Scrapbook: Girls’ Day Community Sale

September is a wonderful time of year. For many it means back to school and the hopeful return of cooler weather, but for me it means something even better: community yard sales. Isobel and I had planned on having what she calls a Girls’ Day, which means just the two of us hanging out for a period of time ranging from a weekend to a few hours. Strict observance of Girls’ Day is much harder to come by now that Elias is here, but we sometimes manage to observe them during his nap time. Today we had a whole morning and into the early afternoon to ourselves while Anthony stayed home and observed Dude Time.

Our plan was to start the day by visiting the animatronic dinosaur exhibit that had come to town, but because children like to get up earlier than is humanly healthy even on the weekends, we discovered we had two hours to kill before it opened. Normally, in a situation like this we’d go thrifting, but today we were in luck as it was the day of the annual community yard sale. Held in the enormous parking lot of one of the local churches it houses over two hundred vendor spots and is packed with people and wares. I’ve snagged some great finds there before (such as Isobel’s original infamous Pink Purse!), but last year was tremendously lackluster. Even if we found nothing to take home I know Isobel and I would have a good time of it, so off we went.


We arrived early and the sale was as packed as usual. Last year seemed to be crowded with yard sale junk that people were trying to sell for ten times its value, so I was wary, but almost immediately I could see that this year would be different. Isobel even brought a dollar in change of her own money, which she is immensely proud of spending, to choose her own special treat. As part of my mission to indoctrinate her into the joys of thrifting, I always let her choose something special (within reason). I actually can’t think of a time where she’s chosen a toy; she seems to gravitate toward random household items that become fixtures in her imagination play as soon as we get home. Girlfriend particularly has an attraction to fake flowers, as well as anything Christmas-related, and so it was no surprise that she gravitated immediately to a poinsettia bouquet arrangement in the first stall we visited. She also clutched onto a small plush Christmas stocking, the kind you might buy for a pet, and I negotiated both of them for Isobel’s own dollar.

Our favorite stall this year wasn’t a regular yard sale booth nor was it strictly a vintage vendor. Rather it was a blend of the two, run by two friendly Chinese-American women around my mother’s age. Their mother had passed away some time ago, leaving them the contents of what must have been a spectacularly preserved vintage pad. And her closet, oh my god, her closet, nothing but pristine, drool-worthy pieces from the fifties and sixties. Instead of hosting an estate sale, the two sisters did some vintage sleuthing and were selling the wares at places like this. They were newbies when it came to vintage, and very enthusiastic.  Their prices rivaled that of an antiques store and our budget was slim, so I was allowed only to purchase one two dollar silk scarf from their extensive collection. The clothes were so great though, and fairly (if somewhat steeply) priced. They weren’t in my size, which saved some agony on my part, but a little piece of me did die for not picking up a stack of these plastic vintage cups ($12).


The clothes were all just amazing, and I heard one shopper remark on how great they were “as far as used clothing goes,” which is probably the most derisive back-handed compliment about thrifting I’d ever heard. Practically my entire outfit that day was made up of used clothing, and I was rocking it. You can tell from the photo above all the amazingness that was packed on to one half of a rack, and there were four. The scarves in the photo alone are enough to haunt me with regret.


One of the greatest things for sale at that booth was a 1950s diner waitress-style apron in bumblebee yellow with four pockets on the front labeled Tips, Complaints, Suggestions, and Compliments. I couldn’t stop talking about it until finally one of the sisters pulled it off the rack and stuck it behind her table to take home with her. I didn’t mean to, but I ended up talking her into buying her own apron.

A recent trend at sales like this is to purchase whole storage lockers that have been forfeited by their owners. I always find this exciting because I don’t shy away from getting my hands dirty and doing a little digging. The surprising things you find are generally also a surprise to the people hosting the sale. Best of all, it’s not personal, so no one says, “Oh, I’m asking more for this because it was one of my favorites” (I don’t care, and neither do you, you’re selling it), and because it’s not personal, everyone is free to laugh at the weird stuff without embarrassing anyone or hurting their feelings.


It is inevitable that in a sale of this magnitude that we find some exceptional specimens of thrift store gore. In fact, a seller actually threatened me with one. I was taking a photo of the framed poster below that I have named Clown Horror when the older gentleman who was running the booth started yelling at me for taking pictures. He stopped, though, the moment he saw I was taking a photo of the clowns instead of his precious framed John Wayne posters. I’m still confused as to why, but that’s a mystery that will remain unsolved. The clown poster looked like something that would go for $5 at a county fair, and the vendor told me I wasn’t allowed to take photos of anything at his booth except for the clown poster. Then he offered it to me for $15, saying he normally asks for $20. I told him we were just browsing and then he told me I could have it for $5 when Isobel shouted out I HAVE A DOLLAR. He then tried to sell it to her for a dollar when she shouted I ALREADY BOUGHT THESE FLOWERS FOR CHRISTMAS. He turned and tried to sell it to me for a dollar. I told him we weren’t interested, grabbed Isobel, and made a hasty escape.


It was the first time anyone so aggressively tried to pawn off their wares on us for so cheaply, also the first time someone tried to convince my five year old to buy something.

Bonding over thrifting, or as we often call it, “treasure hunting” is one of our favorite things to do together, and always makes for a perfect Girls’ Day.


Thrift Store Gore: The Feeder (For People)

My friend Jacob’s Grandma was having a huge yard sale, and since I was unable to get away due to the kids and Anthony’s possible appendicitis, he kindly texted me photos of some of the tables so I could virtually pick out what I wanted and he would set it aside for me. “But first,” he said, “I have something to show you.”

It was The Feeder (For People)–pure vintage Thrift Store Gore. It was brand new, still in the box. A testament to a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. Grandmas will think it perfect. Because Grandma is a grandma, she had kept it stored safely away, in its box, which is the best part, all these years. I ask Jacob if he ever remembers using it, and he said, “Not ever. It arrived at her yard sale mysteriously, like a magical artifact.” A connection to the Illuminati has been suggested. Look at the shape of the box, for example. Triangular!

(Unrelated to The Feeder, Isobel appears in these photos wearing her Super Hero costume because I took these photos before school started when she still got dressed into her hero costume everyday. It’s not relevant to the story here but I felt like it was such an obvious feature in the photos it’d be weird not to mention.)

There are so many things to say about The Feeder (For People) that I don’t even know where start.

Party sensation! Guest pleaser! Nothing makes a guest feel more comfortable or welcome than saying, “I don’t trust you to eat food in my home!! Please eat out of this inconvenient plastic phallus!!” The person who designed this thought it such a good idea that they ran out and registered for a patent. I’m only guessing here, but I think the reason it’s called The Feeder (For People) is that there was probably already a patent out on a device called “The Feeder.” Maybe it was a pet treat dispenser or a hamster or bird feeder. Who knows, but I’m assuming it had to do with animals since they had to specify it was (For People).

It’s touted as being a great idea but really, it’s such a terrible one. It might save some pretzels from falling into the floor, but it’s pretty inconvenient to use. I mean, a kid might like it. I guess. As a novelty. But it says on the box you can store flour and sugar in it, which is such a terrible idea that if someone asked me to come up with the stupidest ideas of what to store in here I’d probably say flour or sugar. How would you even get loose powder or grains into the dispenser? And getting it out to use it? The box boasts it is also great for storing pins, buttons, and soaps! Because you want to teach your children that The Feeder (For People) is for delicious candies, then psych them out by filling it with delicious soap. That’ll learn them!

And pins? Pins?! The only way to get them out would cause bodily harm.

The Feeder (For People), a must in every home!! The box makes some incredible promises. Can’t it just admit that it really has one purpose that it does only moderately well and leave it at that? It practically offers to do my taxes and make me the most popular kid on the block. They make a big deal of it being “shatterproof”, but really all that means is that it’s made of plastic. Their marketing team was working overtime for this baby.

The kid on the box is using it next to the pool, which it not only disgusting, but I want to know who is you so damn lazy that you can’t make your kid get out of the pool to eat something. The last thing I want floating past me while I’m swimming is a bloated cracker that escaped The Feeder (For People), because if you’ve ever been around children for any length of time, you know that that is bound to happen.

But, what about the children? Maybe The Feeder (For People) is something I can’t understand but children just love, like Gogurt. I showed it to Isobel before lunch and she was so so excited when she saw the box she insisted we open it immediately. I understood why when I pulled it out of the box and she was visibly crushed. She did not give a Pikachu’s ass about The Feeder (For People). She thought it would be full of the colorful candy pictured on the box. I suggested we fill it with other treats so she could try it out. I was anxious for her to use it to see for myself. Did it have any intrinsic value at all?

It took some convincing, but she reluctantly agreed to try it. I filled it with Goldfish crackers. She tilted it over and shook a few crackers out. She looked at the few crackers in her hand, and back at The Feeder (For People).

“UGH!” Isobel sighed. “Why don’t we just dump all this in a bowl?”

And I don’t want to snark on a child, but they chose the worst photo of a boy to feature on the front of the box. His crazy-focused stare and his mouth-breathing expression seem to communicate a zombie-like fixation on The Feeder (For People), as if that’s the only way he’s given nourishment. The caption reads, “Game Room Pleaser,” but it should say something like “Must… feed.” Also, I wish they wouldn’t use the word “pleaser.” It’s making me uncomfortable. The box also lists it’s a party sensation, and I know when I look at that kid’s face I think that yeah, that kid is totally experiencing a party sensation right now. At his grandma’s house.

I don’t know. The face is sort of cute. I can imagine it as part of decoration in a kitchen maybe. Is that crazy?

Perhaps not as crazy as using it.

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