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SECOND HAND ROSE


Mrs. Lauderback (2)

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. What used to be called “second hand stores” now are euphemistically known as “thrift stores which sometimes peddle high-end goods to economically savvy shoppers. Not as snooty as antique stores, but a step up from a junk store. In other words, they attract smart people who watch their pennies. Barbra Streisand wailing “Second Hand Rose” gave us a taste of what you could buy second hand.

We ran across a good example a week or so ago in San Juan Baptista when we spotted a great-looking junk store along the road called “Fat Willie’s which carried every sort of miscellany anyone could ever want. Roaming through the town itself we were drawn into “Fat Willie’s Antiques”; a store which brooked no bargaining, but which carried your grandmother’s china and furniture made by fellows like Chippendale, Duncan Phyfe and Hans Wegner (my personal favorite). Between the two stores, Willie was covering all the bases.

As a child my grandmother dragged me along to antique stores while she looked for old china and crystal pieces. I still have a crystal sugar bowl with a broken handle she gave me when I was 14.

In 1942, after the Depression was over, but while the War was still on, my grandmother, mother and aunt showed up each wearing fur coats. It was the first I ever heard that you could buy something that someone else had already used. A real Second Hand Store with “hand-me-downs”. Now, in case you have ever wondered, that term was used by Jewish immigrant merchants who sometimes hung garments on high racks, and when someone asked to see a certain piece would tell his associate to “hand me down” that coat or whatever.

At the suggestion of a friend some years ago, I volunteered my services to the Ladies Home Society in Oakland, California, a charity for the benefit of elderly ladies of refinement. My job was in the small thrift shop sorting through all manner of goods, including clothes, furniture, linen, etc. donated by the members. As first responders, we had first choice in pricing and perhaps purchasing the good stuff. I bought so many clothes that my children laughingly told me they would have to give it all back to Grandma’s Attic when I died. I was so naive at the time I could not believe that some of the lovely embroideries, handmade lace and household goods would not be cherished by children of those who were donating their belongings. Older and wiser friends assured me that the style favored by the next generation doesn’t always include their parent’s residual possessions, but donated clothing, especially beautiful clothing, has great appeal.

Today’s Thrift Stores seem to come in two types: non-profit and those which can make a lot of money for their owners. We knew of someone whose family had three large thrift stores. We keep a box in the garage for things we no longer use and donate to Hope Services, a local non-profit store which gives to the mentally challenged, a group our daughter worked for after college where she had majored in the mentally challenged. We have a well-decked out friend who proudly shows off his “bargain” attire which he picked up at a thrift store after serious and judicious shopping.

When I was teaching pottery classes, I encouraged students to donate their “failures” to a thrift store. After all, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure”, and something handmade is infinitely better than a cheap import.

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10 comments on “SECOND HAND ROSE

  1. I love this post! I frequent Thrift Shops, but for and not for profit. I don’t always purchase something, but I scour the racks and shelves.

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  2. It has become a form of entertainment for many of our friends. Some seem to specialize in certain things, such as books and videos or household goods. Books are far and away the best bargain. One couple I know goes weekly on the day a new shipment comes in. Some or maybe all, won’t sell unless the item is priced, so it makes it hard if you really want something and have to wait until they price it. I once waited out a handmade pitcher for 2 weeks until it was priced.

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  3. And don’t forget the consignment shops! I’ve taken many things to a high-end consignment shop nearby. Their prices aren’t too bad, but they only accept perfect and desirable items — and no clothing. I’ve taken jewelry, paintings, china, collector plates. Especially after Mom died, I gave them a good bit of business. In some cases it was easy, since Mom was a collector, and much of what I had to disperse had no particular sentimental value, apart from the fact that she had bought it. It was good to move things along.

    I stay away from the thrift stores now, since I’m having to really watch even my pennies until I get my eyes paid off, but the good news is that I tend to browse for books anyway, and the library does just fine for that sort of thing!

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    • We used to have a consignment shop in town, but she didn’t make it. It was only clothes. My cousin sole a lot of her mother’s things in her town.
      Some older friends I know go once a week as entertainment whether they buy or not. They should try blogging, it’s more productive!

      Will you go in soon for the second eye? I think I waited a month or so but some go in right away. Funny how we all seem to need it.

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  4. haha, first responders. You’re in good form. You know I also love thrift stores which we call op shops (as in “opportunity”) or, still, secondhand shops here. Hans Wegner furniture is a favourite with me too. Here’s a confession: I often prefer to wear other people’s clothes in preference to my own, especially if the other person is someone I love. There’s magic there. Great post xx

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    • I have a number of Wegner pieces. My aunt lived in Denmark and bought lots of stuff including some unique pottery which I also have. My house is pretty eclectic and I call the living room “leftover family” while the remainder started out to be Santa Fe style. Hans Wegner seems to look good there too.

      I wore pieces of my mom’s clothes for along time after she passed away.

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  5. It is probably one of my favorite things to do when I have free time – to wander through a nice antiques mall filled with everything from one man’s junque (you know it’s worth more if you add that “que) to another’s treasure. I particularly like the old books and photographs. I’ve found such lovely things.

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  6. It’s great fun to run across something you’ve never seen before and no one including the dealer knows what it is for! I used to buy, but now I tend to simply look. I did buy 4 chairs in an Oregon antique store once which my father remembered having seen in a playmate’s home when he was a boy. They are quit unique and I have never seen any like them.

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  7. What fun to read about the stores I first frequented with my thrifty mother and now wander through on my own, looking for a dusty treasure. This post is both interesting and informative, a wonderful combination. The photograph that accompanies it fascinates me. What is it and where did you find it? It looks like something I would have dragged home, much to my husband’s bewilderment.

    PS Thanks for your mentions under “Posts I Like.”

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  8. The sculpture is mine, and is titled Mrs. Lauderback (my inner bitch). She measures about 18 inches and is stoneware. She was my interpretation of a woman seeking to impress as more than she really is.

    No need for deserved thanks. I enjoy your words.

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