Once my buddy and I reached Seven Corners in Downtown Saint Paul, a whole new world of treasure hunting opened up. Worn-a-bit, Rag Shop, Salvation Army, Goodwill; they all connotated a certain image in our minds. We knew that was where the poor people shopped, those down on their luck found treasures, and those struggling to make ends meet got things on the cheap. We were none of those; just two grade school kids looking for something, anything of special interest.
My, how things haven’t changed. Now a new generation (for example, my
grandkids) has found a juvenile version of Valhalla among the piles of
discarded clothing, jewelry, household goods and other assorted cast-off items.
For them, it’s a veritable treasure chest of ‘finds’ among the ruins. The
locales may be different now but the treasure hunting remains the same.
It's now been given a new name, a new destination and a new game in
town. I’m talking about ‘thrifting.’ I know this because all five of my
grandchildren are deep into their own personal journey of discovery. It’s the
newest hip thing to do among the younger set.
The Revivals store here in Palm Springs, along with Angel View, and a
dozen other denizens of ‘gently used items’ fed this hunger for bargain
shopping at its very best. These storefront businesses are all vast collections
of used clothing, household items, DVDs, CDs, vinyl, and even some eight-tracks
thrown in. A few of the stores are now sneaking in brand new items, still under
the guise of bargain items. Nevertheless, they all present new surprises upon
every visit. Here is a classic case of ‘what goes around’ comes back around.
For the younger shoppers among us, the challenge of selecting old time-tested clothing and other items reflect a period – for them – wrapped in that dark past called ‘our parent’s era.’ Pushed beyond that would be their ‘grandparents’ era’ which is even more mysterious than a description of ‘dark matter.’
Although not born out of financial need, I think this quest for lost
treasures reflects the younger generation’s fascination with ancient relics
from the past. For them, that would be the sixties, seventies, and eighties.
Old band or festival t-shirts are highly prized among that group of scavenger
Garage sales also present great opportunities for ‘new finds’ but
usually in the form of gently used sporting goods, games, furniture, household
items, etc. Its remarkable how someone else’s throwaways become someone else’s
Back in the day, my buddy and I would often venture out to the Goodwill Store in downtown Saint Paul out of curiosity more than anything else. I
was into reading about World War Two and they always had a treasure trove of
old ‘Life Magazines,’ often from the 40s and 50s. My friend, Micky, was more
focused on assorted junk he could tinker with.
If the Goodwill store or the Salvation Army didn’t satisfy our thirst
for new found treasures, we could always find something of value at the ‘Ax
Man’ on University Avenue. The Ax Man was a veritable junk yard on steroids of
small, often times, metal objects that must have been cast-off machinery parts
from local factories.
A buck would get us both a bag full of small worthless objects we just
knew would be useful for whatever silly project we had in mind. Of course, the
items were usually forgotten or thrown away shortly after we bought them but
the hunt was always the best part of the journey anyway.
I forgot about these generational Dollar Stores until about the mid-to-late
sixties, when I was living in a rundown hovel near the University of Minnesota.
I would often frequent a Salvation Army store nearby to furnish and decorate my
apartment. Then go to the Army Navy Surplus Store on University Avenue and
downtown Minneapolis for army jackets, camping gear, etc.
Sharon and I started taking the grandchildren to garage sales, estate
sales, etc. when they were toddlers. The Colorado kids especially loved the
hunt since their parents seldom, if ever, took them there. Nana’s (Sharon’s)
only caveat was that the kids had to do their own negotiating with the owners
for whatever they wanted to buy.
Brian and Amy weren’t too thrilled when Maya, Samantha and Spencer came
home each time with armfuls of ‘things.’ But, as we explained to them, when we
were in town baby-sitting that was part of our routine and the grandkids knew
and loved it.
On their last visit to Palm Springs, the grandchildren, accompanied by
some of the parents, all made their annual trek to ‘Revivals’ for their fill of
‘had to have’ treasures. No one left without some gem to show their pals at
school the following week.
Another hallowed family tradition passed down from one generation to