Monday, August 22, 2011


The Best Worst Stuff People Tried to Sell at the Junk Shop

I work in a junk shop in a far northside neighborhood in Chicago. We buy, sell, trade ... the whole nine. The “buy” part means we get plenty of characters looking to unload stuff for cash. Sometimes itʼs awesome stuff like antique silver, World War II memorabilia, or vintage furniture, but other times itʼs a trash bag full of empty DVD cases and an open package of Kotex Overnight Ultra Thin With Wings.

Weʼll also buy things in lots because there might be a valuable necklace, vintage toy, or first edition book in the box, but outside of that one thing weʼre left with a bunch of crap. And so Iʼve chosen some of the best extras we've declined just for you Hairpinners. So here. Enjoy “The Best Worst Stuff People Tried to Sell at the Junk Shop.”

1. “Secrets” VHS Tape: Something called “Mellow Mail” featuring lingerie all flaccid on a bed, or lingerie on a lady? Either way some Dad labeled it “Secrets.”

2. Peace Sign Personal Massager: This thing isnʼt for your lats. Six inches max and the fingers donʼt vibrate? Frustrating.

3. Slogan Buttons: Ask me about... ALOE. Aloe.

4. Slogan Rock: What kind of business slips you a slogan rock?

5. “The Nanny” Talking Doll: No words, really.

6. Helpful Book, What Is A WIFE: “A wife is a girl whose dolls are wrapped in tissue and packed away...a fragile link with girlhood, so treasured and so forgotten.”

7. Funny Answer Machine Messages Cassette: “Phone thing. You made my phone ring. Now tell me everything. Talk to my phone thing. Phone thing, I think I love yah.” Phone thing!

8. Inflatable Lava Larry: 40 inches of lava lamp, or it is an inflatable College Roommate, Coat Rack, Body Guard, Fun Date…

9. Novelty Watch: Look at this watch. Look again! At the face part! It’s a Pepperidge Farm Gravy watch! So special. Meat gravy.

Libby Alexander also runs a pop-up flea market in Chicago.

83 Comments / Post A Comment


I would take that doll. She's the lady in red when everyone else is wearing tan.


@parallel-lines You mean that flashy girl from Flushing?


@jams Cleaning up your life is a hard task to do. Somehow, you wake up one morning and you ask yourself, when did it all become so complicated? The nicest things come in small packages though, like summer fragrances, just because someone thought of you or maybe you thought of someone, and a slow turning, a small gift counts for billions.


@parallel-lines Definitely cleaning up is a hard task to do, but if you browse promotional products of organizing and also purchase some office supplies, you can definitely keep track of everything that is going on in your business.


omg "9. Novelty Watch: Look at this watch. Look again! At the face part! It’s a Pepperidge Farm Gravy watch! So special. Meat gravy."

Snorted my beverage through my nose.

Ham Snadwich

@CrescentMelissa Was the beverage also gravy?


@Ham_Snadwich I wish! No it was my stupid tea.


@CrescentMelissa I give it approx. 2 days before I see someone wearing this in Williamsburg


@alliepants (It's just so, like, authentic, you know? Authentic but then no one expects to see it. TOTALLY original, yet, like, disaffected. I'd say I wear it because I don't give a shit but I don't care about anything enough to say that.)


@alliepants really? and I just thought it was so funny. Like funny as in who would want this? But I guess I just got served. I am so not cool!


I could never work at a junk shop because I would take all this cool shit home.


@QuiteAimable I could never work at a junk shop, because my allergies would go INSANE. All that dust from other people's houses…my nose is itching just thinking about it. (I can only handle vintage clothing shops for about 10 minutes before I start sneezing like crazy. Such a bummer.)


@QuiteAimable I have to be very restrained when I go into Value Village for this reason, particulary w/r/t the book section, because I have brought home, to name a few, a first edition of this book, and "A Man, A Can, and A Plan", which I mean, really.


@VictorVictrola What and where is this Value Village that you speak of?! I am a sucker for used junk stores.


@VictorVictrola VALUE VILLAGE! one of the few things I miss about Houston!! except I won't allow myself to go there anymore because I keep clearing out their dishware section and I can't stop. I have THREE complete plate sets! and so many earthenware bake accessories. I have a problem.


@QuiteAimable Different small towns all across Canada warming my heart. A roadtrip must-stop.


@VictorVictrola A few years ago I picked up "Why Cats Paint" at Goodwill - best coffee table book EVER!


@QuiteAimable hey now- my mom got me A MAN A CAN A PLAN for my first college cookbook. the recipes are.... well, let's end it there. i just like that it's one of those pre-school style chunky page books and the whole thing is shaped like a can.


I want that talking The Nanny doll so bad. I feel like I could consult it for a lot of personal decisions.


Let me know when you come across the orientation video for Dharma Station #XX, The Lamp Post.

major disaster

Am I the only one who never knew that there was such a thing as a junk shop in the first place? All this time I could have sold all the crap I just throw away? (Granted, I assume you get, like, about five cents for it, but still, that's five cents you didn't have before.)


@major disaster Um you shouldn't throw it away anyway. Donate used items (usable items) too Goodwill, Salvation Army, The Purple Heart... Did you know they re-sell unsellable clothing as rags?! Divert your crap from landfills. I get so mad when I see perfectly good items in the trash.

Miss Zarves

Roommate, punching bag, party companion, sure. But I didn't know "flower child" was a thing that I need. AND I think Larry would make a terrible bodyguard, unless he was guarding me from getting laid.


I do not believe you when you say that these items are not worth millions.


Oh. I thought the peace sign personal massager was flashing the shocker. Too bad.

The Lady of Shalott

Well, now I'm curious! What IS a wife? What secrets are in that weird pink book that I am now missing out on?


@The Lady of Shalott I had the same question! I feel that I am missing valuable information by not owning that book.


@The Lady of Shalott This is my request to Libby to write another article on the contents of What Is A Wife. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE.


The Fran doll kind of looks like Billy Zane in Titantic dressed as a Star Trek bad guy.

tea tray in the sky.

@cosmia. Oh my god. Nailed it.

army ferrari

Gravy watch? Gravy watch!!


One time I bought a VC Andrews book at a thrift store, and inside I found a handwritten Dear John letter from a woman leaving her husband, and I thought geez...this is the book that inspired you to leave? Was it all the cousin sex?


"John, I'm leaving you to go back - back to Foxworth Hall, where we spent so many lonely, dark days as children in that attic."


@parallel-lines "Dear John, I have to leave because it has recently been revealed to me that you are in fact both my biological half-uncle AND my step-great-uncle, as prior to my mother's death in child birth in the Willies she was actually raped by her mother's husband, thus my step-grandfather is actually my Dad, making my grandmother also my step-mother? I am confused. But anyway, our love it cannot be, despite your shitty poetry."


@parallel-lines This is by far the best thing I have ever heard. I love VC Andrews! Download her audiobooks if you want to spend a hilarious time at work listening to extremely f*cked up shit.


@parallel-lines Did you send it to that Found Magazine website? Please say YES!


My friend totally has that answering machine tape! He collects stupid/weirdo tapes and records, though. He also has this, which I think is the crown of his collection.


@ilikemints AAAAAAAHHHHH!! I wasn't mentally prepared for that.


@jenergy: Dude could do a hell of a Hairpin salute with that thing, though.

so what?

@ilikemints it took me a second to see the hook and now i cannot stop laughing. co-workers are a-staring and i still can't stop. oh god, monday. but really. THAT HOOK. i'm a moooooonster.



What is on that record? What does it sound like? Find a way to share that with the WORLD.


@ilikemints Also: "Jeff" in quotation marks. Like maybe you need some clarification regarding the autograph, and/or he's in the witness protection program.

Hot mayonnaise

That gravy watch is part some sort of hipster wet dream, I'd say.


Best thing I ever saw on the Craigslist Free listings for Santa Cruz, CA: used birthing pool.

Runner-up: live goats.


@figwiggin Worst thing: dead cats :(


Worst? Why, you can cure warts with em! I bought this one here with a blue ticket and a bladder I got at the slaughterhouse!

fondue with cheddar

Mellow Mail is a mail order catalog for naughty adult stuff. If they're anything like Adam & Eve, the video was probably a free gift with purchase.


That "friendly service" rock would be PERFECT to nail rude customers in the head with, if that weren't, like, assault. Could you imagine? Someone shouting at you about something-something-retail and BING, hit in the head with friendly service.

Hot mayonnaise

@mouthalmighty: Especially if the text was mirrored and would leave a "Friendly Service" welt.


Oh man, I worked in buy/sell/trade clothing for years. Clothing, people! Very obviously a clothing store! Yet people always tried to sell us awkward/gross non-clothing items. Like their taxidermied dog. Or vibrators.

Hot mayonnaise

@micalala: What's become of our society when we will 'taxiderm' a dead vibrator?


I am SO DISTURBED that someone tried to sell you that vibrator. If I'd opened a bag full of random crap and pulled that out I'd be showering for a week D:


@glitterary I got a blowup sheep as a joke gift once. It was from a GARAGE SALE. It was definitely moist up there.


@Megan Patterson@facebook NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!11!!1 Seriously, thank god for Ask A Clean Person, because I suddenly have the urge to disinfect EVERYTHING.

Mrs. Brown's Lovely Daughter

@Megan Patterson@facebook This begs the question: Why did you check!?!?!!?


man i hope you're referring to that store The Treasure Chest at granville and broadway, that place is the jam/a wasteland, depending on your state of mind. though, apparently i haven't been looking closely enough

peachy lefever



I had a yard sale with two of my girlfriends a couple weeks ago, and one of them brought two old vibrators and a bunch of porn DVDs to sell. At first my other friend and I kept hiding the vibrators, but as the morning (and the case of Tecate we had with us) progressed, we put them out amongst the tchotchke. No one bought them (weird), but plenty of people picked them up to examine them. One woman said "What is that, a melted candle?" and started to pick it up but dropped it like it was on fire when she realized what it was.
Good times.


@schadenfraulein Oh, and the porn did sell - one guy bought most of it, mixed in with a few "regular" DVDs. My friend was trying to count how many he had so she could give him a price and he yelped "There's eleven!!"


"No, no, it's totally good, I ran one of those Swiffer dusters over it just last week. Want me to show you?"


A friend of mine who works in a thrift store documents the best of the donations: http://whatifoundatworktoday.tumblr.com/
Latest favorite: http://whatifoundatworktoday.tumblr.com/post/8346582476/gloria-steinem-too-heavy



Not just whatever the hell kind of food you're imagining! There was FLAN on the cover! Why??? Tell me why?!?


@quatsch OMG you made my LIFE right there.


I used to work for about a year and a half at a swanky ladies' sex shop (think Good Vibrations, not Joez Videoz) and people came in all the time with used sex toys that they wanted to return. The answer was always, obviously, "NOOOOOOO, NEVER COME BACK" but we had to keep sterile gloves under the counter anyway because sometimes people would just leave them there.


Libby Alexander, can I come work for your Dad?! This sounds like the awesomest job ever.


I really want to ask someone about aloe now.

OH! unless it's for its diuretic properties, in which case, I do not want to hear about aloe at all.


Why, button, I DID come alive on January 27th! So nice of you to remember my birthday.


But how will my dolls drink their tea if they're wrapped up in paper? Why are you trying to take them away? I DON'T WANT TO BE YOUR STUPID WIFE ANYMORE.


you need a e-bay side business fast!

dracula's ghost

My friend gave me this insane pamphlet from the 50's called something like "Making Your Wife a Widow" (absolutely unintentional double entendre) that is all about "how can you make sure your wife won't just run amok and slam her finger in the window and crash the car and go immediately bankrupt once you die? Here are some helpful tips," and the tips are, like, writing things down on a note so she won't forget to pay the property taxes or whatever, or, like, "talk to your attorney about setting up a trust that will only pay her what she needs per month so she doesn't blow her inheritance on hats." It's such an amazing window into a forgotten time--women LITERALLY being seen as children, like imagine all these dudes being genuinely worried that if they die their wife will not be able to care for herself in the most basic fucking ways.

Of course there's no accompanying pamphlet about making your husband a widower where a woman explains what a stove is writes helpful notes reminding him of their children's names.


I want to read that What is a wife book- what else is in it?? Scans please!

Beck Rea@facebook


My mom HAS that "what is a wife" book,
and I remember it being HORRIBLE--
Vagisil ad illustrations,
and all the men were wearing stalker-tastic turtlenecks.

Sure as hell didn't make me want to go anywhere near wife-ing.


@Beck Rea@facebook and? AND? WHAT IS IN IT?


The Ask me about ALOE button sold, you guys. :( or :)

igor rew@twitter

I thought the peace sign personal massager was flashing the shocker.
thanks for comments



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here in the post for the media whose duty it is to find out what the government does and write about it or report on it on a continuous basis Regionalio Website


Excellent ! This is wonderful blog post.I might try to write a book to go along with my blog, but I will see bubblegum casting


that, a melted candle?" and started to pick it up but dropped it like it was on fire when she realized what it was Seo Barcelona


When starting a new business, it is always good to check out these kind of stores. You might find some interesting office supplies, as seen in the Rocket Docket store. And you can save money and time. It is also environmentally friendly.


@Ritso And furthermore, you can always donate your old stuff, that you no longer use, and create opportunities for others to buy and bargain for instance, for street pianos in NY, at a very good price.


Trying to get rid of a printer, some battery packs and an old PDA, without simply throwing them in the black bag. How does one recycle electronics ethically in big cities? Some browsing led me to PerfData.com, but if anyone can provide some information about the city of Fargo, it would be greatly appreciated.


Some women really enjoy treasure hunting through these kind of stores. The mom-wife role they actually embrace and they do it in an elegant manner. For more information and tips on being a classy mom, and at the same time a feminist, you should definitely check some articles out from several sites.

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