In much the same way you don’t start your career as a pianist playing Carnegie Hall, you would be well-advised to start your thrifting journey somewhere other than Valley Value Center. Not because it isn’t worth your time, but because it requires a stamina and commitment that newbies may not possess. It occupies a former Circuit City location, and is suitably vast. This Saturday it was filled with throngs of shoppers all chasing the elusive dream of finding an item of value that did not bear a red tag, which would mean an additional 50% off.
The prices were quite fair at Valley Value, and, judging by the Yelp comments, there were some serious deals to be had if you invest the time to dig. (A Vera Wang wedding dress was mentioned.) Unfortunately, also judging from the Yelp comments, it has an incredibly rude and/or accusatory staff, and quite possibly a pickpocketing problem. I left unmolested with my wallet intact, but a fellow shopper commented to me, after I asked her about the lack of dressing room, “if you knew what went on in there before, you’d be glad there wasn’t one anymore.” I didn’t have the heart to pursue this thread any further, but I will caution you to guard your money and wear a tight-fitting outfit so you can try on clothes over it.
Parking was easy, and they made continual announcements about sales in both English and Spanish, which was a nice touch. One minor drawback: they take cash only, so be prepared! A big shoutout to my friends Sonia and Jorge who came with me. Overall rating: B+
What to buy:
1. Golf Clubs. I don’t know if they always have golf clubs, but they had quite a few to choose from when we were there. Jorge noted that they were common brands, like Callaway, and started at around $9.00. I know golfing technology is always advancing, but this might be a decent option for someone new to the sport, especially since used options online would be prohibitively expensive to ship.
2. Books. They had a big section and most were priced at $1.95 or $2.95. As you might expect, it was a fairly contemporary selection, though I managed to pick up two 19th century schoolbooks and a Theodore Dreiser short story collection from 1929, which I look forward to reading. They were $2.95 apiece.
3. Paintings/Wall Hangings. I’m not saying everything in this category was pure gold, but the price was always right, and the inventory was extensive. I found stuff for as little as $2.99, including this picture for $7.99. Beats looking at a crack in the wall.
4. Stuffed Animals. Stuffed animals are one of those things, like bras, that you have to either be on a serious budget or have an incredible commitment to recycling to get on board with. A stuffed animal in a thrift store always looks somewhere between sad and eerie, like a stock photo that accompanies a story on abducted children. Surprisingly, though, Valley Value manages to rise above this. All their stuffed toys appeared clean and even cheerful, and they sold entire bags of them for $2.00 apiece. If those kids are young enough, they’ll never know the difference, anyway. Now you can save your money for beer, parents.
5. Linen. They had an extensive collection of bedsheets which were clean and in good condition. Most were selling for $4.99. It’s tough to get a set of twin sheets from TJ Maxx for less than $19.99. Research brand names before you go. The low thread count sheets from Target are labeled Threshold, and Walmart’s label is Mainstays, so avoid those and go big, though that’s most of what you’ll see. Get some Tahari or Max Studio if you can! You deserve it.
6. Sleeping Bags. They had quite a few, including kids’ ones, mostly featuring Disney themes, for $3.99, whereas the cheap new ones at Toys R Us are $19.99. That seems like a pretty good deal to me, unless your 8-year-old needs to break out the high-end stuff to summit Mt. Everest.
7. Specialty Appliances. As I have told you before, you are crazy to buy a cupcake maker new. Perhaps you are crazy to buy one at all, but I’m not prepared to get that judgy. Most of them are cheapish $19.99 things, like mini pizza makers, which sell for $5.99, but there are nicer things like this Oster waffle maker, which went for more.
What to avoid:
Jewelry. It was all really cheap stuff, and by cheap I don’t mean inexpensive. I’m not going to tell you not to buy it, but it’s no great shakes.
All in all, definitely worth a visit, though Valley Thrift suffers from the classic low-end thrift store habit of overpricing anything that they think is decent (like these new with tags Anne Klein pants for $19.95. Again with the Anne Klein. I don’t get it.)
I got three books, a jewelry box, and an unopened puzzle for $17.00. And the grammar book, formerly owned by one long gone Edna Gast, had this classic turn-of-the-century phrase written on page 212: “If this book should happen to roam, give it a kick and send it home to Edna.” I think it’s too late for that, but I hope she had a good life full of proper comma usage.
If you know of any great thrift stores that sell antique tools, or are interested in tool restoration, check out Jorge’s You Tube channel and leave a comment.