Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Rock and a Hard Place: Thriftin' the North Shore

A few weeks ago, my life partner, Chris, and I took a trip up the "coast" (of Lake Superior) to the North Shore of Minnesota. This was a pretty major get-away as it was the first time in the six and a half years that we have been dating where we took a trip just the two of us. Needless to say, expectations were high.

Initial expectations included some thrifting on the way up north, which was thwarted by a later than expected departure time. I know, it seems pretty incomprehensible that moi would pass up any chance to thrift, but sometimes, when you just want to get to the wilderness, you just want to get to the wilderness. Happily, we discovered walking around the tiny town of Grand Marais on Sunday that there was a thrift store a mere three blocks from our hotel*. Unfortunately, like most thrift shops, this one was closed on Sundays, so I had to wait a WHOLE DAY to see what delights awaited!

Given the small size of both the shop and the community, I came away more than content with my finds. First, we have this unseasonable (that just means I have something to look forward to when spring comes again) pair of vintage highwaisted striped shorts. SCORE!

Then, the short sleeved button down sporting one of the most impressively insane patterns I have witnessed on such a piece.

The crème de la crème of thrifting in Grand Marais didn't come in fashion form, but instead in the form of old school pair of snowshoes I picked up for a cool benjamin**. This find was truly serendipitous as they had just dropped the price from $150 to a $100 and I had just been stating that some day I wanted to have a pair of my very own snowshoes.

With these finds in hand, I was feeling lucky. We took off soon after for an evening in Duluth, and, on the way, stopped at a rock shop (I am sucker for huge signs that exclaim "AGATES!"). There I found a precious little rock of labradorite, a mineral I have been coveting ever since Molly told me it had magical powers two years ago. Even though it was $7.50, it was beautiful, and I was on vacation, so I decided to treat myself.

Things were looking up. I had snow shoes, sweet 90's clothes, and a mesmerizing rock. The remainder of the trip I kept the rock close by, alternatively clutching it and cradling it in my lap, should I absorb some of its magical properties.

Then disaster, cloaked in treasure, hit. We stopped to get coffee at a little cafe/restaurant and low and behold, the second thrift store of the day!

Fat n Happy's.

Yes. I KNOW. Can you believe this shit? It is truly too good to be true!

And, unfortunately, it was.

As it turns out, Fat n Happy's was closed (no word on if it will reopen, but judging from the huge "FOR SALE! Be your own boss!" sign on the outside of it, things are not looking up for Fat n Happy's). The larger disappointment?

I was so excited about Fat n Happy's, so unable to contain my excitement, that I leapt out of the car and ran towards it, forgetting about MY ROCK. After figuring out that Fat n Happy's was closed and spending $12 on speciality chocolates, I was so distraught that it wasn't until we were about ten minutes away that I noticed that my rock...was missing. Ten more minutes passed until I, becoming increasingly panicky, was freaking out so much that Chris pulled to a wayside to search for my rock.

It was GONE.

My rock, which must have been on my lap, had been sprung into the parking lot of Fat n Happy's without me even noticing! Chris offered to go back for it, but tacking an additional 40 minutes onto a trip for a rock that may or may not still be in the Fat n Happy's parking lot was just too much. That didn't stop me from mourning my rock for the next day or so (it continues to weigh heavily on my heart***). The only thing that made me feel better was thinking that it was such a powerful rock, it couldn't be held down! And indeed, between all that clutching and cradling, I must have transferred part of myself to the rock, so it was only natural that it would do whatever it could to stay at Fat n Happy's thrift store, thereby permanently leaving part of my soul, a la a horcrux, at a thrift shop on the North Shore.

Not all was lost, however, as we did stop at a thrift shop in Pine City the next day and I found this totally amazing Woolrich patterned thick wool jacket, the only one I have seen to almost (almost) rival the BEST COAT EVER.

 Lesson to be learned: in the sport of thrifting, you win some and you lose some. But no matter what, be sure to keep track of your rocks!

* This wasn't that much of a shocker as everything in Grand Marais is three blocks from each other.

** "A BENJAMIN!? That isn't a DEAL!," You may be exclaiming to yourself. "I was promised deals!" Well, in the world of winter outdoor sports (something I have embraced the past few years to get through the season), a benjamin for old school snow shoes with bindings is, my friends, a deal. 

*** So...if anyone happens to find an oval shaped labradorite rock hanging out in the parking lot by Fat n Happy's, return information can be obtained by contacting me at (serious inquiries only, please).

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