Tucson’s yard sales may often be mediocre and its garbage picking slim, but we have tons of fun stuff hanging out at thrift shops.

BeautyBoy was a glorious find at Desert Dust on South Alvernon Way/Ryn Gargulinski

BeautyBoy was a glorious find at Desert Dust on South Alvernon Way/Ryn Gargulinski

Cheap prices are just one of the thrills of frequenting these places. Others include unique items, vintage finds and a lamp we now call BeautyBoy.

This ornate and garishly delightful gold cupid lamp stands about 5 feet tall atop a heavy gold stand and features a 2-foot gold lampshade.

It has become the centerpiece of my living room and I can no longer imagine the room without it. BeautyBoy was also a special gift from a special person, making it even more enchanting.

Thrift store tips:

Don’t buy:

* Used underwear, used socks or dentures
* Things that have non-working zippers – c’mon, no matter how well meaning you are, you know you’re never going to get it fixed.
* Stuff that doesn’t fit – a case in point was a pair of size 4 antique buckle shoes, which were technically purchased at a mondo garage sale in Michigan, that I tried to wear on my size 8 feet. Never again.

Look for:

* Daily deals many shops offer where a certain color tag will be discounted 50 percent
* Really cheap sheets, pillowcases and tablecloths for fabric crafts, outdoor furniture and creating Lucky Voodoo Dolls
* Items no one else would dare wear
* Jeans and leather jackets that come already broken in
* Underarm stains

My fave Tucson thrift shops:

Savers – various locations around town
Why it rocks: One of the biggest and constantly updated selection of clothes you can find – beats out any department store by a gazillion.
Any warnings:
So much stuff you are going to spend, spend, spend.
Best buy: So many – this is my favorite clothing shop, for sure.

Goodwill – various locations around town
Why it rocks: Biggest variety of items, from clothing to shelves, belts to a brand-new sheepskin rug I nabbed for a mere $60.
Any warnings: Employees get to put dibs on items as soon as they come in, but have to wait a day or two until they are allowed to purchase them. If you pick an item everyone wants, like the sheepskin rug, you’re going to piss off a lot of employees. Sorry!
Best buy: Toss up between embellished hippie-type blouse I wore to Woodstock tribute concert and molded dinosaur head I painted pink and stuck in the gravel of my backyard, as if he’s emerging from the depths of hell to feast on someone.

Desert Dust – 1475 S. Alvernon Way
Why it rocks: That’s where BeautyBoy came from. Best tchotchke shop in the West for those seeking kitschy, creepy and very unusual décor.
Any warnings: Not your clothing shop, although I did score a pair of low-waist, flare bottom suede pants that appear they were worn by someone in the Manson Family.
Best buy: In addition to BeautyBoy, this place always has an expansive owl collection to fuel my own menagerie of them.

Buffalo Exchange – various locations around town
Why it rocks: This place can be a bit pricey, but it’s also a goldmine for vintage and crazy finds. Good shopping on the clearance racks.
Any warnings:
They buy back clothing but rarely pick anything I bring them, making me feel like I have a closet full of very unfashionable clothing (which I probably do).
Best buy: Velvet vampire shirt with bell sleeves as wide as Alaska; awesome find for less than $10 on the Halloween clearance rack although I intend to wear it for daily use.


Goodwill dinosaur head/Ryn Gargulinski

Goodwill dinosaur head/Ryn Gargulinski

What’s your favorite Tucson thrift shop and why?

Do you ever think you’ll get lice from the hats?

Does it freak you out that the clothing could have come from dead people?

What’s your best and worst thrift store find?