Sunday, February 24, 2013

Competitive Thrift

I told you I was competitive, and it has its drawbacks. My desire to win comes out when shopping the curb, a yard sale or Goodwill. Sometimes I compete with myself and sometimes I pit myself against the seller, but add another shopper to the equation (if I even suspect they might want what I want) and the will to win kicks into overdrive.

It happened one day at a yard sale about a year or so ago. I drove up to a driveway laden with the cool treasures that only come by way of an older couple who's lived in the same place for years (on second thought, it could also come by way of a junker that goes to yard sales each week) and my eye immediately saw the telltale signs of a midcentury piece, with its sleek pointy legs, smack dab in the middle of the driveway. I quickened my pace, made a beeline and gave it the once over. What from the road appeared to be some sort of radio or stereo was actually a little organ on legs. Something about the look of it called from my past, not that I had ever seen one of them before, but the feel of it was reminiscent of a huge speaker we had in our home in my early days. That's all it takes to start a little love affair.

Had no one else been in the vicinity, I may have thought about it's definitive 50's styling and the fact that it was, after all, an organ, which I had absolutely no need of or place for, and moved on. But wouldn't you know, a guy came over with great interest and began inspecting it and asking about it, seeming interested, and in my mind became an immediate threat to my discovery, the unearthing of my past. He became a competitor who might snag a treasure toward which my heart had immediately developed a vintage crush.

I asked the woman if it worked, and she took it to the garage, plugged it in and proceeded to play it. Cool. No, I don't know how to play and neither does anyone at my house, but wouldn't the little nieces and nephews have fun with it when they come over? Sure. It was a piece of the past I suddenly felt I needed to own, but infinitely more so because that man was admiring it. My protective guard was up and I jumped into action.

The seller wanted $35 for it, and that could have been my saving grace, but the man proceeded to pluck the keys and admire the thing, so I had to go and blab out quickly, "would you take $25? The woman paused to work the price out in her mind and accepted. Score! Sort of. I suddenly had the sense to show some decorum and ask the man if he was interested in it. "Oh, no, he replied. It's cool, but I just buy jewelry." Dang! Suddenly, the vintage crush waned a little. And, I didn't have $25. Not only would I have to pay way more than my garage sale limit of $5 per item, but I would have to leave, drive to the ATM and come back, thereby wasting precious yard sale time.

But I did, and the organ came home with me, where it has been taking up precious space ever since. While it's been used by the nieces and nephews a couple of times, it's taken up room I need for other things and added to the general disorganization of the loft room as seen previously here:

What's worse, when I brought home the big metal (and heavy) letters and set some of them there in the room where the organ was, one of them fell over one day and it wasn't until weeks later that I realized that the letter had broken one of the keys on the right hand side of the organ. Will that teach me? I'm gonna guess, no, because it was just last week that I entered Goodwill and succumbed in some sense to competitive thrift once again.

I came home with these. Yeah, sure, they're pretty and all, but not a pattern I would choose for myself in a world full of incredible patterns. However, I was at Goodwill where they have what they have and when I spot a cute enough tea cup, I think, oh, I should get that. One set at a time, it doesn't seem outrageous. Well, I saw they had two cups and quite a few more saucers, AND they had the lunch plates, a big bonus which upped the "gotta have it" factor. Hmmm... a set. That doesn't seem to happen too often at our Goodwill. I wondered if I shouldn't have it because if I didn't someone else would. Here's where I think one must consider the psychology of thrifty competition. There comes a point where thrifty hunts have the propensity to turn into ridiculousness. This was one of those times. The fact is, the sets were cool and all, but basically I think I just wanted to win. I went about hunting for the missing cups, but they were no where to be found.

Well, what do you know... since I wasn't sure I needed two tea cups and saucers and lunch plates, I strolled and thought and counted the cost of not only the china but also the other items. I carted those babies around the store, battling against reason and questioning which was more important, getting out of the store with money in my pocket or making sure that someone else didn't get those tea cups, saucers and plates. I kid you not, I wandered that store for over an hour (it's not that big either) and eventually the other two cups magically appeared front and center of the shelf where they had not been previously. Either someone else had been carting them around or a worker just came and put more out while I wasn't looking. Great. Now I had to make a decision, and the cost of four was over the top by my standards. After all, this wasn't a yard sale, it was Goodwill. They wanted more than I would ever pay at a garage or yard sale, but four sets was something that seemed not only pretty, but practical, and I rarely see more than one matching cup and saucer there at a time. There was a fifth lunch plate and more saucers, but the missing cup stayed missing. Maybe it had broken prior to their arrival at the store, but darn if I didn't spend another half hour searching for that cup on every shelf, just in case. You know how matches can be found just about anywhere in Goodwill.

In the end, I sprung for all four and an extra saucer and plate. (Don't ask! I have no rartional explanation.)

I also came home with two French White style soufflé dishes made in France, a souvenir plate from California and a white tote box with a handle. I left the store loaded down with bags and feeling a whole lot unthrifty. I honestly sort of thought while I was at the store that the brown around the rim of the soufflé dishes was part of the design. Ha! Of course it was baked on soufflé. I have since worked the magic eraser and several scraping implements and managed to get just about all of it off.

After my thrifty competition gone awry (according to my cheap standards) I went into super over-thrift mode this week. The pendulum swung, and I was not going to allow anyone to get me to buy something for even $1 more than I wanted to pay. The result? I came home from yesterday's sales with one book for 50¢ and a tomato plant lattice tree thingy that I got for free out of someone's trash. I'll show you that in a sec.

So my thrifty competition with myself got the best of me. You see, there was a woman at one yard sale who had a perfectly cool rusty metal and glass lantern that would have complimented the ones I got a few weeks ago (those I scored 2 for $3.00). This lady wanted $3 for just the one, and having scored better before, I couldn't justify the expense (I know, you're saying, "really, Liz?" Yeah, I'm saying that now too.) I asked if she'd take $2.00, but she merely repeated  "$3.00" with a sharp tone. I was not willing to be bested, so I did not buy it. Yes, I'm thrifty AND stubborn. Of course, I've been thinking of the cool lantern constantly since. That'll teach me... or not...because I proceeded to leave there, go to another sale where a guy had a ladder exactly the size I wanted for my patio (to put more plants on), but the $3.00 he wanted just seemed like too much too. Clearly the psychology of thrifty competition is tricky business with me.

No doubt I will find another ladder some other day, but finding that lantern ever again at that price is extremely unlikely. Then again, one never knows, does one?

Meanwhile, I have a feeling I will survive just fine with the lanterns I have. The good news is that now I have an extra $6.00 to spend another day or that I can put (in my mind) toward the overspending I did on tea cups, saucers and plates that day at Goodwill. 

Here's the tomato support I got out of the trash:

This will come in handy because my friend, Lynn, gave me a Home Depot gift certificate as a gift for Christmas and I can finally buy a viney flowering plant and have something for it to grow on. Yay!

The finial thingy on the top was white, which is nice and all, but I still had some pink paint left.

Oh, yeah, that's right!

I continued the pink painting streak and painted it with my raspberry chalk paint, plain raspberry, white and coral combo. It'll look pretty out on the patio with all my flowers.

I wasn't done with that paint though. I had enough left to cover one more thing. That one may have proven to be a bit too big of a piece to carry off such a bold color, but then again, I think the upbeat style of pink may be growing on me. Look out!

I'll have to show you that piece another time. For now, stay thrifty, and may you manage your sense of competitive thrift with more aplomb than I did this week!

Stop over and visit these fun parties:
Ivy and Elephants

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special

French Country Cottage



mop it up mondays

The Chicken Chick


  1. funny stuff... I can't tell you how many times I buy something in fear that if I don't it won't be there when I come back. mistakes ... I'm still learning!

  2. Every junker brings home an occasional "organ". Something you regret what you paid for it and that you didn't really need it and sometimes didn't really even like it!

  3. sometime it's the treasure rush :) maybe you can re-sell the organ...even if for $25

  4. I love the dishes! Hey, they have pink in them. :) I'm going to our GW tomorrow. Haven't been in about a year. It's in the town I worked in (35 miles away), so I don't go regularly since I retired, heck I haven't been since I retired. It's time. Hope I find some great treasures. We'll see. Have a fab week!

  5. I get like that, too. It's a sickness, I tell ya.
    I'm loving your pink phase!
    And I'm laughing at the dried on souffle residue. LOL!

  6. You had me laughing all through this post. I love your competitive, but determined thrifting spirit. Love those dishes and...that awesome organ!!

  7. Have you inhabited my body and mind when I'm in the antique shop near my house?! I do the walking around thing all the time while I decide if I should part with the money I shouldn't be spending on old junk. It is a disease and we are fueling each other on by showcasing all the cool stuff we find on our blogs! By the way, your cups and saucers photograph really well, so they were definitely worth the money you spent on them. :)

  8. First, I love the organ. My granny had one just like it and we played it constantly though none of us knew one note of music. Second, speaking as a woman who fed her husband take-out Chinese on leftover paper Christmas plates with a plastic fork, I love that set of china. I do not like pink floral dishes, but the china appeals to me. I cannot imagine ever putting together an entire set of four at our GW. They separate cups, saucers, and plates into different areas. Why? Third, the tomato stake is way, way cool in pink raspberry deliciousness.

    Don't you wish that thrifting was an Olympic sport? I know one of us would take a medal. (Probably right from the hands of another competitor!)

  9. Hi Liz, I know exactly that same feeling. I will ponder and ponder over something, then when I think some one else may want it, I will quickly snatch it up! Love all the dishes and the reddish finial looks great that color! xo Pam

  10. Hi LIz - well I think we're all a little beyond the realm of normal LOL - I would do the same ( except for that organ - think I could have walked by that one LOL )
    But those dishes are soooo pretty!!!
    And loving that plant thingamajig!

  11. Ah, Liz I CANNOT LAUGH AT YOU...only with~been there. I find myself in a fav spot or new fav market and didn't know I LOVED SOMETHING until i JUST HAD TO HAVE IT...I have heard they have clinics to treat people like us. :^(


  12. forgot to mention...the cups/saucers etc make a won der ful picture though!

  13. I am just so jealous that you have garage sales in your area this time of year. I can hardly wait until it's that time of year for us here in MT!

  14. Oh you crack me up. I think you need to make yourself a 'Stay Thrifty' button for your blog. With a lizard. :) Great finds, love the pink on your tomato cage, and I'm still laughing at Bliss's comment. :)

  15. That's me at auctions, I'm like, "they can't get that great piece for that, we gotta big on it!" Oh my, I'm dangerous! Love your dishes and the tomato support is the new color!

  16. You are so funny! I have done that too. I don't need, don't know how to use, no where to put it......but the minute someone even looks at it..MINE! I wish I had that loft room! We have NO extra space or an extra room whatsoever in our house! Oh well, it would probably be filled so tight we couldn't even get in there anyway if I have my won room! :) Your dishes are beautiful Great photos of them!

  17. Great finds. Gives me the desire to go hunting :)
    I love the tea cups and the tomato cage so much!
    Thanks for linking!

  18. You seem to find the coolest things when you are out. i just don't have the space for anything more and I am trying to redo what I have. I shopped my attic over the weekend and found an old quilt I had forgotten and put it on the dining room table. Of course, when my son dropped by he asked if we had now taken to sleeping on the table. He just doesn't get my "quirky" (sorry that I had to steal your word) decorating.

  19. Thanks for visiting my blog. I love the free tomato stake - great find. I so would have bought the organ thing. I think it is FANTASTIC. You should see my garage full of stuff!!!

  20. My space is limited, no attic or garage so
    my picks must be special..
    Thanks for your sweet comments on my blog
    and happy thrifting.

  21. LOVED THIS POST- - I think you captured thrifting days perfectly, it is an emotional decision-making thing.

    I LOVE those teacups, but then I host tea parties all the time and have been collecting them most of my life - I have never EVER seen sets at any of our GW or thrifts here, so ya "done good."

  22. I look at the organ, and I see parts. I would rip it apart, and make something, or something"s" out of it. But, that's just me. lol

  23. Love the pattern of those cups. By the way, the shopping is never about "need" Somethings are just too prey to leave behind. Have a great week, Laura

  24. This was really a fun read, and my could I identify. Your post is very like the one I just wrote today, about what not to buy. Sometimes we astound ourselves with out unreasoned reasoning, don't we?

  25. I have experienced at bit of that competitive thrift monster myself and I find that the better deal I got on a piece the more I like the piece. Go figure.

  26. Fantastic finds and there's nothing wrong with a little competition now and again.

  27. This was absolutely hilarious, but I just love your tea set. That's my weakness. I would love it if you would share this inspirational post at our WIW Linky Party. It's still open. I hope you can join us.


  28. Hi Liz, I can so relate to what you are saying. Just be glad your impulse buy was only a vintage organ, mine was a sofa! A few weeks back I found a new thrift shop selling furniture etc, and I needed a bookshelf, so one bookshelf, sofa, painting and tea set later....

  29. you crack me up! love how you tell a story, liz!

  30. How funny! Remind me not to get in your way if we ever cross paths at Goodwill! The dishes are really pretty, the organ is "quirky," and the plant support will look fantastic with a pretty vine. Looks like a great haul! Thank you for sharing it at What We Accomplished Wednesdays. Have a great weekend!


  31. Stay thrifty my friend! Oh, I would have bought those teacups and plates! Beautiful! Thank you for joining Home Sweet Home!

  32. Featuring this post today at the Home Sweet Home party! It was just too cute.:)

  33. You are hilarious and I totally understand you...which is kinda scary.

    Ok, so I don't really love those dishes I insisted I had to have...

    Linda at The French Hens Nest

  34. We are joining your blog. Hope you will join us.

    Linda and Jeannie at The French Hens Nest


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