7/8/2008 - Leo's Thrift Store, Junior League Repeat Boutique (Summer of Summer)

heyyy hermano...it's me. sorry about the little unscheduled hiatus. i will now post a brief list of excuses, which are all bullshit, to one varying degree or another. feel free to pick and choose from among them.

1. my mother in law was in town
2. so caught up in patriotic fervor for the 4th that i couldn't fathom buying ANYTHING secondhand (it's just not 'merican)
3. so broke that even the thought of going somewhere where there's an implication of money changing hands makes me want to curl up with my blanket and take a nap
4. been having a lot of thoughts that are not exactly fit for public consumption
5. ???

take your pick. but quests continue as quests must, and with my wife at my side once again playing sancho panza to my secondhand don quixote (she's probably going to slap me in the head when she reads that...oh well, it was worth it) we set off into the relatively uncharted farther expanses of Summer Avenue here in beautiful balmy Memphis Tennessee, which today landed us at Leo's Thrift Store:

i'll be honest, after the giddy sugar rush of public recognition in the Commercial Appeal last month, followed by the crash of slogging through another boring trip through thrift citi two weeks ago, i wasn't exactly looking forward to getting back on the horse. but Leo's turned out to be a pleasant surprise - weird, quirky, small, smelly, and CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP. everything you could want out of a secondhand shop.

where to begin? the first thing i noticed coming in the front door was this thing, a "Scandinavian Krumkake Iron." what is a "Scandinavian Krumkake Iron," you might ask? you might even ask what a "Krumkake" is at some point. or you might be leaning more towards "WHO GIVES A SHIT" as your opening question, or even more towards the declarative statement "I do not give a shit," perhaps followed by "what a Krumkake is or what a Scandinavian Iron for making one looks like please talk about something else already god dammit" and if that is the case i apologize in advance because i happen to be of scandinavian descent and have heard the Krum kaka spoken of in hushed and reverent tones nearly my whole life although i have never actually had one, and i intend on sharing the love with everyone, at length. here is what it is (thanks, wikipedia!)

"Krumkake or 'Krum kaka' (meaning bent or curved cake, plural krumkaker) is a type of Norwegian cookie made of flour, butter, eggs, sugar, and cream made during the Christmas season.

A typical recipe can contain equal parts sugar, butter, flour and potato/cornflour, along with eggs and cream. The sugar and eggs are whipped with melted butter, flour is added, and finally cream. Alternative ingredients are different spices and/or brandy. A special decorative two-sided iron griddle, similar to a waffle iron, is used to bake the thin round cakes. Older irons are used over the stove, but modern electric irons offer the convenience of nonstick surfaces, automatic timing, and multiple cakes per batch. While hot, the 5-8" krumkake are rolled into small cones around a wooden or plastic cone form. Krumkake can be eaten plain or filled with whipped cream (often multekrem) or other fillings.

These cookies are popular not only in Norway but also among Norwegian immigrant descendants in the American Midwest. Krumkaker are traditionally made in preparation for Christmas.

In Germany, the cookies are commonly filled with sweet stuffings such as raspberry compote or whipped cream. They are also used as a type of ice cream cone."

sounds good, ja?

moving on, one cannot help but notice the plethora of vintage appliances and cookware, taking up a good 1/4 of the store, which in most stores i would find kind of annoying, considering that usually about half of this stuff is broken, missing parts, or otherwise unusable, but everything i saw looked sturdy, functional, and hilarious to boot, like this salad shooter! GOD i used to want one of these things SO BAD when i was a kid...not to cook with of course, but to wear in a holster like a sidearm and travel the countryside, dispensing cucumber slice-based justice like a vigilante julia child.

i had a lot of weird fantasies as a kid.

uhhh where were we? oh yeah speaking of "things i would have rather used as weapons as a child," this amazingly intense and sturdy looking mixer, for something like $25 i think. really not that much considering it's from an era where they designed the kitchen appliances like they designed the cars - they weigh 4000 pounds, are encased in solid steel and if you treat them well they will run FOREVER. no fancy attachments, no dough hook or automatic timer, just a big solid motor and two beater tongs that will literally rip your fingers off if you get too close to them. i cannot see this thing without picturing those bad boys covered in chocolate frosting and little eight year old me just viciously elbowing everyone out of the way to get my hands on one. i almost licked the monitor a second ago, just looking at the picture. try to restrain yourself. actually fuck it, go ahead and lick your computer monitor if you want to...who am i to ruin someone else's good time?

speaking of "lickable appliances," i realize this is the epitome of "something you would buy and probably only use like once a month at the outside most" but god damn if i wasn't tempted. who doesn't want an old school milkshake mixer for their very own personal use? you tell me that. tell me right now who doesn't giggle with delight at the thought of this proud piece of equipment dutifully waiting on your kitchen counter for the next time you cared to prepare and serve yourself a shake or malted of some variety. who is that person you tell me that YOU TELL IT TO ME RIGHT NOW DAMMIT

okay this is the last bit of "appliance porn" for this week i promise. sorry to lean so heavily on the "outdated kitchen equipment" tip this week (also sorry for leaning on the "unnecessary quotations around everything" tip too) but leo's has a ton of this crap and like almost everything else i saw it's really insanely cheap, and the truth of it is they really do not make stuff this well at all any more. just from moving around the country so much over the past few years i've been through more toasters, blenders, mixers, choppers, juicers, squeezers, pressers and pulpers than most people see in a lifetime and i can personally vouch for the reliability of the older, heavier variants over the space age, lightweight plastic piffle that clutters most people's countertops nowadays. if it looks like it was designed to make the russians jealous, just buy it. it will look hilarious and run forever and probably cost about a tenth of the price of the "modern" version which has 16 unnecessary functions and is made out of plastic and will break after 4 months. like this juicer. is it heavy and it is at least 25 years old and it just makes juice. it has an on/off switch and you put the fruit on the top and then juice comes out. that is all. $5.

if you hooked up a set of wheels to the motor on one of these things you could probably get it going at least as fast as one of those Smart Car things that are so popular in europe right now. just throw a little saddle on the top, oversized foam novelty cowboy hat and BAM you are instantly the most recognizable person in your neighborhood, unless you live in cooper young in which case six people have probably already thought of this. it would probably protect you about as well in an accident, too.

i really do not know what to say about this except for i have never seen so many used cast iron skillets in one place before. ranging from horribly rust covered to basically pristine, from about $5 to about $25, if you've not discovered the value of a good cast iron skillet then i am here to tell you that there is literally no substituting one of these things. for the price of a good sized skillet and a cheap little steak weight (or a brick wrapped in butcher paper, or what have you) you can transform "steak" into "OH MY GOD STEAK." and that's only the tip of the iceberg.

man i must be hungry or something because i would basically roll this blog up like a burrito and eat the entire thing right now if i could. oh well almost done talking about kitchen stuff. did i mention there's a ton of it at leo's and that it's all just silly cheap?

case in point. unless this is some sort of hideous labeling mishap i swear this whole pile of sweet looking vintage bowls was a dollar. i had to physically restrain my wife from buying these, more than once (that's blatant hyperbole: i just frowned at her and showed her the moths living in the empty space in my wallet where money used to be until she put them back) and honestly my heart wasn't really in it...i wish she had bought them anyway.

so i'm looking at the rest of the pictures here and we're going to have to pick up the pace a little bit if i want to get this thing finished before my kids get out of college. also i just cannot believe how hungry i'm getting talking about kitchen stuff and food like this, on and on

many many bags of mix n' match kitchen stuff, some silly, some useful, $1 a piece

really more sets of dishes and cups and whatnot than i could cover in a month, all fairly reasonably priced, along with the requisite dolls and knickknacks, falderal, what have you

a MOUNTAIN of coffee cups for the staggering price of $.10 a piece

probably about 50/60 of these beautiful green glass cups, mugs, jugs and plates, broken up into sets of various sizes and themes...just amazing

tons of swanky crystal ware, goblets, wine glasses, all for around 25 cents a pop...have i mentioned how cheap that is in comparison to most other places? because it is

and so this. i need to pause here and mention that this is vintage, circa like 1984 i think, and although i never actually had one of the damn things myself i can certainly imagine how coming upon a cabbage patch kid cup, bowl and plate set from back in the day would probably cause a lot of people in my age group to hyperventilate and go into hysterics. if you're already doing that then i suggest you pause and catch your breath before you read the next paragraph.

it was two bucks.

still there, as far as i know. we breezed through on saturday and there wasn't much traffic - leo's is pretty small and fairly out of the way so i wouldn't expect they have the same kind of light speed turn over of merch the way that like salvo on danny thomas or the DAV on winchester does. it's probably worth a trip, just to check.

okay i'm done talking about food-related items for a while, thank god. SWEET leopard print, framed and everything, suitable for hanging in your living room just to let all your guests know that yes, although i might give off the appearance of a timid, bookish white guy with poor nutritional habits and no taste in clothes whatsoever, inside of me there's a FEROCIOUS JUNGLE CAT just waiting for an opportunity to POUNCE on you and eat your hot guts while you slowly die in agony next to a puddle that a rhino crapped in or something. i think we've all been there.

totally intense home organ. i love these things, all push buttons and draw bars to compensate for the fact that every single noise they make sounds like ass. i would still LOVE to have one though. probably spend more time pushing the buttons and flipping all the switches than i would actually playing it, but that might be for the best in the long run.

ummm sooo i guess this is as good of a place as any to mention that leo's, like a lot of the smaller, more specialized thrift stores around town, has done away with an entire department of stuff, i suppose for a lot of reasons...to save space, to make the inventory more manageable, to streamline their business, whatever. but they did away with the one thing you would always expect a thrift store to have:

they got rid of the clothes. aside from one rack of ties (like this sweet vintage piece) there were no clothes or clothing related items anywhere. a couple other customers asked the guy behind the counter about it and he explained that he took the whole stock down to goodwill and donated them a couple months ago because, in his words, they were "irritating his sinuses." a casual perusal on my part suggested that perhaps the half full ashtray on the counter, two dogs sitting in his lap, collapsing ceiling tiles, and motorcycle repair shop connected to the back of his store were all potentially more likely culprits for his sinus irritation than a few racks of sport coats, but really what do i know about it.

and hey, this isn't bitter/blouses, anyway, so if tossing all the clothes freed up more space for the books then so be it, is what i say. GREAT book selection, shelf after shelf, not exactly the cream of the literary crop but for $.50/$1 a piece, what do you expect?

also had a good-sized floor rack of audio books, for the next 6 hour car ride you have to take, you can listen to george c. scott, that's right Patton himself, tell you all about tanks. for 6 hours.

also had this rather specious short "relaxation" tape, the 24 minute nap. it's supposed to put you out for a short little rest so you can recharge your batteries, i guess in the middle of the day or something. i don't know, i bought it and i'm listening to it now and it doesn't seem to be doing much of anyalhskkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

WELL i feel refreshed, don't you? time for the home stretch here. a fair amount of Ian Fleming scattered around the shelves, i'd like to think even if you had no clue whatsoever who this "James Bond" fellow was you might be compelled to buy this particular edition just to find out more about that ginger haired fop in the back with the cigarette holder...lord knows i was.

soooo what else we got? i have kind of an einstein fetish, granted, so i wouldn't assume anyone else finds this picture as hilarious as i probably do, but can't you just picture this man as like the wacky neighbor on some lame assed 90's sitcom...whenever the main character was having a problem he'd just cruise by and knock on einstein's door, who would look up from his desk of cluttered papers, worn out old pencil in hand, with this exact expression on his face and go "MMMMMMMMMYYYYYAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYSSSSSS??????????????"

[cue huge applause and laughter]

"albert and me" was filmed before a live studio audience.

i think this is the exact sentiment that has gotten a good portion of my generation into some serious economic troubles. although if i had to put on a business suit and run a relay race every day for my job, i think i'd probably be asking myself the same question.

tons of records too, albeit mostly gospel/andy williams/boring white people crap, they're probably still worth a once over, just for the one or two gems contained therein

definitely not badmouthing all gospel music though - this looks like it probably rocks. looking at these guys, i really believe jesus is probably coming, apparently bearing down from about three o clock high or so.

i think someone's understanding of the basic tenets of buddhism is a little shaky here.

finally, there's this. i feel that this speaks for itself.


we also went to the Junior League Repeat Boutique, one of those stores that treads the line between "Thrift" and "Resale Boutique," but is listed in the phone book as a thrift store, so i felt it deserved a look. it's a nice place, albeit kind of small, and it's mostly women's clothes, but it's clean, pretty well organized, the dressing rooms are nice and they're running a HALF OFF THE ENTIRE STORE sale for the forseeable future, so i would highly recommend a trip by there if you're up on Summer Ave any time soon.

Leo's Thrift Store
3755 Summer Ave
Memphis, TN 38122
(901) 324-1212

Junior League Repeat Boutique
3586 Summer Ave
Memphis, TN 38122
(901) 327-4777

leo's hours
mon, tues, thurs-sat 9-5
wed, sun cl

J.L.R.B. hours
tues-sat 10-5
sun/mon cl

thanks for playing along this week. we'll try to get back into a regular rhythm here pretty soon - the Summer of Summer must press on, although i'll confess to a bit of fatigue at this point. i might have to take a week off and cleanse the ol' palate with a trip into the hinterlands here pretty shortly. we'll see. until then, take care of yourselves, and in the words of Captain Beefheart,

"Everybody's colored, or else you wouldn't be able to see them."




Artsy Fartsy said...

Funny blog! I've been hunting for the best (i.e. cheapest but still good selection) thrift stores in Memphis, and found your blog. I am definitely going to check out Leo's and maybe Repeat tonight. I'm definitely adding you to my google reader list!

Chris said...

I owe you a proper congratulatory email for the genius of the Summer of Summer and the CA luv, but this post dredged something up from hazy high school memories: my best friend and I drew a comic book in which one of the villains was armed with a Salad Shooter. Our erstwhile hero was a slob at our lunch table. We figured he didn't like veggies too much.

Same best friend and I also played a game of Ubi once. I think we quit after half an hour.

This probably is how one ends up a blogger as an adult.

Thank you also for changing the way I'll think about Cosby Sweaters forever via your last post.

Artsy Fartsy said...

So, I took your recommendation and went to Leo's last night. Got a beautiful orange throw, a pink runner with all kinds of beautiful hand work, tons of cloth napkins, and a rolling pin. BTW, the green bowls are still there. And they are still a dollar!

ctygrltif said...

Wait-I need more info on the Jr. League place. Been meaning to check it out for years. What did your wife think of the clothes?

BetteDavisLies said...

You and the wife should take a weekend sojourn to the Jackson, TN Goodwill stores. (We have one on Carriage House in North Jackson and one on the Hwy. 45 Bypass in South Jackson.) Because there is no "scene" in Jackson, it follows that there are no hipsters, hence an abundance of good shit at our thrift stores. My husband and I found a vintage Reebok tank top (think Richard Simmons) that looks just precious on my man's hairy chest. It was only a dime.

You could also check out Lafayette Thrift in Downtown Jackson and, if you feel adventurous, there are a million good junk/thrift stores in Henderson just south of Jackson.

You should have bought those green bowls.

Courtney said...

so... I found your blog via a friendship with Miss Theogeo. I quite enjoy your thrift store rants and raves, even taking a trip to Leo's on Summer myself. I took home quite a few books, including the James Bond you pictured. They are resting happily in a box until I figure out where to store them.