Thrift Store Finds

5/27/2015 by D. Cammarota

Thrift Store Finds

Checking out local thrift stores for bargains on clothing, electronics, furniture and houshold goods has always been a fun and smart way to save money. But, below are five amazing stories of people who got much more than they bargained for at thrift stores around the country:

1. An 81 year-old South Carolina man was visiting a Massachusetts thrift shop when he came across a $3 painting that he thought may have been worth a hundred bucks or so because the frame looked to be from the 19th century. "Leroy" as he wishes to be called, was right - the frame was about 300 years old, but what he learned when he took the painting to the Antique Road Show, was that so too, was the painting. As it turned out, the piece was a work from Amsterdam c. 1650 done in the Flemish School style. The folks at the road show appraised the painting for $25,000, but everyone - mostly Leroy - was astonished when it fetched $190,000 at auction. Way to go Leroy!

2. Three SUNY students in New York purchased a $20 sofa from a neighboring Salvation Army thrift store. As they began to go about cleaning the sofa, strange lumps and bumps began to pique their interest. As they pulled apart the suspicious areas of the sofa, bundles of cash began to appear - $44,000 in all. The starving studentd were, of course, elated, but since there was a name attached to some of the cash, they knew the right thing to do was to contact the person. As it turned out, the money was the entire life-savings of a New York widow and so the money was returned. The widow was so grateful, she gave each of the students $1000.00. Who says New Yorkers don't have heart?

3. A Tennessee couple combing a Goodwill thrift store in North Carolina came upon what they thought was just a very well-made sweater for the price of 58 cents. After watching a documentary on the late, great Vince Lombardi - the former head coach of the Green Bay Packers who led the team to five National Championships and two Superbowl wins - they realized he was wearing the exact same sweater. After a visit to Heritage Auctions, they realized that it was, in fact, a West Point sweater owned by Lombardi and the couple scored a whopping $43,000. Now that is a champion find!

4. There are a couple of good Declaration of Independence stories - one of which was from a flea market in Adamstown, PA. A lesser-known story is that of Michael Sparks who, unlike the Adamstown couple (who found the document hidden in the back of a painting) knew that he was purchasing a copy of the document for $2.48 - but thought it was surely one of the millions of reprints. What Sparks didn't know is that he, like the PA couple, purchased one of the original 200 copies of the Declaration of Independence - of which only 36 copies are known to exist. His $2.48 investmentment was appraised at $250,000, but sold at auction for a glorious $477,650. America really is the land of opportunity!

5. At a thrift store just outside Columbus, Ohio, a young man named Zachary Bodish found what he thought was a very cool copy of a 1958 poster promoting an exhibition of Picasso's lesser-known ceramic sculptures. Yes, there was some random scribble at the bottom, but he loved the poster enough to spend the $14.14 the thrift store was asking. Well, Zachary certainly made the right decision because the poster was actually an original and that random doodle was Picasso's signature. The poster pulled in a cool $7k at auction and while it may not be a life-changing windfall, it's certainly nothing to sneeze at. That's some artful buying there Zachary! You are the poster child of great thrift store finds.

If these wonderful stories of hidden fortunes don't convince you to hit up your local thrift stores regularly, we don't know what will.

Happy treasure hunting!


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