I’m Thrifting Again.

(Edited to say: Wow. I admit that the story set up on this post is long before you even get to a picture, but so worth the wait. Don't peek ahead at the photos or you'll spoil the surprise. Ready? Go!)

I broke my fast.

I went thrifting. And it was wonderful. (I know, I know. I swore it off. Back when everything that wasn't nailed down was leaving with a one-way ticket to said thrift store.) But I got the itch. I'm not sure what fired me up. Maybe contemplating finding some wee stocking stuffers for the holidays or the sweater I desperately wanted to get me through the winter.

So I went for it. And I found a couple of wee kid gifts. And my new favorite sweater. And Pete's brand spanking new Mountainsmith lumbar pack (for a mere $1.99, the likes of which I looked up on-line and contemplated buying new just three days before). But those were nothing. Nothing I tell you. Because I scored. In a big way.

But before I share the day's loot with you, I need to tell you a story.

When I was a child the Thanksgiving and Christmas table at my grandparents' house was always set with my grandparents china, silver, and a beloved collection of mix-and-match vintage water goblets. The goblets were my sister's and my favorite part of the table setting, and we would agonize each year over who got which goblet. The coveted cabbage glass was the prize that we all wanted each holiday. (Being the little sister I rarely triumphed, but like Pavlov's dogs the deliciousness of winning the cabbage glass once in a while was enough to keep me going.) The goblets signified the holidays and now, in hindsight, also symbolize my Grandmother and who she was to Leah and I.

Fast forward twenty or so years. Through a convoluted (read:sad) story that I won't go into, many of my grandparents treasures were lost after the death of my grandmother. The water goblets (of which Grandma often said, "When I die, those have your name on them!" to me) were among the casualties, sold to an antique collector or some such silliness. And every year, every holiday, I miss the glasses and my Grandma simultaneously. For more than a decade every time I have gone thrifting I have my eyes peeled, searching over the tacky glassware, waiting to discover a glass from Grandma's collection and start rebuilding what was lost. (I found one once seven years ago and gave it to my Mom for Christmas. It was a cabbage glass. She cried.)

On Thursday we enjoyed our Thanksgiving celebration at my sister's house in Milwaukee. As I stirred (and stirred, and stirred) the risotto beside her, Leah and I began reminiscing about the water goblets. "I want to recreate that set," I told her. "Keep your eyes out for them when you're thrifting." (On Thursday. That was Thursday.)

On Saturday Leah and I went out for brunch. We decided to spend the rest of the day thrifting, something we haven't done together for years. We cruised around the South Side of Milwaukee hitting some surreal stores that looked like tornadoes had recently ripped through and thrown most of the merchandise on the floor.

Especially the first stop. We almost didn't go in it was such a mess. But that first stop was the gold mine.

We found lots of random cast off treasures – a pottery chicken, an art deco pitcher, a 1970's crewelwork tree stump. And then we headed to the glassware isle. Twice Leah thought she saw a water goblet from the set, but didn't. And then, as Leah put it, "I though you had a stroke." Because I freaked. There on the shelf of plastic cups and pitchers and ice cube trays was this:


The coveted cabbage glass! But not just one…


Six. Six vintage glass cabbage goblets, haphazardly bundled together with packing tape like some awkward bouquet, bearing a handwritten masking tape price tag: $2.04. For the set. I could not contain myself, nor did I try. Any pride or composure I may have had melted away and I laughed and danced around like a crazy lady in that messed up thrift store. 


Manifestation? Hell yeah. Loving the thrift? Most definitely. I'll be back, freaky south side thrift store.

And Grandma, we miss you. On Thanksgiving and always.

55 thoughts on “I’m Thrifting Again.

  1. brooke says:

    that is a great story! How fantastic! Thrifting is hard to pass by. I still think about the post when you gave it up and think to myself “do I really need that?” So thank you … it has kind of kept me a little bit grounded!

  2. Melissa says:

    Was that freaky south side thrift store Value Village perhaps? I love those stores because they are soooo cheap. I can walk out of there with two big garbage bags of clothes and other random things and spend under $20. The neighborhoods they’re in aren’t great and they have this smell, but oh the deals you can find.

  3. Melodie says:

    That’s so awesome. In the past I collected dishes that my grandparents used too. I ended up letting them go because I didn’t like not having a matching set, but it was hard. I have a scrap of wallpaper from their old house though. 🙂

  4. Cassandra says:

    Awesome! I totally know what you mean. The Childcraft Books from the 50’s at my Grandma’s house met with an unfortunate incident as well. I’ve wanted to buy back the set for a very, very long time. I am thrilled for you!

  5. Rachel Wolf says:

    Wait! No – it was Salvation Army. (They both have a V so I got all a jumbled. Not unlike the store.) Ive only hit the VV on Capitol – never on the South Side. But This Salvation Army was worth a peek if you have some hand sanitizer in your bag.

    ~ Rachel

  6. kate says:

    pretty awesome luck.
    I tried posting on your toothpaste post but couldn’t.
    I just made your toothpaste, out of desperation and procrastination, and didn’t have any of the essential oils, basically I whipped together the oil, water, stevia and dr. B’s peppermint soap. What are the benefits of the oil and how far do you whip it? I have meringue consistency and wondered if it stays that way, if I took it too far, or need to go further? Thanks.

  7. Mary says:

    So great! What a sweet memory!

    By the way, we did make a Thanksgiving tree.. Well, actually, we hung the leaves from my parents 1970’s wagon-wheelish light fixture over the dining room table. (Almost called it a chandelier, but no. not quite. too groovy, and not enough bling.)

    We (Simone is 4, and I) drew leaves on fun, printed cardstock, put a hole thru, and brown yarn to hang. We took them to my Mom and Dad’s and everyone wrote on their own two leaves of what they were thankful for. Some leaves had one word, some were packed with grateful words— ALL were sweet and beautiful. We read them at dessert (4 different kinds of pie- way to go Mom! yummmmm)
    My favorite was “cusinz”, oh and “zebras”… Such thankfulness and joy.

    Thank you for the idea.

    It has become a tradition.

    Thank you for helping us honor the sweet day.

  8. Casey says:

    What a wonderful story. I’m so glad you found a way to honor your Grandma’s memory in such a uniquely “you” way. Happy Holidays.

  9. sherrieg says:

    I am SO excited for you! There is nothing like finding the perfect thrifted thing, and especially something so personally significant to you. I go through the same purging of stuff, and then feel the incredible urge to thrift – but I find that now, I’m much more selective about the things I actually buy. There’s definitely been more going out than coming in our house this year, and it’s fantastic. I had never seen glasses like those before – they’re pretty great. Yay!

  10. Rachel Wolf says:

    I find myself putting plenty of treasures back when I do find myself at a second hand store. I filter and sift after the initial selection. And yes, still more leaving then coming in around here!


  11. Sarah says:

    DELIGHTFUL! I have a similar “lost treasure” story…my grandma had a collection of trivets, one of which I just adored. It was a cast iron star, very simple and Amish-looking. The trivet was lost or given away, and I have grieved its loss so deeply, somehow lumping it in with the grief of losting my grandmother. I’ve been keeping my eye out for that trivet for years now, but so far, no luck…

  12. Nadia Niggli says:

    So wonderful! It reminds me of Paul Auster’s book of collected true stories called “I Thought My Father Was God.” Just as magical.

  13. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hi Kate,
    How odd that you couldnt post to the toothpaste post! Here is what I know: The basic is to use soap to brush with. The coconut oil gives it some thickness without being too soaps. There are loads of benefits that people believe coconut oil carries, so that would be a side bonus. Mine becomes thick without being whipped up. I hope this helps. I dont think there is a right answer – just what works for you.


  14. dogsmom says:

    great tribute to your grandmother as well as wonderful relation about the power of manifesting.
    I can not believe the price! I am an hour north of Milwaukee and nothing is ever less than 50 cents a glass around here, even if sold in a set.
    Saturday I ventured down towards Kenosha to hit a few shops I remembered from days lived there, and discovered there are VV’s in that part of state. I have not yet been to one.

  15. Rachel Wolf says:

    The price was ridiculous. Ive paid over $3 a piece for less adorable vintage goblets before. Value Vilage is great – these actually came from Salvation Army. Happy hunting!

  16. Amanda says:

    I’m so happy you found your goblets! I am seraching for an oriental music box that my grandmother had. Hopefully your good luck will rub off on me to find it 🙂

  17. Amy Stark says:

    I am sooooo happy for you. The goblets are wonderful, but the memories are even sweeter to read about. Of course, the bargain factor is totally the ultimate cherry on this perfect sundae/story.

  18. Eleanor says:

    Oh my God, what a wonderful story. I too lost some things that my Grandma really would have wanted me to have due to family craziness, and ever so often I’ll see something that reminded me her apartment at a thrift store or somesuch and tear up.

  19. Rachel Wolf says:

    I understand the sentiment. For me it is sometimes a smell that I stumble upon, at home or our thrifting. I once opened her box of crochet hooks and had the smell of her sewing room greet me years after her death. It brought tears to my eyes! Here is to healing the family craziness that weaves through our stories.


  20. Joy says:

    Only one of the best (made me cry) manifesting stories, EVER! Now that’s the energy of thrifting I’m talkin’ about! Thank you for a GREAT post!

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