A few months ago Malcolm and I took a trip to Cortez, Colorado. Besides seeing the sights, I was the most excited about the possibility of thrifting. Thrifting is often at its best (and worst, honestly) in small town America. Treasures from old farm houses often yield an interesting haul, and I was excited to see the Cortez thrifting scene.
As expected, I was pleasantly surprised as well as flabbergasted. Sometimes when I thrift, I get a feeling like there’s something good for me to find. And when I get that feeling, I don’t stop searching until I find the item, almost a compulsion. I went to many thrift stores. There was one in particular that I enjoyed, a small Ecumenical thrift shop. I bought a set of five brass candle sticks all of different sizes for $1 each. What really caught my eye, however, were three perfectly sized canisters with gorgeous colored mushrooms. The thing that gave me pause was it was in the same section as other items in a silent auction. I was going to be six hours away in Colorado Springs by the time they announced the winner. And this little shop did not look like it had the capacity to ship very delicate items across the state. I sighed and turned my back on them.
And I didn’t stop thinking about them. I continued my search but found nothing that even came close to the quality or charm of the canisters. I did, however, find items for sale that harkened back the time of Sambo and fetishizing people of color. Racist artifacts that looked freshly manufactured.
The day before we left, I decided to go back for the mushies. I was prepared to pay more than I would normally spend in a thrift shop. I just HAD to have the canisters. If nothing else, I would pay for shipping and hope the store would be kind enough to ship it.
As I sauntered into the shop, I immediately saw they were still in the glass display case at the front, guarded by someone named Velma. I approached Velma to ask about the magical cookie-jar-like containers armed with my prepared speech about offering money and shipping. She said, “Oh, I’m sorry, those are for the silent auction. You can bid on them if you like.” I braced myself for my rehearsed monologue when another woman came over to tell us that they were not part of the silent auction, and they were for sale. I lit up and asked how much they cost. She flipped up a little white tag that read “$13”. I began calculating the cost for three at $13. Then Velma confirmed it was $13 for all three. I could not believe my absolute dumb luck.
Just to give some context, these mushroom jars were made in 1951, as the artist who made them signed at the bottom. The signature reads “Arnell” who produced these beauties. Arnell is famous for the 70s kitchen pottery that uses a lot of red, orange, and brown. I have never seen colors quite like these, and I still can’t find one online. The canister set usually goes for at least $100 if not more and they are almost always not in this good of shape.
These are my vintage pride and joy. If you ask me if I carry photos in my wallet of loved ones, I’ll show you these jars. Well, not really. But that’s the level of joy these bring me every morning when I go to make coffee.
What’s your best shopping find?