Sunday, July 31, 2011

"Thrifting" in Southern California

I am a native of Southern California. There are many things to love about this place. The sun, the beach, the mexican food (!) the lack of "weather". It's lovely. But there's a dark, insidious underside. Thrifting.

In most of the country, I'm told, one can enter a thrift store and purchase an item for well under what it would cost new. The thrift stores in other parts of the nation, I am led to believe, understand that since they receive items for free, and since they are a charity, and since some of these items are damn beat-up, that they should sell them inexpensively and thus call themselves "Thrift Stores"- stores for the thrifty.

Southern California did not get the memo. Usually, when one enters a thrift store here, if it is indeed inclined to call itself a thrift store and not a "secondhand shop" or "boutique for pre-owned goods", they have one of two pricing issues.
1) They have entirely forgotten what "thrift" means and are now simply selling things at prices about on par with Target.
2) A schizophrenic Jekyll-and-Hyde type character is in charge of the pricing and will sell you a brand new lampshade for a quarter but the chipped and marred mirror in the corner will set you back a c-note.

On a recent adventure into one of the larger thrift stores, there was one loveseat (in moderate need of reupholstering) for $40 set next to another loveseat with broken wood carving at the top for $250.

So... while I theoretically like thrifting, in practice, it's often just frustrating.

But today.... oh today! I've been in search of a filing cabinet to replace the two plastic filing boxes I have sitting on top of each other in my living room. (See below for the awesome organization).

Anyway, I'm at the thriftier of the three thrift stores in my immediate area, the one that really "gets" what it's all about and I spot THE filing cabinet. Two filing drawers PLUS a catch-all drawer PLUS a locking cabinet door WITH a safe inside! A safe! And it was $14.99! So I scurry up to the front and immediately put the money down (no haggling on this one) and AS I'm buying it, a regular to the thrift store starts looking at it and they're like "Ohh. Miss Chang wants it" and I'm thinking 'That's too darn bad, it's mine'.... luckily, they're cool and understand that I'm supposed to own this wonder of organization. Miss Chang gives me the evil eye and I shrug, knowing I've won.

The only thing is... how to get it into the car. I drive a moderately old sedan with the kind of back doors that, for some reason, it was deemed should only open up to a 70-degree angle. So... we spent a while trying to get this thing into my car. Eventually, we just gave up and wedged it into the trunk, after I donated a few items that have been sitting in there for.... a bit (5 years?). I'm not quite sure why I felt I needed crutches in my car at all times, but they have been in the trunk since I sprained my ankle back in '07. Anyway, out they went and... are you ready for the magic?


I only had to drive 2 miles with it. Of course, when I got home, my husband was still out so... I found some random neighbors to help me carry to my porch. I then baked them a pie to say thank you, cuz that's how I roll. (Also, I needed to get rid of some strawberries before they withered, but that'll be our little secret.)

Aaanyway. It' now on my porch. With 4 other projects I'm meaning to take on. But you wanna see what I have planned for it? Do ya? You do. This is just inspiration, it will obviously be wider and shorter, but this style (toned down a bit for my personal taste) will go very well in the living room with the lacquered silk fan and the cherry and rice paper room divider (that I use to hide storage boxes. I'll tell you the tale someday.)

And there you go. Have a lovely day!


  1. That's going to be one bad-ass cabinet. And I feel that the way in which it got to your house is very feng shui, because there's no way it would fit in there without it being one with the universe. Nicely done.

    Dude, you walls ARE shiny. And not in the Firefly sense. I couldn't picture them when you were telling me about the semi-gloss, but wowzer, that is quite the flash reflection on the wall there. ;)

    Anywho, keep going - I love your adventure so far!

  2. I know, right? You don't realize (about the walls) at first and then all of a sudden you look around and... it's like living in a kitchen.