WELCOME...TO MEDIEVAL TIMES.
wait. no. i mean welcome back to bitter/books. yeah. sorry. do i secretly wish that i worked at the dopest of all dark-ages-themed restaurants? maybe. but alas and alack it's only me here, continuing our summer-long foray into the uncharted wilderness of beautiful summer avenue here in steamy, sultry, sweaty memphis tennessee, blogging my little behind off for your edification and enjoyment. so, lads and lasses, knights and knaves, serfs and sultans, without further ado let's dig in to this metaphorical mutton leg of secondhand goodness at the Disabled American Veterans Thrift Store...i promise i'll stop with the medieval times sh*t. try to, anyway.
this particular DAV (being one of two extant in our fair city) is adjacent to last week's subject, the Mid-South Outlet, in between national st and highland. if you were driving by they'd almost look like the same store, considering they share a physical structure, parking lot, and awning, but there are a lot of differences between the two. the DAV is bigger, just in terms of raw square footage, and FEELS bigger too, but lacks that certain claustrophobic spark of brilliance that makes seasoned secondhand warriors like yours truly salivate. what it lacks in (as the french say), a certain, i don't know quoi, it more than makes up for with savings, usually running not one but TWO color coded discounts per day, and far and away taking the cake for the oddest recurring special offer in town - half off on the second to last tuesday of every month. how they came up with that is utterly beyond this humble adventurer's ability to even theorize about, but (to paraphrase tennyson or some such other old dead guy) ours is not to reason why, ours is but to thrift and die...wow, that sounds really morbid. oh well if those are our two choices i guess we should be pressing on then, eh?
you'll have to forgive all the establishing shots (as they say in tinseltown), the place is really huge but it's sectioned up into about six smaller roomlike areas instead of the warehouse/airplane hangar model that most of the stores outside of the highway loop seem to favor, and i wanted to cover it all, or try to anyway. so this is the first room, nothing but women's clothes. unfortunately i was not rolling with any hot ladies on this particular occasion so i didn't get into them too much but it's the usual suspects in this department as far as i could see...the pricing scheme is competitive with any store in town and with the half off color tags and various other sales going on all higgledy piggledy you're bound to save money somehow.
menswear. more on this later.
knicks and/or knacks, about three aisles worth, along with records, tapes, cds, books, and a surprisingly high quantity of magazines, another thing i've never understood. does the average issue of US weekly really retain much readability after, say, seventeen years? i don't know. boutique counter and separate register in the back, useful to keep in mind in case the front checkout gets swamped, which it definitely will from time to time. not pictured: more people being really really mean to their kids. god this makes me angry. i literally walked around the corner after taking this picture and interrupted a woman about to deliver a truly vicious looking backhand to a kid who, as far as i could tell, was not really doing much of anything aside from standing around. i'm not saying parents shouldn't discipline their kids, in fact quite the opposite, but i would heartily encourage any parents (or prospective ones) reading this to try and take advantage of the fact that you're SMARTER than your kids (if you are, that is) rather than the fact that you're bigger than them - seems to be more effective.
little furniture/electronics/mishmash room, adjoining
MUCH bigger furniture room, stacked about four rows deep with couches, chairs, cabinets, tables, shelves, recliners, you name it really. some good stuff and some obviously past its prime stuff, but always worth a look, in my experience. of course, as is usually the case in thrift stores, if you find something great the biggest hitch is trying to get it out of there in one piece without killing yourself, but no one ever said you weren't going to have to get your hands dirty a little, eh squire?
and of course, because i perpetually fear that you, my dear readers, think i'm exaggerating about the sheer volume of golf clubs and crutches that i see for sale week after week, here they are in all their confounding glory, along with the suitcases (kind of a weak selection, comparatively) and a nice little add-on: some walkers, complete with cut up tennis balls to keep the rubber pads on the bottom from scuffing up the floor as you hobble around. another thing i'm always tempted to buy, for no good reason. i try as hard as i can to keep the amused chuckles to a minimum when i see these bad boys in action, though...i probably won't be laughing as hard when it's my turn to strap one on and shuffle around the supermarket, squeezing onions and forgetting what day of the week it is. wait a second i already do that
okay, down to brass tacks. time to stop being polite, and start getting real. NATION TIME! so a good chunk of the nicer stuff in the realm of housewares and various other errata is consolidated in and around the back counter, the "boutique" (as they like to call it) area...i'm reserving the word "whatnots" for later. you'll see why. but yeah so this neat little single cup coffee filter thing like they always serve in the vietnamese restaurants was a dollar and i was sorely tempted but had to pass on, both because of my complete and total brokeitude and also because there is literally no room left in our kitchen for anything to go anywhere at all. i love our apartment but how one goes about designing a kitchen with no (zero, 0) drawers in it is utterly beyond me. also these dishes were cool - set of 16 for i want to say $30 i think. yeah.
so yeah the magazines, as much as i like to pick on stores for keeping so many around, occasionally you find a gem like this that justifies the whole thing. i bit my knuckle in serious consternation about whether or not to snag this, for the devo interview alone (something nuts like 8 pages), not to mention all the hilarious ads for synthesizer equipment, but decided to leave it for someone else to find and be amazed by. my brokeass version of "paying it forward" i guess.
SALAD HAWGS YOU MY DAWGS
SALAD HAWGS SALAD HAWGS.
to be perfectly honest the salad hawgs were kind of scaring the crap out of me a little, reminding me as they did of the single creepiest music video i have ever seen in my life, ever. if you've not seen it (GASP) or your memory is a little hazy, carve out 5 1/2 minutes from your obviously busy schedule (if you're here reading this then you must really not have much else to do, i assume) and remind yourself why primus used to be the greatest band on the planet, before les claypool decided to become a jam musician and play in stupid bands with the guy from phish and stuart copeland...ugh.
so, i see a fair amount of these nice-looking silver plated serving trays around, of wildly varying levels of quality and disrepair, usually nothing a little tarn-x wouldn't fix, and it always makes me think. i understand that as space-age modern americans on the go, most of us probably don't have occasion to make much use of this kind of stuff, let alone take the time to purchase and repair some of the rougher specimens that pop up...but how hard would that be to change, really? i'm not advocating letting modern society grind to a halt while we all sit on the back porch and sip brandy alexanders or anything, i'm just saying...how much nicer do you think you'd feel about yourself if you took a couple extra minutes and ate your lunch off of one of these sumbitches every once in a while? a lot nicer, is how much nicer i think you'd feel. a lot.
so yeah, on the subject of "whatnots," which i always assumed was just a pet word of mine that i'd never see in any sort of "official" capacity, if you can call this official of course, but here it is, crackin' me up to no end. ironically the whatnots is one of the areas where this particular DAV is kind of thin - it really is one of the better overall stores, not to jump the gun on the final estimation or anything, but it is indisputably thin in certain areas, "whatnots" being one of them, but then again
any store that can claim to have about a dozen sets of chopsticks, a christmas tree that seems to be made out of throat lozenges glued to a cone of foam, and several plastic hot dog containers (what in the hell is a plastic hot dog container) all on the same shelf can't exactly be called "thin" when it comes to the whatnots, now can it. full disclosure, i definitely arranged this little tableau for photographic purposes, but all this stuff was within arm's reach on the same shelf before i got there, i promise.
on a related note, a couple weeks ago one of my friends asked me how exactly i managed to keep my bearings on these little treks, when surrounded by all this weird, wonderful stuff to shoot and scribble and try (in hilarious and utter futility) to capture, and of course the short answer is i don't keep my bearings at all, i just careen around like a dorky white pinball, taking pictures and making notes willy nilly, and putting it all into some semblance of order later on, but the truth is you sort of develop almost like a kind of tunnel vision where you just focus on whatever object is currently occupying the center of your field of view and try to blot out everything else, if for no other reason than to keep from getting distracted, if that doesn't sound too weird. i only mention it here as a sort of general piece of advice for any aspiring thrift junkies out there who can't imagine how they could keep their heads screwed on straight in the midst of all this delightful detritus, and anyone who wonders how i get any kind of narrative thread going among all this clutter. you just go from one thing to the next and let the story tell itself, if that doesn't sound too unbearably pretentious. yeah probably
so yeah also a bunch of greeting cards? maybe they have these in other stores too but i can't think of any that i've seen, not that i would be looking for greeting cards in a thrift store, but i suppose that just shows you how narrow minded i can be. i mean i guess it makes sense, everyone has birthdays from time to time and last i checked, things like christmas were still occurring at regular intervals, so if you're the type who likes to stock up in advance to avoid the crunch on occasions like that, then i guess this is for you, it's just...am i the only one who sees this as a little strange? maybe i'm just a fussy baby but i think i would feel weird giving someone a "get well soon" card that i knew came from a box next to a big pile of broken toasters or whatever. like i said though, me = weird, maybe.
ugh. man. sorry if this starts to get a little bit jumbled, here and there. my head is killing me, i was up until 4 last night playing Grand Theft Auto and drinking Sparks™ brand caffeinated energy beverage drink (what, did you think i just read tolstoy all night and turn in after a hot toddy or two?) so i'm a little out of it and you know what this picture is DEFINITELY not helping. it's like rob zombie shot a sports illustrated calendar or something. what you can't see in the picture is this was an album of like "lite popular favorites" or something...if you put this image on the cover of an album nowadays everyone would assume like "psychobilly freakout" or "electric kool aid love in" or some such shit like that, but i guess back in the day this said "easy listening" to most people. strange days, ladies and gentlemen...strange days.
moving on to clothes, where a veritable kaleidoscope of colors awaits the intrepid adventurer. i feel that my camera didn't do this one justice, though, as the reptillian shimmer that i remember so clearly from seeing this tie doesn't seem to come across in the finished image, which is a real shame. i remember thinking clearly that if i saw this thing wrapped around someone's neck my first impulse would probably be to hit it with a large stick, rather than congratulate them on being so fashion forward...this being another great example of why i try not to carry large sticks around.
also not really coming across here is the vaguely unctuous shade of turquoisey teal of these pants, which almost sold me a used car without even having a used car salesman inside of them but then LOOKOUT
HEYO! i was about to say these shorts should come with a warning label but upon further consideration i think they actually ARE a warning label...for what, i don't know, but don't you feel vaguely alarmed, just looking at them? someone call homeland security
there were five of these. don't really know what else to say about that, aside from the fact that whenever i see that many copies of the same shirt i'm always somewhat tempted to buy them all and pass them out to my friends the next time we go bar hopping, just to see the looks on people's faces, because really, five shitfaced strangers stumbling down the street is one thing, but five shitfaced strangers stumbling down the street in IDENTICAL MATCHING SHIRTS is just like a one way ticket to happy town for anyone lucky enough to see them, i think. it's kind of like catching a leprechaun, except instead of good luck or three wishes or a pot of gold you might get a little puke on your shoes if you stand too close. somehow that's a good thing in my book?
okay, here we go. [in the voice of "the count" from sesame street] ONE t-shirt from a movie that probably didn't need to have a t-shirt made for it...ah ah ah ah ahhhh....
TWO t-shirts from movies that probably didn't need to have t-shirts made for them...ah ah ah ah ahhhhh....
THREE t-shirts from movies that probably didn't need to have t-shirts made for them...ah ah ah ah ahhhh....
[normal voice again] okay, thank you for indulging me. i was sorely tempted to pick this shirt up as well. even though the hot topic-i-zation of our society has virtually guaranteed that every single thing that i liked from my childhood will eventually end up on a t-shirt somewhere, the power of green eggs and ham is so great that it transcends all attempts to cash in on nostalgia and irony and still remains unquestionably badassed, at least in this humble chronicler's opinion. once more, for the record...not in a house, not with a mouse. moving on.
stores do this sometimes, to my mixed amusement and confusion, they put out a "vintage" rack which, as in this case, is usually stocked mainly with hideous-looking beauty pageant gowns from 10+ years ago, which i guess qualifies as "vintage" in the mind of your average thrift store employee, but then again occasionally they throw in a snazzy pantsuit like this here and redeem the whole endeavor
or this neat looking dress/jacket combo, neither of which were all that expensive to begin with and of course would be STEALS if you happened to come back on a half-off day. usually most stores use the "vintage" or "boutique" or "better" qualifiers as an excuse to jack the price up through the ceiling, but my recollection is that wasn't the case here, which i applaud wholeheartedly. just wanted to mention that.
also wanted to mention, apropos of nothing really, the pretty impressive little collection of pajamas, bathrobes, kimonos, etc laid out in between the men's and women's clothing areas, none of which cost more than $5 that i could see. odd thing to feature so prominently, but hey what do i know, right
okay home stretch time...almost there. you still with me, gang? AWESOME looking pair of italian shoes that were, sadly, a few sizes too small for yours truly but definitely reminded me to mention that i see this kind of stuff all the time, even if i don't think to shoot it, and i think it's one of the more underappreciated areas of secondhand merch that should really get more attention...i've seen so many gorgeous, barely touched pieces of italian footwear for an unbelievably tiny fraction of their initial cost at thrift stores over the years, it would make your head spin, but people tend to cruise right past the shoes in my experience, which is a real shame. i do it too, i'm no saint or anything, i'm just saying. take an extra minute next time you find yourself at goodwill or wherever and look over the footwear, you might just find a gem like this.
and last but not least, the one that got away. i've been looking for basically this exact thing for weeks and weeks now, but due to a combination of a total lack of funds on my part and a little bit of timidity when it comes to taking such a bold step forward, fashion-wise, i didn't pick it up. was i wise to exercise restraint? i'll post the evidence here and let history judge me as it will.
and that will do it for this week's excursion - sorry for the novella length entry, but i felt like the last couple were a little lacking in depth, and this DAV is one of the bigger, more eclectic stores on Summer Ave, so i thought i'd really dig in and try to show what was going on. as usual i only scratched the surface, as you can probably piece together for yourself, and as always i encourage everyone to go and see the place with your own two eyes, this silly little travelogue of course being no substitute for firsthand experience. so yeah all in all one of the better all around stores in town, price/selection/character-wise, and as i wrote in my notes for this trip, "i feel like it's my duty girl / to satisfy that booty girl" OOPS wait wrong page i meant to say "you can't thrift in memphis without going to summer ave and you can't go to summer ave without going here." best to leave it at that i think
Dav Thrift Store
3440 Summer Ave
Memphis, TN 38122
m-sat 8:30 - 6:30
music: usual pop hits nonsense, totally tuned out by me. special thanks to the gentleman who was trying out a boombox by playing the tape containing the "back it up and dump it on me" song over and over again at extremely high volume for singlehandedly making my day
specials: half off two color tags every day, clearly labeled at the front of the store, half off on the second to last tuesday of every month, and occasionally i think half off just because they feel like it.
before i bid you farewell this week, a couple administrative notes: the special section of the newspaper that i've been blathering about for weeks now is going to apparently run on the 15th of this month, that would be this upcoming sunday, in the commercial appeal, featuring a short profile on yours truly as well as many other local blogging luminaries. i'll post a link somewhere whenever relevant information emerges, and probably send out an email alert (since this is crucial info that i think everyone should have, natch) or something along with the next entry, which should be in the pipeline by the end of the week. also as it stands currently, "other" is in the lead in our "favorite wine for under $5 a bottle" poll, edging out night train and making me curious as to what exactly people have had in mind when casting their votes - don't be afraid to leave a comment and make your voices heard, people. that's what we at bitter/books INC, LLC are here for. for you, and only you. not your mom, not the guy sitting behind you in the hat, not nikita khrushchev...just you. you want to know why?
because you're special.
you stay classy memphis