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The Wave

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Buzzkill: Top 10 Worst Items Found In Every Thrift Shop

Photo via Unsplash under Unsplash License A man stands in the back of a cluttered thrift shop.

“Oh man, is this really a thing again?” – The exact words I’m consistently found mumbling to myself as I sift through countless rows of dusty clothing at the local Goodwill. 

My question is, when I’m a perfectly normal teenage girl with a closet full of enough clothes to sustain every NYFW until 2040, why do I always resort back to the dim dressing rooms of the local thrift stores? And how, or more importantly why, do I even allow myself to obtain such a level of boredom that I willingly drive thirty minutes out of town just to walk aimlessly around some great aunt’s estate sale? 

The questions remain endless. But amidst the unknown, I can promise one thing – that I will never, ever walk away from a thrift spree empty handed. And although I may be guilty of shamelessly purchasing a Bob Mackie robe for $17 on one particularly desperate Sunday afternoon, I have luckily been granted good enough taste to know where the line must be drawn. 

So, while I may or may not be wearing thrifted Levis 501s as I write this article, I present just a handful of the absolute worst items that never, ever fail to appear hidden beneath the racks or shelves of those sadistic discounts. Still, a bargain is a bargain, I guess.


1. Microwaves 


One night you’re slurping down a cup of ramen noodles at 3 o’clock in the morning, and 2 months later, you look like something straight out of a radium lab in the early 1930s. Now, aside from the orange rust spreading alongside the bottom, or the ominous buzzing sound they make once plugged in, how is it possible that a machine can sit uselessly on a shelf for 29 consecutive years, and turn on without sending the world into nuclear winter?

Okay, fine, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. But now that I’m thinking about it, a whole lot of old folks do seem to complain about jaw pain. Let’s just hope they remain intact this time around. 


2. Stuffed animals


There’s absolutely nothing more depressing than children outgrowing their childhood stuffed animals. But wait, how about children outgrowing their childhood stuffed animals and leaving them to be dumped into a musty pile of other forgotten plushies in a random warehouse? Look, I don’t mind these stray ragdolls’ presence, as I’m sure many eventually find a new home and a loving owner. But PLEASE, can we move them away from the CDs and vinyl? I can’t count how many times I’ve been hunched over skipping through records trying to scout something produced after the year 1955, only to be greeted with a terribly neglected plush that (I think?) resembles a rabbit. 


3. Turtleneck sweaters


Look, before I get further into this one, let me explain one thing. You see, the problem with turtleneck sweaters is not what they are, it’s what they are often mistaken to be. And because I have literally no better explanation for this, I’ll restate what the professional Appalachian thrifter himself, MIA alum Julian Totten, stated about this utter disappointment of a garment in a previous conversation. 

“It’s like when you think a parking spot is open but a motorcycle is there.”

Well said Julian, well said.


4. Anything that smells like Grandma’s house


Quick comment, is there anything in a thrift store that doesn’t smell like a 50 year old bottle of Chanel No. 5 and cigarettes? Remember how every Abercrombie in the early 2000s had their employees drench the entire store with their signature fragrance? I wonder if it’s the same deal with thrift shops, just with an overwhelming sense of impending doom instead. 


5. Mattresses


I used to think that bed bugs only existed in television and bedtime rhymes until I saw one crawl from the button of a mattress cover onto the carpet below. I was about ten years old then. I still refuse to sleep without layers and layers of sheets and duvets on my bed. Enough said. 

(Also, stains?)


6. Makeup/Cosmetics


Although I’ve never witnessed someone brave enough to purchase a makeup pallet from the wall of terribly disguised Fendi dupes, they’ve got to be there for a reason, right? Maybe the six page long waiver form required before purchase sketched too many people out. I mean, at least they provide some sort of warning, right? 


7. Antique glasses


In case the microwave doesn’t take you out the first time, why not head over to the display of perfectly safe uranium glass? As long as the design is pretty, why should the neon green glow be of concern? Besides, it appears that no significant number of people have been hospitalized for uranium poisoning since the exact time those glasses were manufactured. So, I’d say they should be fine.

But remember, theory can only take you so far.


8. Antique figurines


Why is it that thrift shops tend to be the Island of Misfit Toys, only for incredibly offensive and vulgar antiques? Maybe it’s been my fault for only choosing vintage stores directly off of the interstate, or maybe it’s just Florida. (Sigh.)


9. Weapons


Yep, I can confidently say with this one that it is just Florida. And maybe Texas. And Arkansas? Maybe just the south. Nonetheless, I have never been shocked to hear myself say, “Is this even legal?” It seems that each time it’s getting more difficult to distinguish whether I’m snooping around at Goodwill or dining inside of a Cracker Barrel, but that’s a whole other story. 


10. Undergarments


Two words: Personal. Hygiene. Actually, let’s add two more: Common. Sense.

So, yes, I’ve had my share of difficulties regarding old belongings thrown into one disorganized, but incredibly cheap shack. However, I’ve also had the fortune of scoring some seriously sick items such as a copy of my favorite painting, which is now hung on my bedroom wall. Still, if writing this Buzzkill has taught me anything, it’s that I may still hold on to my dignity, as I have yet hit the breaking point which influences me to drive five hours to the Goodwill bins, in which the same chaos ensues, but this time in dumpster bags! 

(I’ll make sure to let you guys know if and when that will be on the next Buzzkill.)

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About the Contributor
Annabelle Frazer
Annabelle Frazer, Editor-in-Chief
Annabelle Frazer is a senior at Marco Island Academy, and the Editor-In-Chief of The Wave. At any given moment, Annabelle enjoys listening to music, going to concerts, and panicking about the future. She loves cats, fashion, the color black, and will do anything for an ice-cold Shirley Temple. After high school, Annabelle would love to attend college and obtain her master's degree in journalism, and fight to change the world. However, she would also settle for one more cat instead.
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