06 May 2012

thrifty finds: mercer island thrift store

On a rare afternoon to myself, I headed to nearby Mercer Island Thrift Store. I had been there once before on a playdate with a girlfriend and our then infant and 4 or 5-year-olds. There is a park a stone's throw from the shop so it was a convenient place to meet. But this was before I became hooked on buying vintage. Before my heart would beat a bit faster when I entered the parking lot of a thrift store I hadn't been to before. Before I became a regular at the 4 (now 5) of my local thrift shops. Before I'd understood those bumper stickers or wall art that declared: I'd rather be thrifting.

This thrift store has two levels. The ground level houses books, toys, housewares, a very paltry crafts/office supply section as well as some furniture and jewelry and, I assume, more valuable things on display behind glass. The second level (which I totally missed on my first cursory visit) contains clothing and shoes. On that day, there were also racks of clothing and larger furniture pieces outside as well. I even spied a beautiful mid-century Drexel desk (which the cashier inside said was $250).

For this particular trip, I had a list of items to hunt for. It goes something like this. Anything crafty. Or with crafty potential. Embroidery hoops, embroidery thread, yarn, vintage office supplies, sheet music, vintage (preferable mid-century) vessels/containers/jars for organizing supplies, vintage books about crafts, vintage children's books, or any vintage book with beautiful illustrations.

When I shop, I carefully look through every aisle. Picking up pieces that catch my eye. Turning them over to find a mark or label. Nudging things aside to see the items hiding behind the clutter. I'm not a trained eye by any means, but I do love to look on the backs of things. A few names I recognize and give me pause - Pyrex, Drexel, Made in Denmark. Teak.

On this day, I picked up 6 things. I would have picked up that desk too - if #1 I had $250 to spare (although the cashier/manager? said he would negotiate because it wasn't even officially priced yet because it hadn't been brought into the store) and #2 if I had a larger trunk.

The first thing I picked up was this glass lidded jar. The gold leaf looked vintage to me. Mid-century or at least the 70s. My parents had a set of glasses with gold leaf/gold foil that was reminiscent of this. I loved the shape of this piece. I loved the lid. I loved the gold leaf. It stood apart from the rest of the glassware. At $1.00, I had to have it! I have no idea what I will put inside the jar but I can figure that out later. Drinking straws? Candy? Crafty supplies?

The second thing I picked up was a black carved wood block. Probably not vintage, but I loved the black weathered wood. Crazy idea, a vision of it painted a teal or turquoise popped into my head. Crazy not because it wouldn't look good. Just crazy because I have never painted/refinished anything (other than walls) in my life. It is an irrational fear I have. Anyway, I like the black, for now. This will go either in my kitchen or master bath ($3)

The next three things are in the same category so I will group them together: vintage music books! The store had three short stacks of sheet music and music lesson books on a shelf in the book section. I spent 5 leisurely happy minutes thumbing through the books. As someone who took piano lessons, flute lessons and even a few violin lessons, the children's primers brought back memories. I even used the John M. William Primer Series as a kid (but my version had bright red covers). The blue one I picked up must have predated mine.

The piano books were 50 cents each. The yellow "standard dance music guide" was a quarter. I will either use these for crafting projects or give to my daughter who has taken an interest in piano (at least in the toy electronic ones we have).

And the final piece: a silver-plated wire basket. It looked very familiar to me. As in, I've seen this in vintage etsy shops before, so it must be vintage

It caught my eye in the initial sweep of the store, but I didn't pick it up because there was no mark on the bottom. Some of the silver is worn off and tarnished. But I liked the bones of the piece. I pictured it on top of  our dining room table with fruit or as bread basket. Or even in my scrapbook room as a place to keep mini-books, or works-in-progress, or random supplies. So on my second pass of the store, I picked it up and added it to my haul. ($1.50)

My overall impression of this thrift store? 

Would love to visit again. The cashier I spoke to about the desk seemed knowledgeable and friendly. The prices were definitely pricier (at least for furniture) but I think that comes with the territory because the staff seems to know what sells and what people are looking for. The items were organized. The store was clean. It seemed more like a shop then a warehouse (like Goodwill). The toy section was not as expansive (or kid-friendly i.e. your almost 3-year-old could play among the toys as you browsed close by) as other stores. The shelves were not overflowing with stuff.  but seemed more organized and edited down. For example, there was not a whole row of unclothed dolls lining the shelves as I've seen at Goodwill. I spotted some Harry Potter wands for $20 and a Fisher Price telephone puller toy for $3 (which I recently bought for 50 cents at a church-owned shop.) Again, the crafts section (one of my favorite sections in any thrift store) was paltry. But the lovely vintage music section made up for that. I'll definitely be back.

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