Thrifting Away in Margaritaville

Ah, Thanksgiving. Where we all gather round the table, the peel-and-eat shrimp piled high on ice before us, cocktail sauce trickling down the front of our shirts, stuffing ourselves with cracked crab until we have to loosen the drawstring on our Hawaiian-print shorts, while Jimmy Buffett plays over the loudspeaker and...


Oh, right. That's just MY Thanksgiving. My dad lives in the Florida Keys.

But hey, we all have our traditions. And one of Dad's and my traditions-- in addition to a little seafood-- is thrift shopping.

I believe I've mentioned it before: Dad likes stuff. Dad likes stuff, if possible, even more than I do. More than ANYBODY, really.

And Dad especially likes stuff if he isn't quite sure just what it is. Then it's really excellent. If it's got fine craftsmanship, is made of interesting carved wood or metal or stone, and he can't for the life of him figure out what it's supposed to be used for? He's ALL OVER IT...

Like once, at a flea market, I had to stop him from unknowingly buying an artistically-designed bong.

This also means that at Christmas time, I receive some rather... UNUSUAL... gifts. I hesitate to even include this here because, while Dad is a very good sport about his penchant for the Strange and Unusual, I also suspect public discussion will only encourage him. But the item here is a reasonable example of the sort of things Dad revels in finding and passing along.

(And Dad, I'm TOTALLY good on Creepy-Owl-Dragon-Satanic Mirrors for now, thanks.)

Is it Asian? Does it have Egyptian Influence? Does anyone KNOW? O please tell me. Before I accidentally open up an inter-dimensional portal with it to somewhere unpleasant.

Anyway. Dad likes stuff. So, naturally, when we think "Thanksgiving," we think: thrift shopping and antiquing in the Keys and lower Miami.

Thrifting in this area always feels a bit different than it does around Pittsburgh. Many of the donations have a tropical look to them-- from donated papasan chairs to reggae CDs to palm tree prints. Because many of the communities themselves aren't terribly old, vintage items are typically from the 60s or 70s, though it is possible to stumble on some older merchandise. It also appears there are a lot more consignment shops than there are up my way. And as you can see here, many take advantage of the tropical theme in their marketing and signage.

Name-wise, the establishment below is one of my favorites. The "Antique Mall Y'All." Great antique mall: entertaining name. If this were a Pittsburgh business, it would translated into, "Hey Yinz Guys. Old Stuff n'At."

And what did we come away with after a happy day of thrift-shopping and antiquing?

Well, I discovered an Express lined velvet jacket for $9 at the Goodwill, in perfect condition. (Can't beat going to a warm place to pick up hardly used winter weather coats!)

Then antiquing brought me some nice examples of the 1900s whiteware plates I collect (ironically one of which is from East Liverpool, Ohio), as well as a very sleepy little metal cherub, who managed to snooze his way home in my carry-on luggage.

And Dad... Ah, Dad is not one to disappoint. Yes, in a store packed to the rafters with stuff, Dad's keen eye immediately was drawn to this.

What is it? Um, yeah, we don't know either. But it's brass. And it was only a few dollars. And the amount of enjoyment Dad has had already. just trying to figure out what the heck kind of animal it is (cat? monkey? You tell me) and what it might have been offering on the half-shell, well, that pretty much made it priceless. Dad also found an electronic Starship Enterprise, a couple of field guides to fossils and minerals, and this clock which is also a lamp, which is also an anchor, which is also a ship's steering wheel...

It also makes smoothies. (Kidding.)

Nonetheless, fun was had by all. But now-- now I must say goodbye, and apologetically so, with no pithy sum-up or clever turn-of-phrase. The Thrift Shop Romantic is a very tired gal this week-- what with all the travel... And the MRIs to get through airport security... And the stress about whether my liquid lipstick could threaten the safety of my fellow-passengers (Cinnabar, I'll have you know, is a specifically non-terrorist color)...

So for those reasons, I'll just ride off into the sunset.