A Tale of Three Carmel Thrift Stores

On a recent trip to Carmel, CA, I decided to track down some of the local thrift stores.  And voila, I found a cluster of three within 100 feet of each other in a shopping area south of town.  I figured this posh area of California might produce some good stuff and it would be a chance for me to work on my “picking” skills.

Here’s how it went:

SPCA for Monterey County Benefit Shop

Vintage Graham Kerr cookbook...lots of yummy, healthy recipes

Pristine vintage Graham Kerr cookbook…lots of yummy, healthy recipes.

Manned by old ladies (as most thrift shops are), the shop had five very cool vintage cameras for sale, but knowing nothing about the resell price for the specific cameras I shied away. I almost bought a little crystal bowl with a silver rim, but the rim wasn’t marked sterling so I passed it up.  Likewise a small pewter creamer with a little dent was a possibility, but not with a $12 price tag. Ended up with three books for $2.00.

Yellow Brick Road Benefit Shop

The second thrift store I went to was confusing at first. They have two storefronts near each other but separated by a pedestrian walkway. I found an old brass picture frame in the crowded art and furniture store, but had to go outside to the other store to pay for it.

The main storefront was busy and had lots to look at. Nice china, special items in glass cases that were in the $200+ range (think 19th century china jars and sterling silver smalls) and organized shelves of interesting books (not just “Eat, Pray, Love” and “The Secret Life of Bees” which lately I have seen in garage sales and thrift stores ad naseum!).

I drooled over all the vintage books (conveniently grouped together) but they were priced for the serious collector. A book I bought for $1 two weeks ago had a price tag of $45 and didn’t include the dust jacket like mine does!! [Though I did discover later when I got home that the store’s copy is a first edition and mine a second printing…pooh!]  I perused the vintage cookbooks, one of the things I sell in my store because I find them both fun and useful, but they were all $6 and up. Sheesh!

On top of the antique store prices and there was a big, posted sign: No food, drink or cell phone conversations.


Joining Hands Benefit Thrift Store


Joining Hands Store

But bless the folks at Joining Hands, an ecumenical enterprise. Outside the store, they list all the charities they help…nice touch. When I walked in the door they offered me a cup of coffee. Yes, you’re invited to walk around the shop with a cup of coffee!!

I looked over the shelves of glassware, but like most of the other stores, it all seemed to be used Crate and Barrel or Target stuff. Nothing special or interesting. Though admittedly, I know very little about glassware and was going on instinct.

All the books were 50% off that day and by golly I searched those shelves. One of the volunteers asked if she could help me find anything in particular and we chatted for a bit. Later she invited me to the library’s huge annual sale in August.

I ended up with three books for $5.00. One was just too quirky to pass up and I think it was my best score of the day: a 1936 first edition of “Live Alone and Like It” by Marjorie Hillis. Here’s some of the book’s sage advice for single women:

“Certainly, affairs should not even be thought of before you are thirty.
Once you have reached this age, if you will not hurt any third person
and can take all that you will have to take—
take it silently, with dignity, with a little humor,
and without any weeping or wailing or gnashing of teeth—
perhaps the experience will be worth it to you. Or perhaps it won’t.”


So it was slim pickings, but a pleasant way to spend the morning. Hands down, Joining Hands was my favorite store experience and it’s where I got my best item of the day.

Now it’s your turn, what’s your best thrift store score??



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