Saturday, July 02, 2011

Notes from Unique Thrift

Unique Thrift is the most kick ass second hand store in the world. I go to the downtown location on Lorain Avenue near Fulton on Cleveland's near west side.

They do one hell of a business--particularly on half-price day, with people loading up carts with second-hand clothes and toys and books. Unique Thrift has unusual gift items as well.

I picked up these utterly cool boots for EIGHT BUCKS.

This old Tuco puzzle set me back TWENTY FIVE CENTS. Never mind that it's missing about 20 pieces, the resident bepuzzler is doing it anyway. Who can resist those chunky "triple-thick" pieces?

The Goat explored Unique Thrift's Sporting Goods department.

He also enjoys perusing the store's snazzy discount fashion items.

For those interested in slightly experienced underwear, Unique is the place to find it. If that ain't looming fruit, baby, I don't know what is.

Unique Thrift has a particular odor. It is not necessarily a bad odor. It is the odor one would expect in a cavernous room filled with used stuff. It smells like a giant closet.

That revelation should not be surprising, but here's the rub: your humble hostess is sensitive to airborne particulates. If I encounter a lot of dust or spend several hours in a closed space with a few smokers, I'll have something akin to a hay-fever attack, complete with sneezing, wheezing and nose-running. A barn full of animals can cause the same trouble.

If I spend more than five or ten minutes in Unique Thrift on a busy day when Unique Thrifters are rifling through the all the merchandise, there are enough airborne particulates to instigate such a fit, which will subside almost immediately upon my exit. As evidenced by this post, this minor health inconvenience does not deter my patronage in any way.

Now all you candy asses know who you're dealing with.

* * *


Harry Finch said...

Ms OB – You inspire me to visit the Waterbury Flea Market today (90% junk, 90% fun), and that inspiration reveals how wonderfully appropriate your post is for Independence Day weekend.

Much of our country’s birth, and today’s government budget “crisis,” can be explained by America’s search for a good deal.

We hate paying full price for anything.

Colonial governance wasn’t so bad until the governors decided the governed should pony-up.

Probably the great majority of Americans today don’t mind the size of government; and probably the same majority really hate the price.

(I find the “conservative” question “why should I pay for that?” compelling. Even though there are excellent reasons why one should pay for it, I admit I know how they feel.)

Of course, bargain-hunting is not an exclusively American trait. Most humans want to pay less for everything. But since Independence Day, among all our civic holidays, is our least solemn, we can indulge ourselves with a little fun and celebrate our pursuit of the deal as unique to the planet. The business of America is the Dollar Store.

(Not looking to start a political debate. Just musing.)

Erin O'Brien said...

If you do it right, going to a flea market is pure performance art, Finch. And yes, I am confident that you do it right.

rraine said...

thrift stores, along with used book stores, are among my favorite haunts.(they kinda smell the same, too!) a new one opened here in vegas in the last year. it's HUGE, two floors. the first floor is the shop, the second is art gallery space. i managed to snag a good chunk of wall space to display my photos. the coolest part is that it's a non-profit. proceeds go to various charities in las vegas. it's an oasis of nice in the middle of a not-so-nice town.

Cleveland Bob said...

What a swell gal you are, Erin. Love these photo posts of yours and dig those sweet discount boots of yourn.

Have a super Holiday weekend.

Erin O'Brien said...

Hi rraine and CONGRATS on the display space!

Bob, you know what I'm talking about, baby! Clevos love some Unique. And how much do I miss the Memphis Triple Drive In flea market?

I think it moved to Berea Fairgrounds. I should really check that out.

Leslie Morgan said...

They ARE the best kinds of emporia, aren't they and I echo rraine - the fragrance seems the same. What is it? Time, collective experience in the stuff, a little of the human ethos left behind and now aged? I'd wrestle you for those cool boots if they're anything like size 7 1/2, not to mention the puzzle. I must say however, I can't work my head around used underthings. No, no, not even if they were bleached and boiled. And I wouldn't want my man to wear them, either.

Leslie Morgan said...

@ Harry ~ Oh, the Dollar Store! Where I come out with 20 things I don't need rather than 5 things I don't need from some other moderately discounted house. In Las Vegas, we now have the 89-Cents Store. I'm busy doing the math equation of cost-of-gas to get to said store vs. how many more pieces of junk my $20 bill will get me.

twinkly sparkles said...

I love thrift shopping and consignment shopping (and new-stuff shopping, too). I think I went to Unique Thrift when I was in Ohio, but it would have been one time and about 24 years ago. I don't remember it. Once Hubby took me to some place on the way west side (?) that was run by Franciscan monks--what is that place? It was The Bomb. Amazing vintage furniture.

I used to do a lot of antique shopping in Ravenna. But it turned into a lot of vintage, not necessarily antiques. I love all of that stuff. I would buy my girls old umbrellas and dress-ups. I love old umbrellas but they really don't last. I have a particular weakness for glassware and hats. Fun fun fun.

Nowadays (for 20+ years at least), one of the smells in used clothing is leftover scented detergent. On a recent trip away, I needed a sweatshirt and so bought not one, but 2 (my kids are starting to be able to wear my clothes). I could smell the detergent in the sweatshirts for over 5 washes. I hate that stuff. Dust, not so bad; but fake chemical smells give me an allergic reaction often. It really rings in the air of all used clothing stores.

In the Pioneer Valley, even the Salvation Army clothing is over-priced. I miss those Ohio prices.

Love your posts, as usual, Erin. I didn't know you are Hungarian. I'm half Hungarian, but don't know any foods. I will look up that recipe when it's cooler outside. Do you speak any Hungarian? Weird language. I wish I knew more than 8 words.

Hey, y'all western-er citizens: keep sending the fabulous weather our way.


Erin O'Brien said...

Leslie: They have men's and women's undies. And bras. It sort of freaks a person out. Normally, used shoes put me off, but these boots didn't at all.

Twinks, Ohio misses you and yours plenty. For what it's worth, Salvation Army ain't all that great here either. It's Unique Thrift and Goodwill all the way. HELL YEAH!

Kirk said...

I used to enjoy the late, great Aurora Farms flea market. They had stuff both on the outside and the inside of the building. And you could get a bite to eat while you were there! Too bad it's no longer around.

I really don't think most people go to flea markets, and their kid brothers, garage sales, specifically to save money. In fact, you may end up SPENDING more money, since such places are designed to bring out one's inner impulse shopper. Flea markets are really about perusing all the idiosyncratic, dated, obscure, and homespun merchandise that's fallen into the cracks of our corporate culture. At least, that's what I like about them.

Bill said...

If anyone buys that ugly cat, they should be institutionalized. Who buys used underwear? Used shoes? Well, anyone who bowls and doesn't own bowling shoes, knows about that. I'm guessing, though, that everyone in Cleveland, bowls and owns bowling shoes.

philbilly said...

I'll take that shirt if Goat don't buy it.

Cleveland Bob said "yourn". Cleveland Bob is originally from Pennsylvania?
I helped my buddy from PA change a tire and he kept asking for a "tahn". Oh, a tire iron.

Yes, all Clevelanders bowl and own bowling shoes. We wear them at weddings to help us bust a move on the dance floor.

Bill said...

Hey Erin: It they have any available space there, it would be perfect for that business you were going to start. Wasn't it called Knit and Shit? They can buy shit at Unique and Knit and shit at your place.

Vince said...

For God's sake even in darkest starving Africa they don't use used kacks. And underarm civil war style crunches, really.

Erin O'Brien said...

Kirk, Memphis used to be pretty nitty-gritty, but I know what you mean. Peeps at Unique on 1/2 price Monday are there to shop for their clothes. Civilians like me are the exception.

Bill, how is it possible to know so little at such an advanced age?

Phil, the Goat did not buy it, but I'm thinking it's probably gone by now. That crowd was serious!

Vince, HERE ARE THE BOOKS. Well, at least some of them.

Bill said...

Erin: I ususally blame it on my parents.

Erin O'Brien said...

Bill, I trust you credit them with you're sporting ways as well.

Bill said...

Erin, Yes. Unless that is a compliment.

Erin O'Brien said...

It was a compliment, Bill. You are always a good sport.

Leslie Morgan said...

Interesting. I always blame it on the ferrets.

DogsDontPurr said...

Back when I was running my antique/second hand/junk shop, a little boy came up to me at the front counter and proudly proclaimed, "It smells in here!" I had to laughingly agree: the building is over 100 years old, with a leaky roof, full of old second hand used junk...and we had just brought in boxes and boxes of dusty old books from the 1800's.

His mother hurried over to reprimand him, "If you can't say something nice....!" She apologized. But his pure innocence cracked me up!

Sadly, I don't think you'd last too long in my musty dusty old building (due to your allergies), but I'm sure you would love it!

Erin O'Brien said...

Dogs, I'd last as long as I needed. Long live ZYRTEC!

Ms Amanda said...

We were thrifting yesterday & I thought of you when I came across boxes upon boxes of second hand underthings...