Monday, April 2, 2012

Thrifty Finds: A Cautionary Tale

I'm linking up with Magpie Monday over at Me & My Shadow, Thrift Share Monday at Apron Thrift Girl, and my newest find, Flea Market Finds at Her Library Adventures.

First let me recap my plea for help identifying this lamp.  Take a moment, if you will, and see if you can add to my knowledge about it.

Ok, today's post is subtitled "A Cautionary Tale".  I had a little giggle at my own expense this weekend, and I thought it might be helpful to some of you, and amusing to others, to hear about my trouble.

My daughter, Rachel, was competing in a pistol shooting competition this weekend, down in Little Rock (her team won second place, and first place was another team from our club.  yea!!)  Little Rock is almost 3 hours from my home, but I travel there relatively frequently, since Husband is an elected official, and that's our state capital.  Whenever I go I try to hit a few thrift stores.  There are two Savers nearby, and a few smaller thrifts.  After Rachel shot on Saturday morning, I hopped in the car and zoomed into town to look for Pyrex and other treasure at Savers.  I didn't buy anything, but at the end of this post I'll include a few pics of some pretties I passed.

Anyway, driving from the relatively rural area where the shooting competition was to downtown Little Rock I passed several yard sale signs.  Now I don't usually pass yard sale signs, but I was trying to make sure I got back before the awards were handed out, so pass them I did.  One in particular caught my eye, because it was far from the city, and looked like the type of sale that might have old dishes.  I decided to stop on the way back from Savers, but since it was already after noon I was afraid it would be closed up.  I took a quick turn around Savers, saw nothing I couldn't live without, and headed back.  I was thrilled to find the sale was still open, but when I got out and began to look around I saw that I had been way off on my prediction of old dishes.

Just as I was about to settle for a .50 item to avoid the awkwardness of leaving a lonely sale without making a purchase, I spotted it.

Yeah.  A nesting doll.  Rebekah collects nesting dolls.  We love nesting dolls.  I grabbed it up, thinking the price sticker said $1.  On turning it a bit, I saw that it said $10.  Oh.  I can't pay $10.  Not a a yard sale.  It's just not in me.  I opened it, and discovered this.

Oh boy.  It was a Wizard of Oz nesting doll set.  There was Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and little Toto.  Sigh.  The lady having the sale said, "That's an antique.  It's from Germany."  I replied, "It's darling.  My youngest daughter collects nesting dolls."  I still had it in my hand, because I really, really liked it.  I was not surprised by her statement about it being an antique from Germany, because I had looked at many nesting doll sets online, and knew that such a thing existed.  She said, "How much do I have on it?"  I told her, and she said, "You can have it for $5."  Now that was more my speed.  I had no desire to treat her unfairly, and no plan to ask her to go down on the price.  I would have left without it, though.  She had some lovely, healthy hostas in pots for $1, so I bought several of those along with the doll set.  I think we were both happy.

I headed back to the shooting competition, pondering the nesting set.  I had seen some with characters that were over $200, and I knew if this set was worth that much I'd have to think for awhile about when to give it to Bekah.  She has an amazingly detailed set from Russia that is not to be played with, and I was prepared to put this set on the shelf with that one.  I needed to get back to the competition site, access the wifi on my iPod, and check this out.

I found a quiet corner, pulled the set from my bag, turned it over, and saw this.

Wow.  Seriously.  Folks, this is not my first rodeo.  I have been thrifting/yard saling for more than two decades.  I am the person other people call to ask thrifting questions.  And yet there it was.  A price sticker.  $13.90.  I peeled it back and saw this.

Made in China.  Not Germany.

I'm not going to lie.  I was somewhat stunned.  I didn't really care that it wasn't an antique, or that it wasn't made in Germany.  I did care that I had overlooked this, and I cared a bit that the seller had been so wrong.  (i am not saying she was deceitful.  if she had intended to deceive, surely she would have removed the stickers.)

As I pondered the depths of my oversight, I saw this.


Yeah. Some fairly serious damage.

Again, I was not upset that the set wasn't valuable, or even that it was damaged.  I was confused and irritated at my failure to notice.  As I pondered my error, this blog post took shape.  There was a kind of blindness that overcame me as I held something I really, really liked.  I failed to look at the actual item, and instead saw only what I "thought" I was seeing.  This isn't the first time this has happened.  I have purchased dishes that I was over the moon about, only to get them home and discover large chips.  Or a serving set that is actually missing a piece.  A leather purse with a torn lining.  Whatever it is, it's the same lesson:  I got so excited about what I thought I had, that I failed to see what I actually had.  I am not one to spend more than a few dollars on most thrifted items, so the sting is rarely financially motivated.  It is simply an embarrassment/confusion over my own myopathy.

The lesson that I hope novice thrifters (and maybe some veterans like myself??) will take from this my mistake is this:  Stop.  Look.  Examine the piece carefully.  Turn it over.  Run your finger along the edge.  If you find something negative it doesn't mean you can't buy it and love it, it just means you won't get a nasty surprise later.  If I had seen the price sticker I wouldn't have hesitated to ask the seller to take less.  Since I didn't see it, if she hadn't offered to take less, and I had left without this set, I would probably still be kicking myself.  I hope that I, as much as any of you, will remember this lesson.

**** If you know Rebekah, please don't mention this to her.  I won't be giving it to her right away.****

And on a lighter note, here are the lovelies that I did not buy at the Little Rock Savers.

Fireking (i'm guessing) round casserole
cute mid century footstool
Temperware Fall Bounty
Fireking (i'm guessing) vegetable pattern
kicking myself a bit here, chrome Sunbeam Mixmaster $15


  1. Oh no!!

    I bet you were kicking yourself.

    I've had this happen too, and you're so right. Sometimes you're so blinded by something you *must* have, you don't notice it's faults :0(

  2. HAHAHAH This was hilarious although very unfortunate for you. This is something I've been reminding myself of as well lately. It's heartbreaking to have to put something back.

  3. Ouch I feel your pain... I too have been blinded by excitement, but I was better this past weekend- going to a corner to review and inspect before I pay.This time I eliminated 2 items that had major flaws. Luckily you only paid $5, I'm sure people have made bigger more painful expensive mistakes. Live and always learn I guess. Nice post :)

  4. Thanks for your very informative reminder and I especially thank you for the kind viewpoint you had of the woman you bought from. I like your attitude and believe for this tip and your neighborly rationale, the thrift gods will smile BIG time on you next time.

  5. You have put into words how stunned I have felt sometimes when I got my "treasure" out of the bag/box to look at when I got home....what was I thinking? and how did I not see whatever flaw is looking at me right now?
    Seriously though...that Mixmaster is the bomb! and that MCM stool would be under my feet right now!

  6. I know I've done the same thing too - in the excitement of thinking I found such a great item, I buy it with wild abandon and then get home - something wrong with it!!! We'll learn.....

    The dish on the top left that you left behind - it is Pyrex - Square Flowers is the pattern.

  7. Oh - I know just how you feel.....and it's not a nice feeling. all you can do is laugh and be more determined to be careful the next time. The excitement of the moment.

  8. i have had the same moments, but hey we live and we learn

  9. Oh man, I've been there and fairly recently too. I've been feeling pretty dumb over a cobalt blue glass plate and dome that turned out to be painted and flaking, rather than the blue glass I thought it was:(

  10. Been there, done that, too. I couldn't have passed up the mix master...oh, and I collect peach lustre fire king (my husband's grandmother gave me her huge collection from the early 30s/40s) and use it for Thanksgiving Holiday. :)