Back in the US I shop at Goodwill a lot, especially for kids’ clothes. They grow through them so fast and boutique prices are insane, but you can get the high-quality boutique stuff for dirt cheap at Goodwill. In addition to saving money, there’s a huge environmental boon to reusing clothes instead of always buying new. Plus if you have a hard-to-fit kid like I do with Peo, having lots of brands in one place makes it more likely that something will fit. And that variety often lends itself to really great finds of rare, weird clothing and other good stuff.
Protip: if you can find inexpensive used plates at Goodwill – especially holiday-themed ones – you can use those to give out holiday cookies to teachers, colleagues, friends, etc. They’re sturdier so you won’t risk collapses as can happen with cheap, disposable trays, they look nicer, and the recipient can either reuse the plate, give it back to you if they wish (make it clear to them that they don’t have to), or regift it forward. Major environmental win, nicer presentation, everyone’s happy.
Peo and I went on a quest to get some used dishes at the charity shops here in Cambridge in November so we could use them for cookies we were going to sell for a Christmas charity bake sale. There isn’t one big umbrella organization like Goodwill running the shops; instead, you have to go to a bunch of different itty-bitty shops for different charities like the Heart Foundation, Oxfam, Cancer Charities, RSPCA, and others.
Each of these shops has its own style in terms of what they carry, and the prices can vary significantly. But what they do have in common is the rare, weird stuff, and some of them have it more than others.
We didn’t find individual dishes as readily as we’re used to with Goodwill – the shops here tend instead to sell complete sets and we didn’t need that many – so we failed on that account. But boy howdy did we find some weird stuff!
We also had one great find: a giant tub of about 100 solid wooden blocks for Robin for Christmas for only £3.50 which now double as burglar-deterrent-caltrops all over the living room floor.
And in that same store was this gem:
It barfs sauce at you. I almost bought it just to put pea soup in it and call it a Python-Exorcist crossover. Nobody expects the Spanish Expectoration. Nobody.
You have to understand, this scene in The Meaning of Life horrifies my husband to the point of him not wanting to watch the film, despite liking the rest of the film. So I took this photo mostly so I could show it to him when we got home and say, “Do you see how much I love you because I totally didn’t buy this to vomit sauce at you?”
He was duly appreciative.
Anyway, you’d think that’d be the strangest thing we saw on our charity shop journey, but you’d be wrong. See, that’s just a bit of slightly disgusting Python silliness, which is pretty much what they’re known for and thus, by extension, what England is known for. That’s right, Brits…all Americans think you’re a nation lethal to parrots and that it’s easy to catch a train from Bolton to Notlob. Totes truth. Yes.
This is also why Peo and I almost lose it every time Robin’s music teacher here brings out the coconut shells to simulate a horse.*
But moving on to the Oxfam shop, Peo and I entered a world of weirdness that even our Python-filled brains were not ready to grasp.
First we found this, and would have bought it except that Robin would have eaten the pieces on account of her having no respect for invading aliens whatsoever.
I am horribly disappointed that they didn’t rename this version OPERATE!
But that’s not really so odd. I don’t think there’s a store in this country that doesn’t have at least some kind of Doctor Who paraphernalia in it. It’s pretty much a mandatory national industry at this point.
Where it got weird was with the naked bodies.
Yes, I said naked bodies.
Because if you’re going to have a mannequin in your home, why wouldn’t you decoupage it with comics and then ensure it had hooks for hands, navel, and nipples?
So. This is a Thing.
And if you’re going to have that Thing, I guess it should have these things. For…hats? Small paintings? Teacups? Probably teacups. This is probably how you’re supposed to hang your teacups in the UK, all dainty-like.
And if I said, “Hey, look over there, I see a Barbie mirror!” you’d assume I meant something like this:
And not this:
The zip ties on some of the legs really sell the horror, don’t you think?
Suddenly the Daleks’ strategy seems a lot less terrifying. They just want to exterminate you, not affix your still-smiling naked corpse to a vanity device.
* Waiting for the sharkreados on this one.