The Library of Things

GoPro Camera_SmallHow’d you like to go to your local library and check out a GoPro camera, a sewing machine, or an acoustic guitar? If you’re in Sacramento you can, at the Arcade Library’s Library of Things. In addition to being a great tool for building community, it’s also a fantastic way to efficiently use resources through sharing objects that might otherwise be purchase by multiple people who barely use them, which is just up Stuff You Don’t Want’s alley. Branch supervisor Justin Azevedo was kind enough to answer a few questions about this new venture.

1. What prompted you to open a Library of Things?

The Library of Things was funded by a project called Library Unexpected which sought to challenge people’s perceptions of what a library is and what it can do for them.

2. Has it brought in a new constituency into the library?

Guitar_smallYes. One of the first people to check out one of the guitars was a homeless man who wanted to use it to have jam sessions with friends that got together in a nearby lot to play during the evenings. He worked with us to ensure that he could keep the instrument here while it was checked out to him so it wouldn’t get damaged or stolen.

The board games have also brought in new patrons. A large number of the people who check them out introduce them to friends and family members in order to encourage further gaming together. I make it a point to ask the patrons what they thought of each game as they check them in, partly to check for missing pieces but mostly because I love games myself and want to hear their feedback so we can serve them better.

3. How did you determine which items to offer initially? Which have proven to be the most popular?

Sewing machine_smallerThe items in the Library of Things were 100% patron-selected. We polled the public for suggestions and built the collection based on that feedback.

One of the key staff members affiliated with the project was very interested in sewing machines, while another staff member and I had a particular interest in video and board games, so our input had some influence. Overall, though, the patrons of Sacramento chose the items that began the collection.

The sewing machines and the GoPro cameras are two of the most popular items in the library.

4. Now that it’s been open almost a year, what’s been most surprising about the process?

Board games 1_smallThe program was implemented at one of our more visible and highly frequented branches, which serves a socioeconomically mixed area and is close to a number of schools. Anyone in Sacramento can place a hold on the items, but they have to go to that library to pick them up and return them.

By doing this, we’ve made it into a destination library. Now patrons from other parts of the county can discover some of the other unique services we have, such as our 3D printing lab and makerspace, when they check out items.

5. Would you encourage other libraries, like those in Los Angeles, to start a similar program? Any specific tips you could offer?

Yes. There are few other libraries who offer a similar services already.

We based the general idea of the Library of Things on similar collections that other libraries have offered, such as tool libraries and rentable musical instrument libraries. We also have a history of loaning nontraditional items here at Sacramento Public Library, including a seed library, multiple read-and-feed gardens, and a collection that includes museum passes, art kits, and electricity usage meters.

6. Any final thoughts?

Libraries will always be about equitable access to information for self-directed, lifelong learning, whether the medium is a book, the Internet, or something else. The Library of Things is simply an extension of that idea.

For example, all libraries carry books on sewing patterns and how to use a sewing machine, and many offer programs for local crafters in the community to come together and share knowledge. We also happen to offer the actual machine so for hands-on practice.


I Ate Expired Food For a Week and It Was (Mostly) Fine: You’re Welcome, Obama!

This is an experiment from a few months ago — sorry about my tardiness in posting it! Something to think about as we waste far too much food during the holiday season!

pancake_breakfastAll your life you’re told there are rules you must live by. Don’t end a sentence with a preposition. Don’t wear white after Labor Day. Don’t take a knife to a gunfight. As time goes on, you learn that many of these rules are, at best, guidelines, and, at worst, bad advice. Nowhere are the expectations of the world so seemingly definitive and yet so misleading than when it comes to food expiration dates.

For years, I took the dates stamped on my groceries seriously. Rice from six months ago? Right in the trash. A can of beans from 2014? Not so fast there, buddy. Even after I came to understand that these were often ‘best by’ dates, or ‘sell by’ dates, I still behaved cautiously. Maybe I’d cheat it a few days, a week. A month, maybe, for a less volatile food product – or an especially delicious one. And yet this still meant I was tossing perfectly good food on a regular basis.

The Obama administration recently announced their goal of cutting U.S. food waste in half, an amount estimated at 133 billion pounds of food each year. One component of this effort is educating the public about the true meaning of dates on food packaging. Chef Dan Barber is championing the cause, even offering a recipe for milk that’s gone sour.

In the spirit of this edict, I vowed to eat something seriously expired every single day for a week, pushing my previous limits. I consulted for advice. Join me as I eat the most dangerous food my pantry and refrigerator have to offer.


435px-Brown_chicken_eggDay One: Sunday, September 20, 2015.

The food: eggs.

The date: September 5, 2015 says: good for 3-4 weeks after the sell by date

During the month I spent volunteering at an endangered turtle camp in Mexico without access to refrigeration, the other volunteers and I regularly consumed eggs that had been exposed to the 90-degree heat for days on end. No one worried about it. (We were also surrounded by scorpions and our bathroom cleaner proudly announced that it killed cholera, so, in fairness, the egg situation wasn’t anyone’s biggest concern.) Since then, even though I’ve learned that the U.S. requirement that our eggs be power washed means they are stripped of their protective coating and more in need of refrigeration, that experience has made me a bit more cavalier about the danger posed by old or poorly stored eggs. Still, bad eggs pose a serious health risk, and that’s not something to be cavalier about.

Following’s advice, I cracked open my eggs, inspecting the whites. Were they still white and cloudy? Check. Any pinkish hue? Nope. I smelled them. Nothing weird there.

I made an omelet with avocado, onions, and hen-of-the-woods mushrooms for my boyfriend and I. Delicious.



pizzellesThe food: baking powder

The date: June 28, 2014 says: good for one year after the printed date

I know what you’re thinking: Baking is a science! It’s too risky! What if my cookies don’t turn out, and an hour from now I have sub-par cookies. The horror! I have been through this exact mental process many times, leading to who knows how much prematurely rejected baking powder. Not this time.

Luckily, there is a test to see if baking powder still works. I added a teaspoon of baking powder to half a cup of hot water to make sure it bubbled. It did. Voila, pizzelles!


yeast_dateDay Two: Monday, September 21, 2015.

The food: yeast

The date: November 22, 2012 says: good four months past the printed date, if refrigerated

Yeast is a living thing. Could my yeast still be alive after almost three years of neglect, long past even the suggested end date by I was skeptical.yeast_rising

I did a visual check, as recommended. It wasn’t clumpy or dark brown, which would signal spoilage, but an attractive tan, as if it had recently returned from spring break in Cabo. Helpfully, there was another test. I poured half a cup of warm water in a measuring cup. (Not hot, warm – hot water will kill yeast, and this yeast had been through enough already). Then I added a teaspoon of sugar, along with 2 ¼ teaspoons of yeast. If it foamed up to the one-cup mark after a minute, it was usable. It did, and it kept going!

breadI brought in a loaf of bread to my co-workers in the morning with a disclaimer about the yeast’s age. Several of them thought I was pointing this out as a selling point, as if my yeast was like a vintage wine. By noon, the loaf was gone.


Day Three: Tuesday, September 22, 2015.

The food: sesame oil

The date: sometime in 2012 (date partly worn off) says: good for 1-2 years after its sell-by date, depending on storage conditions

Once again, I was well past even that recommendation. I conducted a smell and taste test. Meh. Seemed fine to me.

sesame_noodlesMy boyfriend made us peanut noodles with it, which were super tasty, though we both agreed it would be better with slightly less peanut butter. Meanwhile, I prepared cookie dough for the next day.


spicesWednesday, September 23, 2015

The food: cloves

The date: December 30, 2006 says: good 3-5 years past their expiration date.

The shelf life of spices varies considerably, and they last much longer when stored in a cool, dry environment. That’s why people in the know never mount their spice rack over their stove. The best way to test their effectiveness is to smell them. Despite being nine years old, my cloves smelled plenty clovey to me, so I proceeded to use them with my favorite almond refrigerator cookies recipe, a prize winner at the 1976 Texas State Fair.

cookiesI brought three-dozen cookies into work the next day with another advisory about the age of the spices. (My nutmeg was from 2009). Minutes later, my co-worker, Josh, appeared with bagels and lox for everyone, stealing my thunder. The break room flooded with breakfasters. Cream cheese was everywhere. I fretted about my overshadowed cookies.

Not to worry. By 1:00, there were only two left. The next time I checked, the Tupperware container was empty, only the warning note remaining.


hot_chocolate2Day Five. Thursday, September 24, 2015

The food: hot chocolate

The date: I couldn’t find one, but I am certain I’ve had it for at least eight years, and possibly longer. says: good 4-6 months past printed date

This was no nasty old Swiss Miss. This was some seriously posh hot chocolate given to me as a gift, more akin to a regular chocolate bar. It had moved with me to at least three apartments, and the last time I’d used it, several years before, it already seemed pretty dicey. I wasn’t going to give up that easily. As per’s instructions, I inspected it. Was it getting white around the edges, maybe a little waxy? Yes and yes. Still, since that was related to flavor and not safety, I forged ahead.

I cooked it with some 7-grain milk over the stove, which I’d opened on September 3rd, so that was also weeks past its recommended usage date. In all honesty, it was not especially tasty, though it wasn’t awful. I drank about half and then dumped the rest.


mayoDay Six. Friday, September 25 , 2015

The food: mayonnaise

The date: May 20, 2014 (or 2015? not sure) says: good for one week past printed date was very stern about old mayo, and I don’t blame them. It smelled off, and  was yellow, instead of creamy white — another warning sign. My tuna fish sandwich plan thwarted, I tossed the mayo in the trash.

I also ditched my extremely vintage ketchup because it smelled questionable. I noted that Heinz ketchup lasts longer than other ketchups, according to Interpret that as you will.


pancake_syrupDay Seven: Saturday, September 26, 2015

The food: maple syrup

The date: October 24, 2010 says: good indefinitely

Despite the fact that exists only to discourage food waste, it can still be a little tentative about some things, partly out of legitimate health concerns and partly out of, I’m sure, fear of lawsuits. Despite that, they are pretty freewheeling about how long you can use maple syrup: forever. If it starts to crystalize, you can simply re-heat it to restore its original consistency. I was super happy to hear this, as I go through maple syrup at a glacial pace.

pancake_mixI made pancakes with syrup for my final expired meal. The pancake mix, FYI, was dated March 19th, 2015, but since it consists mostly of flour and baking powder, I wasn’t too worried about it.


What did I learn from eating expired food for a week? Your eyes and nose, along with a few simple chemical tests, are the best way to tell if food’s edible or not, not some arbitrary date stamped on the package. So, eat up, America!




Thrift Store Review: Cherry Picked Thrift Shop, Santa Monica

I don’t know how I have missed this thrift store for the six years it’s been open, but my personal observational failings are not the subject of this post. This is merely to alert you that the Cherry Picked Thrift Store near Pico and 28th in Santa Monica is an incredibly well-run and tidy place to shop, clearly a result of the loving attention of the manager and their committed staff of volunteers. They have a relatively small inventory, but everything there is clean and super well-organized. They also offer free coffee (though they won’t let you drink it in the store, but merely allow you to take it to go, which struck me as odd.) Overall rating: B+

What to buy:

1. Christmas Sweaters. Whether you are in the like-it-sincerely or like-it-ironically camp, you can wow everyone at your holiday gathering/office Christmas party/bad Christmas sweater event with a choice offering from this store. This appears to be a line they’ve created in-house, and they do not hold back from letting their decorating flair run rampant. They were priced between $20 and $35.

2. Christmas decorations and wrapping. Holiday decorations are a great thing to get used, since they’re rarely worn out, and it’s hard for them to really look dated. (Unless they’re really vintage, and that’s appealing in a different way.) All the inventory here is well-sorted and fairly priced. Ribbon was typically around fifty cents.

3. Kids clothes, including underwear. I can understand how you might be reluctant to purchased used underwear for your kids, but the baskets of kids stuff are so lovingly arranged you might change your mind if you saw them — and they’re only fifty cents.

4. Wall hangings. I saw some super cute vintage pieces of art/crafts up on the wall ranging from $5 – $20. If anything, I think they’re underpriced.

I see people raving about their clothes on Yelp, but I wasn’t personally that wowed by the selection. I saw prices from $5 and up, but there was a 50% off sale while I was there, so now’s a great time to have at it.

How I Thrift: Patrice J. Williams

looking-fly-on-a-dime-thrifty-threads-midi-skirt-with-a-split-606x1024I was thrilled to get an interview with today’s subject, Patrice J. Williams, whose thrifting advice book, Looking Fly on A Dime, is available from Amazon. I found her through her blog of the same name, which features thrifty fashion tips as well as pics of great outfits she’s thrifted in her home base, New York City. She always looks great, so you know she knows what she’s talking about. If you want to start thrifting but aren’t sure how, pick up a copy of her book!

1. When did you first start thrifting, and why?

My mom tells me I loved thrifting as a child, but I don’t remember that. My first recollection of thrift shopping was my sophomore year of college at Temple University. I needed an outfit for an induction ceremony but had nothing to wear and I was too broke to buy something at a department store. I stumbled across a thrift shop and immediately found a brown top and faux suede pencil skirt that was perfect. Since then, I’ve been hooked.

2. Where do you thrift shop? Specific recommendations in your area would be great!

photo-7-1024x969I love thrifting throughout NYC, including at the Salvation Army on 46th street, which is super organized and a place I always find cute dresses and vintage blouses. My go-to for serious bang for my buck is Housing Works’ Buy the Bag in Brooklyn, which sells an entire bag of clothing for $25 per bag. I also recommend Udelco’s vintage warehouse in New Jersey where the clothes are organized in bins based on decades and styles.

3. What are some of your best finds?

photo-5-1024x892One of my favorite finds is an emerald pleated vintage dress. It was less than $10 and I found it in a small town in Ohio, which proves you don’t need to live in a big city to find amazing secondhand goods. My all time favorite piece is a Christian Dior vintage double breasted coat I bought for $23 last year. It’s a statement making piece that’s perfect for cold New York winters.

4. What kinds of things do you try to buy used?

looking-fly-on-a-dime-christian-dior-red-coat-682x1024I try to buy most things thrifted, besides underwear, of course!  Some of my favorite pieces include dresses, vintage blouses and jumpsuits. Also, if there’s a trend I’m on the fence about, I try to find it at a thrift shop and play around with making it work before investing too much in a trend I might not love or wear for years to come.

5. Are there any items that are a particularly good deal in your area?

thrift-shop-style-what-i-wore-vintage-dior-1024x945I’ve always found a mixture of everything in the New York tri-state area. But I’ve always found amazing deals on vintage secretary and pussybow blouses.

6. Do you have any general tips for anyone without much thrifting experience? Any warnings?

My best tip for new thrifters would be to have realistic expectations. You’re most likely not going to find the garment of your dreams during the first 10 minutes of your first thrifting trip. But with a bit of patience and repeat visits, you’ll find what you want and need. The only warning would be to avoid buying something just because it’s quirky and/or cheap. You’ll come across a lot of stuff like that but if you don’t really love it, leave it behind because you’ll end up with a closet full of garments you don’t really want and it’s easy to overspend.

7. Anything else you’d like to add?

I love thrifting so much I wrote the book on it. Looking Fly on a Dime: How to Find Fabulous Fashion at Any Thrift Shop & Make the Cheap Look Chic breaks down the do’s and don’ts of secondhand style. I really wanted to debunk the myth that thrift shopping is dirty or hard to do. Anyone can thrift!

Thanks so much, Patrice, and happy thrifting!


Get Schooled: Donating School Supplies

11329_10151273967446883_567756184_nIt is fairly widely known that public school teachers, who are seriously underpaid in many regions of the U.S., often incur the additional expense of buying school supplies for their classroom. These supplies can include everything from maps on the wall, to pens and pencils, to backpacks. Thankfully, a number of organizations have sprung up in recent years to collect school necessities and 11755891_10153073562145698_7240958482096150632_ndistribute them free to teachers. I talked with a few of them — Sinead Chilton from Schools on Wheels (SOW) in Los Angeles, California, Alice Forbes from Schoolhouse Supplies (SS) in Portland, Oregon — to get the full scoop on their donation process. They have fairly similar wish lists, though Schools on Wheels takes fewer used items than most such organizations.

1. Who uses your program?

12036409_10153189456450698_2892901302398421420_n(SS) Schoolhouse Supplies’ Free Store for Teachers is open to every teacher in the Portland Public Schools (PPS) district, and to a broader network through our Volunteer Voucher program. As of June 2015, Schoolhouse Supplies has provided school supplies valued at $23.4 million to help students succeed, over $4 million in pencils alone.
(SOW) Our program is open to homeless youth living in shelters, motels, cars, on the street and in group foster homes.

2. What are some unusual items that people might be surprised to know you accept?

12039718_10153189456630698_1090389635268598420_n(SS) We accept toys and prizes such as small games, novelty pens, etc., that teachers can use for  incentives to motivate students.
(SOW) Every year one of our longtime donors knits beanie hats for our students using leftover wool that come in all colors. The kids love them! We also accept gently used books and textbooks, including reference books, history and geography books, and children’s classics. We also take used calculators, scissors, office furniture and supplies.

3. What do you get offered a lot that you can’t use?
(SS) Old textbooks and romance novels.
(SOW) Used school supplies and backpacks. We only give our students new school supplies. It is especially meaningful for homeless kids to get new items because they don’t have the luxury to go shopping for new school supplies. Being able to give a student a choice between brands and designs really makes them feel empowered and start the school year on the right foot.

4. What would be an example of a dream donation?
(SS) Our need for art supplies is always high. Bank of America is generously matching the value of any cash or product donations made to the art aisle between now and then end of the school year, so those would be especially appreciated!
(SOW) Everything a student needs for the whole school year. We also accept used laptops (2009 or newer). It’s very hard for students without access to technology to complete their assignments.

Thanks so much! I hope you will keep organizations like these in mind throughout the school year. If you have a potential donation that you think might be useful to teachers near you, contact the closest such organization near you and ask!

Thrift Store Review: Treasure Island in Canoga Park

treasureisland_smallI had high hopes for Treasure Island, which appears to have taken the former spot of Rummage Rat on Sherman Way in Canoga Park, based on its name. Unfortunately, Treasure Island failed to deliver on its implied promise of parrots, adventure, and, most critically, treasure. While ‘treasure’ might be a high standard, perhaps that term might be more suited to a store that did not think it appropriate to charge up to five dollars for a used DVD or sell a used fax machine at all. I found it particularly annoying that almost no prices were marked, forcing you to ask whenever you wanted to know how much something was. Their combination of messy thrift store vibe and antique store prices was a serious mismatch.

Overall rating: C-

santasmarchingband_smallThe coolest thing I saw in there was this Santa’s Marching Band, which, when plugged in, played songs by ringing the bells in turn on each individual marcher. However, they wanted $120.00 for it, and a quick search of ebay shows that it is not that rare and many sets are available for half that or less. I got the distinct impression that Treasure Island was run as if in some pre-Internet reality when shoppers could not always easily find a comparable vintage item, so pricing was often skewed.

Normally I recommend categories of items to buy at stores I review, but I can’t wholeheartedly recommend anything here. Here are two possible categories to consider under very specific circumstances.

green_phone_smaller1. Phones. Hey, maybe you’re actually looking for a landline phone. The thing is, you can get a pretty generic new one from AT&T for $15, and a full-size one with caller ID and everything for $20. Theirs ran from $5 – $20. The green one shown here was $20! (It is pretty cute, but whatever.) Because the technology has not changed, it’s conceivable that you want a super cheap phone for infrequent use for $5, and, if so, you might want to stop by.

controllers2. Videogames and consoles. Based on the rest of their pricing, I doubt anything was an especially great deal, but if you happen to be looking for something specific and find it easier to shop in person, it might be worth stopping in.

What to avoid:

lamps_smallerLamps. The guy at the store quoted me a range of prices for lamps between $65 and $100, and there wasn’t a single lamp in there worth that. Most didn’t even have shades. I was told these two gold-toned ones with shades in the back row were $100 each, which is a pretty absurd price for a used lamp that has no particular vintage appeal. You could get a ton of modern lamps that are comparable or even better new from Lamps Plus. This is especially galling when Council Thrift next door had many nicer lamps which were all a lot cheaper. You can generally count on getting a usable lamp with a shade at Council Thrift for $25.

butter_dish_smallDishes. They didn’t have a lot of dishes, but this butter dish which is not of particularly good quality was $5.00, which is way too much. Again, this is bad pricing is especially conspicuous since you can simply go next door and have a much wider variety of dishes available to you at a much better price point.

And almost everything else.

IMG_20151011_133408241DVDs were between $2 and $5, especially galling since the next day I saw new DVDs at Target for $4.75 apiece (obviously they might not be the movies you want, but the point stands.) Vinyl records were between $2 and $5 each. Since none were marked, it was too much trouble to figure out what they thought was worth $5, but I truly hope it didn’t include the Flashdance album I saw. Given that the collection was clearly a random selection and not curated at all, that is well above the standard thrift store price of $1 each.

treasure_Island_smaller2In short, Treasure Island would have to really step up their game to justify their prices, should do a better job of curating their items, and should stop trying to charge Etsy-high prices on the few unusual vintage items they have. Until then, do your thrifting elsewhere.


Link Roundup

What’s coming up on SYDW: I am interviewing a few places in the U.S. that accept gently used school supplies to see what they need. I am also eating expired food all week to show that those dates on food are not as hard and fast as you might think. Later today, I plan on drinking some super old hot chocolate with expired soy milk. Yum! I will give you the full report later.

Even though I just added my Stuff You Don’t Want Twitter account, it’s already been super useful. I’ve been following Waste Nothing— a more robust, searchable version of Stuff You Don’t Want, and already used them to find out a place to drop off my used corks. After a few confusing phone calls with the staff at Nordstorm in Santa Monica, I learned that the customer service desk will happily receive them. You can also search Recork directly for this info. I also recently added a medicine bottles listing on this site, if you have a pile of those laying around.

My friend, Moira, passed this link on to me from Gizmodo about this contraption which removes pollution from the air, creating jewelry from the waste. It’s like every interest I have rolled into one! My boyfriend, Nic, passed this article on to me about repairing items in the Wall Street Journal, which was a great read. And my brother, Dave, noted that this chef, Dan Barber, is all about not wasting food, and there was a big story about him on NPR.

How I Thrift: Katie Papp, Chicago

How I Thrift is a brand new feature where I interview experienced thrifters from throughout the United States to get their insights and local IMG_1740tips. Katie Papp, my very first interview, is a friend and former co-worker who lives in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood (three blocks from the Obamas) and runs Always Hungry Chicago. You can follow Always Hungry Chicago and her personally on Instagram.

When did you start thrifting, and why?

I’ve been thrifting with my mom since I was a little girl, and started going on my own when I was in college in 2001. I was really interested in vintage purses, and at one time I had a collection of over thirty-five from the ’70s pic4and ’80s. Currently I hit the thrift store for home furnishings. Mid-century modern design is my favorite and thrift stores are the best place to find pieces from that period at a reasonable price. It also makes me feel better about my personal carbon footprint when I buy used.

Where do you thrift shop?

pic3I grew up in Waukegan, a suburb of Chicago about thirty-five miles north of the city.  Even though I live in Chicago now, I still thrift up there. The prices are way better and there is less competition for the good furniture. My two favorite places to go are Community Thrift Store and B-Thrifty, located only a few blocks from each other.

What kind of things do you try and buy used?

Pic2I go for homewares these days. If you’ve ever had to furnish an entire apartment from scratch like I have, you know that it can cost a lot of money for everyday necessities like forks and spoons if you buy new. I have a collection of vintage drinking glasses and I’m always looking for unique designs. Right now I’m also on the hunt for Mid-century modern furniture pieces, specifically dressers for our bedroom and a new coffee table. My last pick up was a vintage radio that we keep in the kitchen.

Do you have any general tips for anyone without much thrifting experience? Any warnings?

Pic1My biggest tip is to not be turned off by the smell and the dust. I suggest going for items made out of glass, wood or metal if you’re looking for homewares because they’re super simple to clean. If you’re looking at chairs, reupholstering usually can be done pretty easily and totally transforms the look of the piece. Keep in mind that not everything at a thrift store is old or junky. Oftentimes you can find brand new items there.

I’m not only a frequent thrift store purchaser but I am a frequent thrift store donator. Every few months I go through my own and donate items, mostly clothes, that I don’t use anymore.


A few notes from Katie on the pics:


#1 Mid-century modern Dresser. This dresser is my pride and joy. We use it as a TV stand and to store random things. The best part is I only spent $30 on it.

#2 Couch and record cabinet. I purchased the couch off Craigslist for $250. I usually wouldn’t buy a used couch, but the seller had used it to stage apartments so it was never in a home where people lived. I bought the record cabinet a few days after Christmas last year after my boyfriend gave me a new record player as a gift. We stopped in the thrift store on a whim on our way home from my parents house and got it for $13!

#3 Panasonic radio. Purchased at an antique store in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, this summer. I almost bought a brand new vintage-inspired radio for three times the price. So glad I waited!

#4 Plant stand and books. This is an old wire reel that I purchased at a thrift store for $1. I painted it light gray and use it as a plant stand. On top of the radiator are various books purchased at a used book stores. I never buy new books, always used. (Even when I purchase books on Amazon!)


Thrift Store Review: Finders Keephers in Manhattan Beach

Finders Keephers_smallI’m going to say right off that I am not the perfect person to review Finders Keephers, and it’s not really a thrift store but a consignment store for designer clothes and accessories. However, I thought I’d mix it up in the interest of variety, and I will proceed as best as I can.

This is a small, well-curated store for the person who wants a gently used Tory Burch dress for $150. Are you that person? It stocks women’s clothing, shoes, jewelry, and lots and lots of purses. In general, my experience is that you pay a premium buying this stuff in person over ebay or other online outlet, but let’s review and you can decide for yourself.

Overall rating: C+

They really only have the four items, so let’s break them down.

1. Clothes. They have a lot of jeans for you if your waist size is between 25 and 28 inches, which I realize is not most people. They had a pBCBG jacket_78_smallair of Lucky jeans for $50 (honestly, they have sales that good for new pairs) and a pair of new-with-tags jeans from Bergdorf’s also for $50, when the original price was $269.00 That said, I’m not sure how old they were. They also had a cute BCBG jacket for $78, which was in excellent condition, but I found a comparable new one on sale for $159. Half price for used is not what I call a good deal. Overall, they did have quite a few new-with-tags items, though, so it may be worth it to you if you find the right thing.

2. Shoes. These used Pucci shoes were selling for $240, and Pucci_240_smallwithout any trouble whatsoever I located a comparable used pair online for $110, literally half that. I’d be willing to pay a little more locally, since it’s less hassle, and you save on shipping, but that’s a massive difference, and not unusual for consignment shops, in my experience. Similarly, I saw a pair of gray wool (?) Louboutin pumps for $750, and The Real Real offers shoes from the maker for around $400. (Again, I’m not an expert, so maybe the gray ones are especially collectible. But they weren’t even in pristine shape.)

3. Jewelry. Some of the stuff looked really dated to me. I Tiffany necklace_smalldid notice a fairly generic Tiffany silver heart necklace, but I’m not sure who would prefer a used Tiffany necklace for $160 over a brand new heart necklace (obviously a different style) from Tiffany’s for $225, if all you’re trying to do is get something in one of those aqua boxes.


4. Purses. They had a very good selection, some new-with-tags. This Francesco Biasca bag was $260 (originally almost $500, according to the tag) but there are many more inexpensive bags by the same maker on Tradesy Francesco_Biasca_smallfor considerably less.Overall, it’s a very lovely store in a neighborhood that’s hard to park in where you’ll pay somewhat more than you really have to. If you’re not a fan of online shopping, it’s an okay option.

Link Roundup

SYDW now has a Twitter account. Please follow me, because right now my only follower’s are my sister-in-law and the LADWP, and it’s lonely over there. I haven’t gotten up to speed on the whole thing yet, but I will. And then you can brag about getting in on the ground floor!

I am always looking on the lookout for fellow Angelenos who have an interest in used goods, and this week I happened upon the lifestyle blog of my (in a big picture kind of way) neighbor, Justina, at The Jungalow. She is a lifestyle/DIY blogger with an interest in thrifting, as DIY bloggers tend to be, and has a list of recommended thrift stores that overlap with some I’ve already done reviews for on this site. It’s so pretty it’s worth a look even if you’re too incompetent to do any of her projects, like I am!

Santa Monica is having a citywide yard sale on September 26th. If you live there, you can register your yard sale here. If you live nearby, definitely stop by on that day — Santa Monica is plenty posh, and there are sure to be deals.

Live in L.A. and not sure which days you’re supposed to water? Check out this handy chart, which lays out the schedule by odd or even numbered houses.

I was reading this essay by a former social worker about one of her former clients, and, as an aside she notes that, like most foster kids, he would move his belongings from home to home in a garbage bag. It gives me a chance to remind you that there is an organization called Suitcases for Kids that collects suitcases for foster kids because most foster kids end up transporting their belongings in garbage bags. If there isn’t anyone collecting them near you, consider starting a drive with your local Scout troop or Lions club and donating them to your local social service agency.

My 11947629_10155905973205417_3734541032001477149_nbrother bought several used ties, upon my recommendation, and here they are: $1.49 and $1.99. Eat your heart out! Or, better yet, snag a few used ones for yourself at your local thrift store!