Haines has one of the best second hand stores you could ever want. Owned and operated by a friendly proprietor who really only does it to entertain himself in the off hours of his real job, caring for his aging parents, it is a treasure trove of ever-changing, capital S Stuff.
The store may or may not have an official name. It might be “The Garage Sale Store,” but most seem to call it for its owner, simply “Ralph’s.”
I love going there. We find a lot of things we need at prices we can afford; Ralph’s fun to visit with, as are the other customers, many of whom we know, some we’ve come to know after sharing a comfortable conversation among strangers in Ralph’s shop.
There’s a particular reason, though, that I appreciate the store. For me, it’s a Museum of Lost Desires.
I recently returned to the store after a long absence. Aly and I found a few things we needed, but I enjoyed the other items even more, things that I once had a keen interest in acquiring, but never got around to.
I love stuff. That makes it hard to be frugal. But, browsing The Garage Sale Store reminds me of just how far I’ve come.
That day I found a fancy, Italian style espresso maker that I’d seriously considered buying once upon a time, just before settling for my stove top espresso maker (also Italian, but far less intricate and expensive than the item I’d considered). Finding the machine at Ralph’s would have been a huge score, as whatever he was asking for it (I didn’t even look) would be a fraction of what I would have paid new back then.
I also found a mug that I’d once wanted rather badly, although not enough to buy it. The shape of it, and the drink it advertised (recipe included on the side of the mug) appealed to me once. I’d forgotten all about it until I saw it on the store shelf.
There are several shaving mugs in the store. When I began using an old-fashioned shaving brush, I searched for a mug much like these. Ralph’s prices are affordable, unlike what I found during my search. Since that time, I’ve settled on a plastic ware container that, while not as pretty and stylish as an antique shaving mug, does the job better, and can easily be sealed for travel. Michelle wanted me to choose one as a gift, but I declined—they’re beautiful, but I honestly don’t need one anymore.
The list goes on. Every visit reveals desirable objects from my former life. It’s nostalgic and somewhat bittersweet. Mostly sweet, as I am reminded of how many times I’ve foregone a purchase, and realize how little those acquisitions would mean to me now.
You will find a version of the essay above, as well as writing on similar and related topics in the ebook, Sacred Coffee: A “Homesteader’s” Paradigm by Mark A. Zeiger. The ebook version will likely be expanded, clarified, or updated from what you have just read.