Things from Thing Stores

Eclectic accumulation via thrift store shopping

Archive for the tag “thrifting”

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.) 


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?

The Great Sock Match-Up

I’m not squeamish about buying things at thrift stores that other folks disdain, such as socks, underwear, and bath supplies like shampoo and shower gel. (Hey, I’ll wear my sister’s underwear after it’s been washed, and I know where that’s been.)

Still, when I had an entire laundry basket full of solo socks, I had to face the diminishing returns of Too Many Socks. This afternoon I rounded up socks from all their hiding places, and after the Great Sock Match-Up, I can see clearly now that a hundred pairs of socks is more than any Californian needs. When it gets to the point that you can’t find two alike, so you go out and buy another half-dozen pairs, you have a Sock Problem.

Thanks to my friend TOE (“The Other Ellen”) for moral support and for helping me match up most of the vast collection. If I used the 80/20 rule again, 20 pairs of socks are my workhorses, and 80 are just for fun, so if I downsize half of those … nah, that’s still a little too much fun.

Results of the Great Sock Match-Up !

Results of the Great Sock Match-Up !

First pass: 60 pairs of socks are walkin’ to the Living Room. I’ll donate any I don’t wear at least once during sock weather — which is about 6 weeks in Sonoma County– so only the lonely mismatches will have to go to Salvation Army’s rag bag.

Value: a friend who helps you match your socks is a jewel beyond price 


The Sunday flea markets are the best. I live close to the Santa Rosa Veterans Building where the flea markets are held, and one quickly learns to pass by the new-goods resellers of cheap toys, and to give just a quick glance to the perennial pro sellers with the same overpriced “vintage” items at their table week after week, waiting for that mythical deep-pockets spender.

The best is the people cleaning out storage units — theirs, a family member’s, or even cheerful Harry himself from Harry’s Second Hand Warehouse, who has dozens of tables at the 40/8 Flea Markets. These guys are ready to deal, they haven’t stripped every item of value, and they often don’t know what all’s in those bins, really; they just want it out of their life. (Did you know the average 10X10 storage unit in Santa Rosa costs $200/month?)

Here’s a find from one such booth. My mom and her partner are great fans of the Pogo comic strip by Walt Kelly. They have all the books now, but in 1973, somebody started their own book by clipping the daily paper.

Pogo scrapbook


I just mailed them this oddity, and they were delighted. (Well, they said they were, anyway.)

Mojosales Flea Market, Santa Rosa Veterans Hall, Santa Rosa, California

Price: $1  


Too Many Shoes?

Since we got the flat file, we’ve been on a great sorting-and-discarding jag. He even picked out several items from his Obsolete Computer Components Collection (OC3) to send to the Computer Recycling Center.

So, the next time we walked around Spring Lake, I asked what he thought I should get rid of. I was expecting him to say “knick-knacks” or “dolls” or (most likely) “books,” but he surprised me by saying, “Well, shoes.” He went on to say, “There are so many, and they’re all over the house, and I trip on them and can’t find my shoes.”

How did I ever get so many shoes? Well, duh, thrifting, where novelty is queen and prices are irresistible.

So the next day when he was out of the house, I brought all my shoes into the living room, lined them up, and took a look.

Shoes - Too Many June 2014

I can’t seem to get the same number every time I count, but it’s about 50 pairs of shoes. Yes, women need more shoes than guys do — he can wear the same few pairs all year round, while they’re an accessory item for me. But still. There were many more dressy and business shoes than I have occasion to wear. Heels and fancy shoes are uncomfortable, so I don’t wear them around town anyway, preferring sneakers and walking shoes and sandals.

Using the 80/20 rule, I quickly identified 10 of the 50 pairs (20%) as my workhorses, my daily go-to footwear. So as not to be altogether too dramatic, I decided to reduce the remaining 80% by just half — donating or selling 20 pairs.

It went surprisingly quickly.  Cute fancy flats I never wear? Gone. Extra pairs of business heels in case I ever have that kind of job? Buh-bye. Knee-high blonde boots and slutty black boots? Not worth the closet space.

I took one big box directly to Heavenly Treasures Thrift & Gift, where homeless women from The Living Room can buy clothing and shoes with clothing vouchers, and a second batch went on consignment to Pine Grove General Store in Sebastopol, where I hope to squeeze a little dough out of them.

And was he ever surprised! Now he can walk into our walk-in closet without stepping on my shoes. I’m going to keep that 80/20 principle in mind as I evaluate other Things. (Art supplies, you’re next!)

Come on, fashionistas, confess — how many pairs of shoes do you think you have?

P.S. After I posted this photo on Facebook, the general consensus was that I should retrieve the pointy red shoes in the front, which I did.

Flat File

A few weeks ago, I bought a flat file at the Crossing the Jordan Thrift Store after seeing it posted on their Facebook page. I’ve long wanted one for storing and organizing crafting supplies,  papers, pens, collages, rubber stamps, etc., and at $70, this was the only one I had been able to consider buying. But time was short, and it wouldn’t last long at the thrift store, so … leap!

I brought it home in two trips in my Volvo station wagon, the 8 drawers first, then a second trip for the file itself.

Wee problem: where to put it?

It’s a monster — 46″w x36″d x 26″h, so the footprint is approximately 4 ft x 3 ft.

A flat file, used to store architectural plans and large art pieces.

A flat file, used to store architectural plans and large art pieces.

While it’s a point of pride that my husband and I don’t have a storage unit, our garage functions as our storage unit. Some is off-season or seldom-used items, but there’s also a lot of stuff we wanted out of the house but didn’t have time to deal with at the time — old files, tools, my art area for making altered books and collages, furniture, suitcases, boxes of wrapping paper, Christmas ornaments, computer components given to my technological husband, and so forth.

The flat file remained under storage blankets on the parking pad as we got to work on the garage. Over a couple of weeks we went through enough boxes that we could make room to bring in the flat file and integrate it into my art space.

“Going through stuff” has been one of those tasks for “later.” Yet unfinished business can drag one’s spirit down. That flat file has been the incentive for a whole new spirit of “going through stuff” and “getting rid of,” for both my husband and me, and that alone has been worth the $70.

Purchased at Crossing the Jordan Thrift Store, 3403 Santa Rosa Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95407

Paid: $70. Value: $300 

Puppy-Dog Eyes for my sister Dena

Back on March 19, I said that along with a Balderdash board game, I had found something for my sister Dena’s birthday. Her birthday was yesterday, so now it can be told.

This delightful find is a ceramic mug of an adorable doggy. A separate ceramic head is set in a little indentation, with a little wire running through to the edges of the indentation, so the head is free-moving. And when you tip the cup up to your lips, the little puppy dog eyes follow you!

Here’s the mug in action:

The underside mark indicates it was made in 1984.

Sarsaparilla Deco Designs, W.N.Y., N.J. 1984

Sarsaparilla Deco Designs, W.N.Y., N.J. 1984

Happy birthday, Dena!

Purchased at Goodwill, 1300 4th St, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Paid: not very much. Value: sentimental 

“The Holy Face” redux

The iconographer has been found!

Daniel Shultz of Not Of This World Icons has discovered the identity of the painter of “The Holy Face” icon:  Brother Joseph Brown.

Brother Joseph, OHC (Order of the Holy Cross), painted the icon on commission for the Holy Cross Monastery in New York, as a gift to comfort a  patron of theirs who was very ill. Brother Joseph did not know her personally but knows it brought her spiritual comfort, as it does for me. It was painted shortly after the monastery where he was living burned down.

Here’s what Brother Joesph emailed to me:


I hope you are having a beautiful Paschaltide season. I really do not know that much about the original patron. It was commissioned by the Order of the Holy Cross as a gift to her, so I am assuming it was one the Oblates or longtime supporters. I do remember that she spoke at length to me about the presence of the icon, and how much strength and deep peace it brought her.

It was painted right after the monastery burnt down. I believe it was the first one that I did following the fire. It was a time of very deep surrender for myself, and I am sure that was reflected in the prayers said during its painting.

I wish I had anymore tidbits of information for you, but alas…

I am delighted that the icon has found a new home, and may the blessing of the Holy Face shine upon you and yours.


Br. Joseph


The semester is winding to a close, and for my final homework assignment, I wanted to feature “The Holy Face” icon again, because it is the most important and meaningful item I’ve ever found at a thrift store – or, possibly, anywhere.

[My gratitude to Daniel Shultz, Ann Margitich, and SRJC instructor Donald Laird for their generosity in sharing their knowledge with me, and with deepest appreciation to Brother Joseph for his faithful artistry.]

Fur-Trimmed Lamp

My good friend Dave on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi found this unusual home accessory piece at the Goodwill in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Yes, indeed, that certainly is fur above the chandelier fringe.

photo by David Bartelt

Fur-trimmed lamp found at Goodwill in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Now, this would be the kind of find you’d want to ship home to California, but Dave says, “Mine, all mine!” Can’t blame him, can you?

So, what’s your most unusual sighting at a thrift store?

Purchased at Goodwill, 603 U.S. 90, Bay St Louis, MS 39520

Paid: $4.95 for lamp and shade. Conversational value: priceless ! 

Hello, Katherine!

A few weeks ago at the Goodwill superstore on Stony Point Road, this eye-candy fashion original was in line ahead of me, and I asked if I could photo her for Things from Thing Stores. Here, World, is the lovely and effervescent Katherine Cummings —

Katherine Cummings

Katherine Cummings

Katherine is a student; she and her mom are planning to open an Etsy shop of repurposed items, so keep an eye out for that.

The Goodwill clerk couldn’t get over her Hello Kitty bag and kept talking about it even after Katherine had checked out and left the store. Take inspiration from this bold fashionista. With discriminating thrifting, you can try out new looks on the cheap, and let fashion be your gift of art to the world.

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