by Diana Bulls
This is one of many Earth Day related articles up in this issue! You can check out all of our going green articles here.
So, Lorie, our esteemed editor and publisher, and I were discussing possible subjects for an article relating to Earth Day, April 22. I guess I am about as “green” as most people. I recycle paper, aluminum and plastic. We went solar two years ago. Last summer we replaced our front lawn with pavers, drought-tolerant native plants and bark. But I was drawing a complete blank as far as something to write about. Of course Lorie had an idea ? that’s why she is our editor and publisher ? write something about our local thrift stores. Brilliant!
Second-hand stores, thrift stores, flea markets, whatever you want to call them, were the original recycling centers. They have been around for quite a while and since the “Great Repression” era, shopping there makes a lot of sense. Besides, you can feel really good about being environmentally responsible since purchasing second-hand means less goes into a landfill. You also have bragging rights when you make the perfect score.
Reedley has six thrift stores, and on a recent Tuesday afternoon I visited four of them. I really meant to get to ALL six, but by the time I left store #4, the other two were closing. You see I sort of forgot I was supposed to be writing an article and got caught up in shopping. More about that later.
The Nearly New Shop has been around for 40 years, according to manager Carol Peters. It is part of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) thrift shop network and supports relief, development and peace efforts around the world. Located at 1022 G Street, the shop is brightly lit and well organized. The staff, all volunteers, are friendly and helpful.
Streetlight Thrift is located right next door at 1024 G Street. Streetlight is a community ministry that was organized in 1982, and provides an outlet for affordable clothes and household items. A satellite store, Streetlight Kids, opened last December on 10th Street. Both stores are staffed by volunteers. There is quite a bit of merchandise crowded into this small store, so you need to take your time when hunting for bargains. Olga Ediger is the manager for Streetlight Thrift.
Second Chance Thrift Store takes up the former storefront that housed Reedley Hardware, the corner of G and 12th streets. Owned by Rito and Esther Rubio of Reedley, it has been open about ten years. This store has good lighting and nice, wide aisles. Seasonal items are prominently displayed in the front of the store or just outside on the sidewalk. Second Chance also sells and repairs appliances.
Iglesia Apostolica opened La Mission Thrift Store about four years ago. The store is located on the old J.C. Penney’s block at 1612 11th Street. Pastor Rodolfo Solis and Brother John were minding the store when I dropped in. Pastor Rodolfo told me that the store has been a blessing to the church’s ministry and outreach. Music was playing in the background, and La Mission looks more like a specialty shop than a thrift store with its acrylic display cases and shelves.
There are two other thrift shops that have opened in the last year. Lost Treasures is located in the former Elks Lodge on the corner of 10th and F streets. The Penny Pincher is at 1255 E. Manning, right next to Big Lots.
I found “collectibles” in all four of the shops I visited, ranging from furniture to glassware and all things in between. Interestingly, both Second Chance and Nearly New had a 1930s dining room table with six chairs for sale. The finish and upholstery of the set at Second Chance was in better shape, but the set at Nearly New was half-price the day I was there. Second Chance also had some great trunks and foot lockers, and an oak school desk.
At La Mission I spotted eight pieces of Vernonware in the brown and yellow Organdy pattern for $2.00 ? a steal! At Second Chance there were five Homer Laughton square dessert plates with a dogwood pattern (c. 1930s-40s) for $4.95 each, and a nice hand painted dish that was made in Japan (c. 1930). I unearthed a smallish 1940s aluminum serving tray at Nearly New. Second Chance had two cardboard soda ads (c. 1940s-50s) for $2.00 each.
Maybe the best find was an embossed “Moriage” dragon design tea pot with six cups and saucers, made in Occupied Japan, at Streetlight. Missing were the cream and sugar bowl, but the group included a miniature cup and saucer in the same design. Now how did that end up at Streetlight?
I’m always curious as to how some things end up in a thrift store, especially old family photos or war medals. Cynthia, who was taking care of the front of the store at Second Chance, told me about a purple heart medal she once sold and she still wonders who it might have belonged to.
Yes, I did buy something. Although I was tempted by the two soda ads, I didn’t take them home. They are still sitting on the front counter. What I did get was a vintage Japanese, red lacquer bowl inlaid with mother of pearl. Did I need it? Probably not, but it is now sitting in the center of my dining room table.
It makes a great cat bed.