feat_treas_jeff_alexandria

Simple and easy

JEFF Our first stop was right up on Congress Street, where, at 604 Thrift, I made my way among the racks and shelves, waiting for something to grab my attention. (I almost never browse when shopping; my style is more surgical-strike, with a specific item, and often price, in mind before leaving home.) I poked at the books, the used CDs, and some of the assorted trinketry; there was some interesting stuff, but nothing that grabbed me. On my second trip through the downstairs, I paused and looked up in semi-exasperation. There, right on the wall in front of me, I scored, spying a mounted lithograph of colonial Alexandria, Virginia (a DC suburb), where I have family. They're the type who love history and like a wide variety of art on the walls; a light-touch image of the past will go smartly in a quiet corner. For just $3.14, I was well on my way.

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At Goodwill, I found a few things that were funny to make jokes out of (or story ideas: see the "Gifts for the 99 Percent" piece in the Gift Guide supplement!) or marvel at the provenance of. I'm no shopper; perhaps my subconscious was telling me that I needed a good, stiff drink if I was to keep this up. So I stuck to glassware — of which there is a frighteningly broad selection, most (but not all) of which comes in pairs or matching sets. With some focus, and not a few scary encounters with patterns no glazier should ever have imagined, I made good again, finding a pair of very nice tall glasses that are perfect for cold cocktails on hot summer days. They're the right heft, shape, volume, color — and price. I'll give them to one of my very favorite hot-summer-day-drinking pals, perhaps with some gin, tonic, and a lime. Maybe I won't even drink it before wrapping it! At $2.08 (99 cents plus tax per glass), I was barely a quarter of the way through my sawbuck, and had two decent gifts to show.

Sure enough, the universe told me I should quit then — I struck out at the ReStore entirely, though Nick, Deirdre, and I did enjoy checking out the extremely varied collection of furniture and kitchen appliances.

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The following week's excursion proved fruitful for me again. After what seemed endless hours of meandering in massive rooms with overwhelming piles of schlock (and, it must be said, a goodly amount of decent stuff) at Arundel Antiques, I spotted a small carved wooden loon (signed by the carver, the price tag helpfully informed). It's a nice little reminder of our family's annual time on a loon-haunted New Hampshire lake, and I'm hoping it'll go well on the windowsill of the room of the youngest attendee. It was $5.25, more than the cost of the print and the cocktail glasses combined, but I'm hoping it'll go over well.

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I also found some stocking stuffers: Arundel Antiques has at least two (and maybe more; the place is massive) rotating displays of magnets, which are $2 each, or three for $5 (I think there are bigger discounts for even larger quantities). I was able to locate three — one of penguins, another of Portland Head Light, and a third of loons — that will do nicely as tiny tidbits to spice up Christmas morning.

All that and I still had $4.28 left over. Gotta find another place to hunt!

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