Cautionary Tale: in which I buy a Salvation Army pallet so you don’t have to.

Just put a big ol’ SUCKER sticker across my forehead. When I went back to the Springdale Salvation Army and they had not only one but TWO mystery pallets for sale, I knew I was going to be hauling a bunch of junk home. I just couldn’t resist. Here was my thought process, in a nutshell:

1. Though I am very poor right now, and $35 IS a lot of money, it’s a small enough amount that one or two good finds from the pallet could recoup the investment.

2. I got some fun old finds at this Sally over the weekend, so I knew they had old stuff being donated.

3. The boxes looked like stuff people had just dropped off, so I could believe that maybe they were untouched by Sally workers hands and just thrown, sight unseen, on the pallet.

Here’s what my pallet looked like before I hauled it all home:

It’s the mystery aspect of this that gets me! Even knowing what kind of crap was in those boxes, I still look at that and think, oooooooh, anything could be in there!

In reality, this is what I salvaged from that massive pile:

Yep, that’s it. After two car trips worth of boxes, necessitating a ridiculous amount of finagling between Justin and me since the last trip had to be sans babies and carseats to fit everything in; after an hour or two of sifting through the detritus; and after another hour of boxing it all back up and (for the first load) shamefacedly taking it to another thrift store, that’s the sum total of my “winnings.”

These birds are old and pretty but each has at least one chip, so I won’t be able to sell these.

I pulled these owls out, thinking I would spray paint them, but when I was setting them up to take this picture I thought — they’re kind of cute just the way they are. Do you think so?

This stack of old cotton pillow cases was pretty sweet, and should look better once they’re out of the washing machine. That fabric you see, all blurry, in the left hand corner of the photo is a set of curtain panels in a wild 1960s print. They’re in perfect shape, and MIGHT be of interest to someone who was looking for that groovy, crazy kind of 1960s color explosion.

This sampler is pretty sweet. One like it sold on eBay for $17 recently so I might be able to get a couple of bucks out of it at the barn sale.

A couple of frames to spray paint and a small clothes pin bag.

If the Great and Powerful Internet is to be believed, these are Murano glass fruits. They’re really beautiful. They had to be scrubbed down, because they were covered in grease (seriously, after going through the boxes, I was badly in need of a shower). They sell on eBay for either NOTHING or $100. One of those things where you really have no idea how much they’re worth. I think I’ll price them kind of high for the barn sale and be A-OK if they don’t sell because I wouldn’t mind having them for myself. They were definitely the highlight of the pallet. I kept a few rolls of off-brand Contact Paper, because I’ve been using it in the Silhouette, and a set of hair curlers (that’s kind of gross, I guess, second hand curlers, but they seem like they’ve never been used) and not pictured are three large frames and a couple of bushel baskets.

Want to know what I didn’t keep? Here’s a sampling: 43 gross Tupperware lids. Half of a coffee maker. Three sampler sized PERSONAL LUBRICANTS (if you know what I mean grossgrossgrossgross). About 20 half-used shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and deodorant (grossgrossgrossgross) bottles. Tons of plastic cups. Some of the weirdest DVDs I’ve ever seen. Books on tape. Pots and pans from the stone ages. A frog collection culled exclusively from the Dollar Store. Some weird clown paraphernalia. And just trash. Straight up garbage, peeps. It was disgusting. I’m going to try and take this second load to the dump but if I have to pay I’m going to have to drop it back off at another thrift store and the cycle will continue. I feel horrible about that. On the other hand, the Salvation Army CLEARLY is using this pallet thing as a way to get suckers like me to pay a fee to carry off their garbage: NOT COOL, Salvation Army, NOT COOL. I was afraid that it would turn out to be items that had sat on the shelf for ages, never selling, but instead, it’s stuff that they took one look at and knew they couldn’t even put on the shelf. Those fruits were in a separate, smaller box in the bottom of a big box filled with crap — that’s the only reason they sneaked through, I think. Even if those happened to sell for $100 on eBay, as one set did, I don’t think it would be worth it, because of the quandary of what to do with the metric ton of crap that you don’t want to keep.

Does anyone else’s SA or Goodwill do this pallet thing? In the 17 years I was haunting Chicago’s thrift scene, I never saw it, so I think it’s safe to say they don’t do that there. I would love to hear from someone who had luck with it. Although, I do not need any incentive to try this again, believe me. The second load was so much worse than the first, because I was still hopeful while loading my first trip in the car; for the second one, I knew I was hauling nothing but crap, crap, and more crap. Insert sad face here.

I did find a few things at the Goodwill in Springdale, though, which made me feel a bit better.

I love that bird, the Toby pitcher is kind of cool, and the yellow pottery and plate will stay with me for the yellow dining room I’ve got going these days.

This fish bottle has sold on eBay a couple of times, recently, for around $20. Except when it’s not selling at all or selling for $4. eBay is SO UNPREDICTABLE these days. He’ll be coming to the Barn Sale with me.

I love this Irmi switchplate. I’ve had one just like it for years and years; in Chicago, it was in the kids’ room, but I haven’t put it back up in the new house yet. I’ll put this with my vintage kids’ room stuff at the Barn Sale.

I need to stop buying and start cleaning and pricing.

September 18, 2013 - 6:04 pm

Shara Uh-Oh. Sorry. Cannot believe it was all crap like that. You did find a few goodies, but the junk, work and headaches well out weigh that. Not to mention the $35.00. Ouch.

So, don’t hate me.

Here goes.

I bought a bunch of that glass fruit when The Dollar Tree opened. For one dollar each.

It looks just like that – I gave my dad a bunch of it to put i this fancy Fenton Bowl he has. it’s beautiful. But, cheap.

Maybe your is Murano? I hope and wish and pray.

ONE WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

September 18, 2013 - 8:40 pm

Lara Jo See, this is why I hate eBay. Here’s what I found:

Those look exactly like the ones that I have. But how will I ever know whether they’re really Murano or dollar store? Because, if I were to judge by the quality of the other crap I found in the boxes, the odds are on dollar store.

September 18, 2013 - 10:24 pm

Mary I like the little owls as is, & I like all the other things you pictured. I buy vintage pillow cases from a dealer at Canton 1st Monday for $2 – $4 each depending on their condition & style. Hopefully you can make some $ on those! Best of luck, Mary

September 19, 2013 - 3:22 pm

Heidi@TheMerryMagpieVintage Well, crap. Literally. I have to admit that the lure of a ‘grab bag’ is seriously hard to resist for me too, so I would have been oh-so-tempted do buy a pallet just like you did. I’m bummed for you that it turned out so badly. Rats.

September 19, 2013 - 3:30 pm

Sarah putting actual garbage in there is so not cool, but there is a ton of garbage at the goodwill outlet too. Of course there it is just dumped into those huge bins, not purposely boxed up and priced for sale. They know there no one will buy the garbage and once everyone is done digging it does end up in the trash.

But still.

I would still be asking them the next time how/why/who decides what goes on those pallets.

September 19, 2013 - 3:34 pm

Melissa Shut up! It’s like a giant mystery box! I would have done the same thing, no hesitation. It could have been so AWESOME!!! Nuts to you Salvation Army. Playing with peoples hearts like that…
At least it wasn’t a total bust, the fruits are cool and so are the owls.

September 19, 2013 - 3:42 pm

Sarah Also one bumpier red fruit in the upper right hand corner has a seam? Ugh.

September 23, 2013 - 10:04 am

julie OH I AM SO JEALOUS…I have been looking for a clothespin bag for months now! If you want to sell it, please email me!!!!!!!

PS. one of my bestie gays is in charge of sorting at our Salvation Army Distribution center in Los Angeles!!!!!!

September 26, 2013 - 11:52 pm

Lara Jo It sure does, and a few others have seams as well. 🙁 Some seem heavier than others. I wonder if a few are nice ones, the rest cheap knock-offs. Curse you, Salvation Army!

September 26, 2013 - 11:53 pm

Lara Jo THANK YOU for validating my curiosity, Melissa! They sure do know what they’re doing with those mystery pallets. A sucker is born every minute.

September 26, 2013 - 11:54 pm

Lara Jo Thank you for your sympathy, Heidi, it helped soothe my ruffled feathers. 🙂

September 26, 2013 - 11:54 pm

Lara Jo Good tip on the pillow cases, Mary. I’m going to try and sell them at the Farm Fresh sale tomorrow. And I left the owls as is! I think they’re cute that way, too.

September 28, 2013 - 7:25 pm

Laurie GIRL!!!! I had no idea about the pallet-gasm going on in Fayetteville! You scored some great stuff, good for you! I love the pillow cases and needlepoint especially. I would say let’s go thrifting together sometime, but I’m afraid we might end up duking it out over something. 😉 Hope to see you soon!

September 29, 2013 - 9:50 pm

Lara Jo HA! pallet-gasm! The pillow cases and needlepoint both sold at the sale, so that was good…but I have to say, the pallet was more bark than bite. Would not recommend!!!!

September 29, 2013 - 10:00 pm

Lara Jo WOW! I’ll bet he has great stories. Do you ever get first look at the goodies?

This is a tiny clothespin bag, and I would be more than happy to send it to you free of charge. E-mail me your address and I’ll get it in the mail.

October 30, 2016 - 6:45 pm

Mikey Man, I just bought a $35 pallet at the same Salvation Army and scored somewhat (no I don’t work for the salvation army…lol). I too was enticed by the mystery of buying a quite large pallet of crap and sifting through unsorted treasure. I got a lot of crap, but I got a lot of cool stuff. There were a bunch of pieces I wound up keeping, a bunch of nice pieces I gave to family, donated, sold, etc. I’ve already tripled my money just doing a yard sale and still have a lot to ebay/craigslist with. There were two complete sets of etched crystal stemware I gave to family. What I was surprised at was how little was broken vs how many delicate pieces there were. All this said, it’s a crap shoot. I asked the manager what the deal was and she said when they start getting backed up with donations it’s easier to just put it on a pallet for $35 than spend manpower on sorting/pricing. I plan on buying again; to me, the thrill was worth it alone.

November 13, 2016 - 3:31 pm

Lara Jo You’re so lucky! Now you’re making me want to go buy another pallet!!!

October 5, 2013 - 4:20 pm

Thrifty Thursday | Junque Rethunque […] to see what kind of goodies I could find on their shelves. It may have had something to do with the recent post by my newest bloggy friend, Lara Jo of Pretty Quirky… check out her blog – it’s a […]