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A Balcony View: Goodwill treasures

June 14, 2010|Gary Huerta

My girlfriend is a rabid Goodwill bargain hunter, and a fabulous one at that. I often marvel at the stuff she finds. Prada sunglasses. Louis Vuitton wallets. Couture shoes. It's incredible the things she comes home with. I put her batting average somewhere around .987.

Occasionally she does make questionable choices. Like last week, when she told me she needed my car to pick up a fabulous leather chair and ottoman. When she brought the chair home, all I could do was think, "OK. This is not coming into the house."

The chair stayed by the pool until a couple of days later, when we found it a loving home.

When I was growing up, my parents never took me to Goodwill. Perhaps it was the fact that they had gone from Depression-era struggle to middle-class comfort. Whatever it was, my childhood belongings came from traditional department stores.


My kids, on the other hand, have become accustomed to Goodwill. When my ex-wife and I split up, I went through tough times financially, and so I had to abandon my inbred retail habits and look for more affordable alternatives.

With a little encouragement from my girlfriend, it was easy. The truth is, kids grow out of things so fast you can often find clothes that have never been worn. I've found Gap Kids items with original price tags on them — some of them costing as much as $40. At Goodwill, they are around $3. But there was still the stigma in my own mind.

"Your kids aren't going to mind," my girlfriend told me. "Tell them it's like an adventure, that you are on a scavenger hunt to find the best things in the store. These things have a back story. Someone bought them. Someone wanted them once. And now they are here waiting for you to give them a new life."

On Sunday, I went to the new one on Brand Boulevard. I found a pair of awesome motorcycle boots for $14, which would have cost me $75 retail. I also got a Belgian waffle iron. A random purchase, I know, but I love waffles, and it just so happened that Trader Joe's was out of waffles that morning, making me think I should be less dependent on frozen food. Voila! Goodwill to the rescue!

But the find of the day was my new Stetson hat. It's like the one worn by the Man With the Yellow Hat in Curious George. Only it wasn't yellow. And I don't own a monkey.

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