They used to be called “second-hand stores,” but now it’s known as a “Thrift Store,” but it’s about a lot more than being “thrifty.” You think shopping at second-hand stores is all about the money? Huh-uh, no way. And Opportunity Village in Las Vegas is the ne plus ultra of thrift stores. You never know what you’re gonna find. (www.opportunityvillage.org)
Last week I walked in the front door and the first thing I saw was a huge display of snow shovels. Yep, right here in the desert. In summer. Big, shiny, sturdy-looking snow shovels. It’s 108 out and summer’s just beginning. Even in winter the mercury seldom dips below 40 and snow? A little flurry every seven years if we’re lucky. Snow shovels. Huh. Well, I suppose if you had a barn full of horses you could use that to shovel … ah, well, I’m pretty sure you could find something. But really, how and why did a gross of snow shovels end up in Las Vegas?
Oh, and here’s an entire shelf of mosquito repellent and citronella candles. Hellooo … not a lot of ‘squitoes here in the desert. Maybe a shipment destined for Minnesota went astray. It happens with luggage — why not?
Yesterday I was looking at rugs, turned around and nearly tripped over a cement mixer. What? There might’ve been a market for that back in the the day when The Mob ran the town. You know, cement shoes, Lake Mead, that sorta thing?
Well of course there are clothes, too, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a kick out of scoring a pair of pairs of designer jeans for less than $10. I mean a two pair — oh, you know what I mean. And they actually fit! This might not be a problem for guys, but a few years back some clever clogs in the jean-manufacturing business came up with the idea of jeans that are low in front. I’ve been told the purpose is to show off the belly button rings. Really? That’s why people like me who have neither belly-button rings nor tattoos shop at second-hand stores for jeans that are made for grown-ups.
But it’s not just the entertainment factor and the clothes that I go for — there’s more — much more!
I’ve picked up several crystal — yes, real crystal — wine glasses for $1 each. And how about this gorgeous heavy vase from Hoosier Glassworks. $4.99? It is definitely worth something. Gotta snag that. (When I got home, I Googled it and found yes, it is definitely worth something. It was listed on-line for, uh $4.99. Well, at least I didn’t have to pay for shipping. Sigh.)
Skirting the furniture section I find a whole rack of thick, terrycloth bathrobes — $4.99. Who cares if it has a hotel name embroidered across the pocket? When the hotels and casinos make changes, they send their old stuff to Opportunity Village. When Caesars or the MGM Grand remodel their guest rooms, Opportunity Village is suddenly full of barely-used furniture at, well, thrift-store prices. Okay, you might not want a coffee table with the MGM lion etched into the glass, but let’s just call it a “collector’s item.”
Last summer there was a huge bin overflowing with king-size sheets at 99 cents each. I bought a bunch. Now my cats can lounge on the living room couch and when I have company, I simply whip off the sheets so my guests can sit on fur-free furniture. (It’s really pretty embarrassing to tell your guest their rear end is covered with black fur…)
And sometimes it’s like from my lips to God’s ears. One evening I was looking for a book of matches to light a candle. NO matches. None. I looked everywhere — the kitchen drawer, old purses, jackets I hadn’t worn in ages … no luck. That very weekend, I walked into Opportunity Village and lo-and-behold, there were huge cartons of matchbooks — one of the hotels was changing its logo and the old matchbooks had to go. I bought a box of 50 matchbooks for 25 cents — enough matches to last the rest of my life.
Then there was the time my friend Jean was visiting and wandered into the “drug store” aisle. She supports a charity clinic in Nicaragua. “Will you look at this?” Jean asked as she picked up shrink-wrapped brick of 12 boxes of aspirin. “Oh, cool,” I said glancing at it. “No,” she said, “LOOK at this.” She was pointing to the price sticker. $1.99. We looked at each other. “It can’t be $1.99 for the entire thing — it must be $1.99 for each box.” She took it to the cash register. It rang up at $1.99. $1.99 for twelve bottles of aspirin, less than .10 each! Jean and I filled a shopping cart and she sent enough aspirin to supply everyone in the country of Nicaragua with aspirin for the next 5 years. Way to go, Opportunity Village!
So, yes, we’re talking bargains, but we’re also talking just strolling and trolling. You want a vinyl record of Christmas songs by Johnny Cash? They got it. You want some Wilson Staff golf clubs circa 1980? They got those, too. You want picture frames, crystal wine glasses, televisions, stereos, wheelchairs, stuffed animals? It’s all there along with a bunch of other stuff you never dreamed of. Best free entertainment in town.
And Wednesday is Senior Discount Day. HEY — today’s Wednesday — what am I doing sitting here? Bargains await. Maybe I’ll find some canning jars so I can make more apricot jam, but if not, maybe I’ll just settle for a pair of skis.