Goodwill, Badwill, Questionable-will — Cheap Dressers, Power Ballad Statuettes and a Doggy Dish

by Katy on April 30, 2013 · 44 comments

Although I had a number of tasks on my to-do list yesterday, I was able to nip into a couple of thrift shops on my way to Winco. (Hello, $10-off $50 coupon!)

I’ve been keeping an eye out for a low dresser for awhile, as I want to reconfigure our bedroom for better feng shui to work a bit better. (My husband keeps a TV on a rolling cart, which I constantly bump into at night.) My thinking is that this style of dresser could accommodate a TV and eliminate a hazardous piece of furniture from our lives.

I liked this groovy mid-century dresser, but it was actually a pretty low quality specimen. Yes, it had dovetail drawers, but the top was actually laminate covered particle board, and the back piece was some kind of chipboard. I would have considered the purchase at $40 or less, but the $70 price tag was beyond my comfort zone.


And no visit to a thrift shop is complete without the requisite vase-covered-wth-florist’s-marbles.

These projects are ugly, they have always been ugly and they will always be ugly. So enough already!

C’mon people . . .

Marble vase

This statuette caught my eye, as her hands over ears positioning make her look like she’s about to start recording a power ballad.


You know, like this:


Oh, sorry. Got that wrong. I meant like this:


I try to not give gag gifts, but I know that others lean heavily in this direction. And if there ever was a product manufactured for no other reason than to be a joke it’s the “Freeloader Fork.” With telescoping handle, “The 2-ft. fork that lets you enjoy your meal, and everyone else’s too!”

Uh . . . pass.


The one thing that both caught my eye and came home with me with this vintage doggie change bowl. It’s meant to be on a man’s nightstand for his watch, spare change, etc. And although this one has seen better days, I couldn’t resist. And I couldn’t help but start humming this vintage ditty:

“How much is that doggie in the Goodwill?”


Dog Dish

Do you think I should have bought the dresser? I’m pretty much in the camp of only buying the stuff that is exactly what I want. The style is super on-trend right now, but I’m simply a snob about solid wood.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristen@TheFrugalGirl April 30, 2013 at 9:06 am

I’d hang out and wait for another dresser to show up. There’s lots of old furniture out there and if you can be patient enough, you’ll probably come across something that’s more exactly what you want.


Katy April 30, 2013 at 3:13 pm

I am wanting a mid-century one, as my house tends too accumulate too many humorless austere antiques.


Elaine in Ark April 30, 2013 at 9:10 am

A good dresser will last you 20 years or longer, if you’re like my family. My sister currently has a dresser & vanity that my parents bought at least 50 years ago. Even my folks wouldn’t have expected it to last that long. Keep looking until you find something you can love that long.

My brother would love the Freeloader’s Fork. My sister-in-law, not so much. (Why is it that some guys never ever grow up?)


Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares April 30, 2013 at 9:12 am

Nope, it was totally okay to leave behind the dresser. The telescoping fork, on the other hand….

And that girl covering her ears is supposed to have a boy playing saxophone to go along with her. You see them in antique shops all the time.


Sherry April 30, 2013 at 10:00 am

I say go for the dresser. We bought a similar dresser (new) in 1968 — and still have it. It has dovetail drawers, and a particle board back. The top is solid wood with a veneer. It still looks good after all these years, though I do think about painting it sometimes. Make sure the legs are sturdy. It sounds like just what you need, though it would be even better for less that $70.


John Benton April 30, 2013 at 10:16 am

Go back and get the dresser. It is better than anything that Ikea has. It looks like the wood is teak. Get some teak oil and rub it in the woodwork.


seabluelee April 30, 2013 at 10:20 am

If you loved everything else about it, buy it. Otherwise, I’d wait…the perfect one will turn up, and at the perfect price, too.

That telescoping fork reminded me of a gag gift my family gave me long ago. I hated to cook bacon because I always got spattered with hot grease, and it was a family joke that I would stand as far away as I could while tentatively reaching out with a fork to turn the bacon. For my birthday, they gave me an oven mitt that reached halfway to my elbow, and a special bacon tool — a table fork duct-taped to a broom handle!


Ma April 30, 2013 at 10:32 am

The dresser looks a lot like one in my sons’ room. It belonged to my hubby and probably his mom before that. It IS falling apart now, though, but I think that was just my hubby’s doing:)

I would like it better for less as well. Maybe you can talk them down.


Mandy April 30, 2013 at 10:33 am

I had almost the same dresser for a few years and I hated it! (Mine was the same line but had a door in the center with three drawers behind it). The dresser was sturdy but the drawer handles were obnoxiously difficult to grip. I’m not sure what the Mid-C Craigslist market is like for you, but I sold mine a few months ago for $220, so it could be a resale opportunity.


Katy April 30, 2013 at 1:36 pm

That occurred to me, although I wasn’t sure how much I could sell it for.



Kelsey April 30, 2013 at 10:51 am

My very quiet and reserved uncle brought the “free loader’s fork” to Thanksgiving a few years ago. Without saying a word he stretched out this ridiculous fork and began serving his food from the buffet table. I about died laughing. Good memories that fork.


PoppyEcho April 30, 2013 at 6:23 pm



Susan April 30, 2013 at 10:54 am

Think about what you would get for seventy bucks at ikea.


Katy April 30, 2013 at 1:37 pm

A lot of meatballs? 😉



Sherry April 30, 2013 at 3:11 pm



Kim April 30, 2013 at 11:35 am

You were able to walk away from the dresser so I’d say you didn’t love it enough to buy it – which means you should save your $70.00 for the perfect piece that awaits you on a future visit to Goodwill. Stay positive and keep looking.

I’m not a dog person, but that change holder is cute. Maybe you have a smaller glass or metal dish you can use as a liner – or maybe you have some awesome idea for it that I can’t even begin to imagine!


amy April 30, 2013 at 11:50 am

If you imagine the glass with florist marble vase being spray painted white, it looks similar to some Jonathan Adler bead vases×150/htmlzoom/R123W_agave_w.jpg

(not affiliated)
while not my taste, this is quite trendy and you could imagine re-selling them after you fixed them up white and make $ off of the trend.


Calico ginger April 30, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Nah, don’t buy the dresser – hold out for something you love, but maybe get mentally adjusted to paying a little more for it when it turns up.

I have had my TV on a turned-on-its-side retro-fitted wooden school music cupboard for years, its just perfect for the job!


Renee CA April 30, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Particle board and laminate? Could you live with that?


Su Mama April 30, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Please tell me the foto with the dressed-up pups wasn’t made from expired, taxidermied doggies.



cathy April 30, 2013 at 2:10 pm

I think if the dresser had been “right” you would have plunked down the $70. I’ve gotten to the point where I’d much rather do without than get something to make do.
A surprising amount of ’50s and ’60s furniture was made with laminate tops. I’d forgotten until I was researching a specific piece. Then I also remembered that my childhood dresser had a laminate top. Sometimes the piece is worth it, other times it’s just meh.


Elaine in Ark May 1, 2013 at 6:51 am

I’ve seen other bloggers rip the veneer off and stain the wood underneath. Of course, that all depends on what’s under the laminate.


Teq April 30, 2013 at 2:24 pm

call me weird but I like the vase with the marbles on it, i think its’ cute.


Elaine in Ark May 1, 2013 at 6:53 am

Especially if you put in a window and the sun shines through it!


Karen April 30, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Oh, now I’m going to have “How Much is that Doggie in the Window” running through my brain for the rest of the day.


AnnW April 30, 2013 at 2:50 pm

The dresser didn’t “smile at you” as they say in the diamond district. There is nothing wrong with a laminate top. It will be indestructible and easy to keep clean. Particle board backs are okay also. Call the store and see if they will reduce the price, or ask if they have a sale coming up, or have seniors day, or something like that. Some stores might mark down after a certain time. This modern design seems out of sync with your house. Keep looking, and tell everyone what you are looking for, it will appear. Ever think about wall mounting the TV? Love the dog! Ann


Katy April 30, 2013 at 2:53 pm

My TV is big, big, big and couldn’t be mounted to a wall.



PoppyEcho April 30, 2013 at 6:27 pm

I don’t understand this at all- laminate tops peel off!

I think particle board backs are fabulous though, makes the furniture so much less heavy and you can’t see it. I can carry my 1960’s book cases (about 5 feet long and 3 shelves high) by myself up 17 stairs.


Rebecca May 1, 2013 at 5:32 am

I think sometimes people get confused about laminate, it has been around for over 2oo years, also called veneer. What was used 50 years ago or more is much different that the plastic laminate that comes over cheap chip board in today’s cheapo furniture. Old school laminate is actually a thin layer of wood, often laid down over another piece of solid wood, just a less desirable one. They are durable and can be refinished. So while I wouldn’t buy a laminate piece of furniture from Walmart today, a piece of laminate furniture from the 30’s I would assuming it is in ok condition.


Katy May 1, 2013 at 6:34 am

Nope. This was plastic laminate.



tna April 30, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Passing on the dresser was good unless Don Drapper/John Hamm will be hanging out in your bedroom.

I love the fork. I would keep it with my retirement piggy bank for future use at the old folks home and when I went on bus trips to Branson. “Who took my broccoli dag nab it?!”


Practical Parsimony April 30, 2013 at 4:47 pm

The dining table and chairs I bought as a young newlywed in 1967 has a laminate wood grain top. Everything else is sturdy and solid wood. It looks as good today as it did then. has served as a kitchen table all these years because I did not want the kitchen dinettes of the 60s in my house. From what I have observed, laminates from that era are better than the ones now. Plus, it actually looks like wood.

If it gets the tv out of the floor, then you can take your time finding what you really want and sell this one. I hate running into furniture. I have a group of tiny spider veins on my thigh where I ran into he end of my bed for six years. I blame the collisions for the spider veins. So, I get the running into things in the night bit.


Vivian April 30, 2013 at 5:23 pm

Katy you made the right choice about the dresser. You will find one that does not have press board. I remember a Christmas dinner where two of the guests had the free loader forks. It was very funny as long as they stayed away from my turkey dressing. lol And yes the picture of the dogs was very cute and worth picking up.


Katy April 30, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Too funny!



Jean April 30, 2013 at 6:11 pm

I’m with the crowd that thinks you made the right choice to walk away from the dresser at that price–maybe if it had been solid wood. The best furniture prices I’ve seen around here lately on stuff from that era have been at estate sales not run by the professionals, but by the families. Haven’t found the 6-8 dining room chairs I’m looking for yet, but am willing to wait for the right ones at the right price!


AFS April 30, 2013 at 7:43 pm

concerning the dresser: I agree with the majority of other readers, you did the right thing to walk away from that one.
Every time I have “settled” , it never fails that the “perfect” shows up soon afterwards.
Wait for the one you love.


Debra May 1, 2013 at 1:24 am

Yup. You made the right call on the dresser. I think you would end up regretting the $70 spent.


Vicky May 1, 2013 at 4:18 am

Hi Katy! Thought you would be interested to know that the Goodwill near me just sold an Atari game for $7.99 that the buyer now has listed on e-bay. Last bid was for $22,000!!!! bucks! Cool huh! Now, of course, my DH wants to go thrifting with me 😉


Katy May 1, 2013 at 6:34 am

I am interested in that information! What was the game?



Vicky May 3, 2013 at 6:22 am
JaneUlness May 1, 2013 at 7:02 am

You need a little shallow bowl for the dog. It wasprobably an ashtray???? As far as the dresser. Every time I have settled for almost….I have wound up finding the thing I really wanted and having to sell or repurpose the thing that I bought first. If it solves a problem. Buy it and watch for what you do want….and sell the old one when yu find what you want.


Karen Rickers May 1, 2013 at 7:45 am

I have that exact dresser!!!

Of course, I got it for nothing at my favourite furniture store … The Side of the Road.

And really, I do mean … the side of the road.

I considered it well worth the price, but, like you, would have passed it by in a second with the $70 price tag!


Alisha May 2, 2013 at 10:33 pm

I would hold out for one you LOVE, preferably one you found on the curb which is how I have acquired all of our dressers. Good Luck.


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