankfully.
Late last fall I listed this 1992 “Sonoma County” map book for sale online at a competitive $9.99. Just six months later, it sold as the lowest-priced of the used Sonoma County Thomas Guides on, even though it’s more than 20 years old and only in “fair” condition. (Later editions combined Sonoma and Napa counties, or Sonoma and Marin counties.)
So keep an eye out for inexpensive Thomas Guides, even ancient ones in marginal condition, which can have good resale value on (e-Bay’s used book site),, or on .

Junior Scientist Kit with Microscope

Gil Mansergh writes:
“The St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in Rohnert Park has a glass case and shelf behind the counter for the more expensive items. My daughter is a marine microbiologist, and I picked up a ‘still in the cellophane’ junior scientist biology lab kit from the 1950’s — complete with a dried frog and fish for dissection. I bought the nearly new kit for $22. I started giving Sarah microscopes (including toy ones) for her birthday several years ago, and am always prowling thrift shops annually to add to her collection. Heck, it’s better than pottery garden statues isn’t it?”

Thanks for sharing your “score from a thing store,” Gil. 


The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss’s famous environmental story for children was published in two simultaneous first editions. A bookstore “trade edition” had a quote on the back by Rudolf Flesch in a blue box. The more scarce “library edition” had the same quote in a pink box. One of the points for identifying the true first edition(s) of this title are the number of other Seuss titles listed on the back cover, which, for the first edition, was 32 books. There’s also an unflattering reference to polluted Lake Erie that was removed in most of the later editions, after a Lake Erie clean-up organization petitioned Dr. Seuss’s publisher to recognize their efforts by removing the reference.
I purchased this book, in “Good” condition, at the Goodwill Superstore on Stony Point Road for $3.99 and subsequently listed it for sale on for $175. )

Lorax front szLorax back sz


Hard to find these in thrift stores, but I adore and use the four that I own.
“Make-a-Plate” is a proprietary kit from the Makit company and is designed to feature children’s artwork. The child draws on special paper in the kit, which is then mailed to the company, and a few weeks later, a heavy-duty Melamine plastic plate is mailed back with the artwork permanently applied.



These plates were purchased at the Sutter Care at Home Thrift Store, 510 Lewis Road, Santa Rosa, for $3 each.

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