Weird or Amazing? It’s at Goodwill

by Katy on July 12, 2016 · 16 comments

This post first appeared over at

When you shop at a traditional retailer such as Target or Macy’s, you already have a pretty good idea what you’re going to find in the store. Clothing? Check. Housewares? Check. Luggage? Check.

Such is not the case when shopping at a Goodwill or other thrift stores. Sure, you’ll find clothing, housewares and luggage, but if you’re lucky you just might stumble upon the rare or unusual. And occasionally you might even happen upon the truly bizarre or disgusting.

For example, you might be tempted to put this preowned whip into your shopping cart:
Goodwill whip
Of course, not all thrift store merchandise is quite so fifty shades of cringeworthy. Sometimes it’s nothing more than an unfortunate craft project, like these glued together dishes featuring hideous florist marble details. It’s times like this that you wish some responsible citizen had stepped forward to instruct the crafter to “step away from the hot glue gun!”
florist marble dishes
Not the crafty type? Then maybe this cremated cat is more your style. And before you ask if this is an actual cremated cat, let me share that I did indeed shake the box and yes, it really did sound exactly like it was full of feline ash and bone fragments.
Poor kitty.
Cremated cat
Cremated remains, both feline and human are not an uncommon donation according to Dale Emanuel, public relations manager for Goodwill Industries of the Columbia Willamette. Citing that Goodwill receives “lots of urns,” as well as dentures, artificial limbs and even a human skull once, although it was marked “for scientific purposes.”
Before you start thinking that your local thrift store offers nothing more than the morbid and tacky, let me point out the endless stories of people who’ve scored priceless treasures for pennies on the dollar. Like this man who resold a $5.99 Goodwill watch for $35,000 or this woman who sold a $9.99 painting for $27,000! Even Good Morning America’s Lara Spencer found a pair of original Picasso etchings at her Salvation Army for a mere $35!
Luckily, most of the truly bizarre and disgusting donations get caught before they’re priced and out on the floor. And certain categories of donations even get routed to where they can be best used or disposed of properly, such as taxidermic animals to wildlife education centers or flags to the American Legion.
I enjoy the thrill of the hunt when it comes to thrift store shopping. Whether it’s bargains on the necessities for my home, or that elusive million dollar painting, I’ll continue to thrift for my needs. After all, you never know if your next big score is hiding between a whip and a cremated cat!
Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Christian July 12, 2016 at 11:37 am

But did you buy the whip? Inquiring minds want to know!


A. Marie July 12, 2016 at 12:03 pm

LMAO over this post. Thanks, Katy, for being what you always are–a day-brightener.

Possibly my local thrifts are fairly careful in what they put on their sales floors, but I can’t claim to have seen any urns, artificial limbs, etc. Still, my neighborhood cleanup crew and I did once find a denture (upper plate) during an Earth Day event.

And while I also can’t claim to have found any Picasso etchings at my locals, I have come up with my share of Wedgwood plates and so on–not to mention 90% of DH’s and my wardrobes. (Like Katy, I do still insist on buying new underwear, and I have to be a bit more careful about shoes these days. But for everything else we can wear, it’s secondhand for us.)


JD July 12, 2016 at 12:06 pm

I have yet to find the cremains (that’s what we call them) of any animal, person, mineral or vegetable at my Goodwill, and for that, I am quite happy.
What I was on the hunt for at my Goodwill was an odd item — some sort of little holder for my husband’s glucose meter, lancet device, and test strips. He keeps them on a table by his easy chair when home, and they always ended up looking like clutter and getting scattered. My Goodwill finally produced such an item — a sided tray, about 2.5 inches by 4 inches, divided lengthwise down the middle, with a tiny handle, all of finished wood. It’s not handcrafted. We have no idea what its original use could have been, but it was just what we needed. His meter stuff fits exactly in it, and it was 99 cents. The weird finds at Goodwill are great! I like Katy’s weird finds best, because they are always wild and funny!


kathleen July 13, 2016 at 7:17 pm

I wonder if it’s a playing card caddy? Glad it works for what you needed it for.


Mrs. Picky Pincher July 12, 2016 at 12:12 pm

OMG the cremated cat!!!

I’m also a crazy lady who cremates her pets, and it makes me kind of sad to see a beloved pet resting on a Goodwill shelf. 🙁

I think it’s important to not buy these funny or crazy things at thrift stores, though! Sometimes I would fall prey to a “Oh what the hell, it’s funny” attitude. And that’s how you get a Mr. T alarm clock.

I’ve found that Goodwill is helpful for buying cheap bulk fabric for my sewing projects, though!


Allison July 12, 2016 at 1:25 pm

This reminded me of my mom. She had a yard sale once and had some cookie tins out for sale. A woman picked them up and they rattled. When my mom opened it, she found her grandmother’s false teeth inside. 🙂


Jennifer July 12, 2016 at 2:56 pm

Wow, that whip looks really worn, lol.


Marie-Josée July 12, 2016 at 4:53 pm

I kind of like the bejeweled cake stand – a bit aquatic themed!


Krystal July 12, 2016 at 5:15 pm

A friend and I collect “pet memorial” mugs. It started in our old office, when the previous business left behind a lot of kitchen supplies, including 2 dead pet mugs. The wordings and artwork always make me laugh, even as I have lost my own pets. My favorite was the Westie with the name was written in quotes. Allegedly, they lived and allegedy, that was the dogs name? My friend has a recent find at the Eugene(?) Goodwill, a rabbit memorial mug.

Memorial pet mugs are a great way to honor a passed on companion for a year or two before they get donated.


Deb July 12, 2016 at 6:17 pm

I would have bought the cat just to set him/her free.


cathy July 12, 2016 at 10:04 pm

hey, hey, get your mind out of the gutter! You need a whip when your kid decides he wants to dress up as Indiana Jones for Halloween! I found ours at the costume shop. Looks exactly like the one in Katy’s photo.


Jen@FrugalSteppingStones July 13, 2016 at 5:05 am

My Goodwill seems incredibly tame. I have never found anything more wild than a feather boa.


Vickie July 13, 2016 at 7:44 am

Someone’s poor pet got donated? How sad. Geez, I believe that’s called dumping instead of donating.

I think, often times rental houses or the homes of deceased persons (w/o a will perhaps) get cleared out by someone who just wants rid of the junk, but doesn’t want to throw it away. I scored 3 signed prints of a well known Native artist in our area for $3 each and a Bavarian chaffing dish. Not worth as much as the stuff you mentioned, but at least 10x more than what I paid. You have to know what you’re looking at in order to get the big wins.
Happy Hunting!! 🙂


Denise July 13, 2016 at 9:06 am

What the dickens is a chaffing dish??


JD July 13, 2016 at 9:56 am

A dish with a source of heat, such as a tiny alcohol burner, under it to keep the food warm. Like you see at buffets at weddings and stuff.


Kim July 13, 2016 at 1:23 pm

I’ve never found any body parts or cremated remains in all of my thrift store shopping over the years.

I did find a wonderful engraving at the now closed Salvation Army thrift store. It was marked $3.99 and when I got to the counter I was told it was 1/2 price, so I paid $1.99. It is titled “The Ohio River, Hanover College” and it’s in a beautiful birds eye maple frame.

I knew it was probably 19th century so I decided to do some research. I discovered that it was engraved A.H. Ritchie who is famous for his prints from the Civil War. It was painted by Miss Jane Hamilton and seemed to have been done in about 1870. I also found that a copy was in the collection of the Kentucky Historical Society and the Indianapolis Museum of Art. I spoke with a curator at the IMA and she led me to some reputable Fine Arts auction sites in order to do further research. The lowest price I could find for any of Ritchie’s prints was $750.

Where is it you may wonder? Hanging on my living room wall where it brings a smile to my face whenever I look at it!


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