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Saturday
Apr132013

West Virginia- Wild, Thrifty, and Wonderful! 

Man, Charleston is so pretty. Of course I'm partial to river cities, but this one really embraces it's riverfront location. As I drove toward my first stop of the day, I followed the walking path along the river that also features an outdoor performance venue right down on the water.

I also see a few happy boaters who seem to be racing alongside me to get there first. There's gorgeous houses up on the mountaintops that overlook the downtown and several staircases from the sidewalk that take pedestrians down from the city streets to the rolling Kanawha.  

I arrived at Goodwill and immediately met Kathy, who has been so sweet this whole trip reaching out through email and text to see if I need anything in preparation for my visit.

She's assembled an awesome welcome sign in the front window of their warehouse that faces the street and hands me a cute pink Goodwill totebag-- it'll come in very handy for my growing mound of laundry in the car! Inside the store I met Mickey who is doing a little browsing to pass the time while waiting to pick her friend up from Kroger.  

She's shopped at thrift stores for years and having worked at the local mall, she knows how much this stuff would be new. She also appreciates that it's keeping things out of landfills. "So many things get thrown out that don't need to be," she said.  

She likes looking for items for her three daughters, six grandkids and 2 great-grandkids as she shops, and especially things that she can get to upgrade her own home. She says she found a dishware set here that she's particularly fond of. 

Kathy takes me on a little tour of their processing facility here, including where the online store, ShopGoodwill, is housed. Coordinator Dustin shows me their room full of special items.  It's a whole operation here where extra special donations get a little more money by being sold online and shipped.

All of the processing and offices are housed in a gorgeous old building that was originally the Charleston trolley barn, and you can still see the rails that run the length of each of the trolley bays. 

I love it when cool buildings like this get a cool repurposing. And my bus mechanic father would've gotten a real kick out of this place. They even have a few photos to show me of the original trolley barn, which was also later used as a bus depot. 

In the donation drive-thru, I meet Jessie, a mother of three boys who had a bag of items in the car to donate on her way home from a baseball game. She pops inside to fill out a donation form.

"I'm always through here," she says.  "You should see my tax return!" She keeps an itemized list at home of all the stuff she brings in so that she can write it off.

Smart cookie! 

I head out and try to find a good lunch spot. The popular spot in town, the Vandalia Grill, was unfortunately closed.  I settled for a quick bite at First Watch and caught up on some news.  

I also use this time to plan out my next few stops and look at the map to check out my drive ahead.  

Somehow some Christmas songs have wrangled their way onto my iPod and I'm starting to regret having purchased the Colbert holiday album altogether.  

With Stephen and the gang serenading me once again, I roll my eyes and point HaRVey2 south toward Union Mission Thrift. 

To get there, I have to drive through a tunnel under a railroad track that's only one lane wide-- and barely even that wide-- forcing us to take turns going through it from either side.  When it's my turn, I suck it in and hope that I don't scratch up the sides of the Pruis in the narrow passageway.

Luckily I made it through without losing my rental car deposit, LIKE A BOSS! If I'd been in an RV like the last trip, this thrift store visit couldn't have even happened.  

At the store I meet Frank, who has been making the thrift store rounds today looking for a stove to replace his son's that broke. He didn't find a stove, but he did find some VHS tapes that he liked.  

There's lots of household goods to check out on the first floor, and near the back, my eyes nearly pop out of my head. Near the back wall for sale is a small wooden storage shed shaped like an outhouse, complete with tin roof. Curious, I open the door and see a sign inside that says in all caps, "DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!" 

You've got to love a thrift store with a good sense of humor! I had a good laugh and headed upstairs to check out the clothing upstairs.  They had a HUGE selection of stuff and a handful of customers browsing the aisles. 

I really loved my visit here and the people I met, but I had to hit the road again and get to Columbus for the night.  

My route through West Virginia plopped me out into Ohio right through Athens, where I remembered my friends Amanda and Shealah were going to be attending Amanda's Legal Stranger debut at the Athens International Film Festival!

We were able to meet up for a quick cup of tea and a hug-- it's been a long and crazy week and I was glad to see a famililar face, if only for a few minutes.  It really made my day guys!  

I got back in the car for the last leg of the day's drive to Columbus, which takes me down some two lane highways.

I've seen deer along the sides of the interstates the last few days near dusk and I keep seeing houses with those decorative fake lawn deer out front-- making me panic that I'm about to kill Bambi at every turn. 

Why do people put these out!? They're not cute-- they're freaky! And like Kristin says, "They're the rural equivalent of speed bumps." They certainly made me slow down and take note. I hope I didn't just jinx myself there.  I'd like to keep this white rental car as Bambi-free as possible.  

While I was chatting with Amanda and Shea, I realized I haven't really mentioned on here how my days are structured, so I thought I'd share.  

Basically I wake up, hit a thrift store in the late morning-- go in, look at stuff, take photos, talk to some folks-- then head to lunch. Lunch is spent half eating, half returning calls/emails/texts with contacts ahead of me on the map to arrange visits and coordinate times. Then I find a second store to visit, (repeat process above), get in the car again and drive to my next town. Once I get close to the town, I try to find a hotel I can afford that doesn't look too stabby/murder-y (hi, Grandma!) that hopefully has free wifi and drag all my stuff inside.

Tonight's room has the added bonus of a curioulsy strong smell of cigarettes despite its non-smoking status. I hope they don't charge extra for that.

Then my evenings are spent downloading photos, recording my expenses in spreadsheets, organizing all my signed releases, updating my social media outlets with updates, emailing contacts to arrange visits (again), writing a blog post like this one, doing my taxes (at least last night I did), calling the other half and asking about the dog, and eventually I sleep. 

Then I get up and do it again the next morning. 

For three weeks.

A vacation this is not-- but it sure is a lot of fun!

Miles driven so far-- 1574. Miles to go...... a lot.

Talk at you tomorrow!

 

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Reader Comments (1)

I am sorry that we did not have a chance to meet yesterday at the Cranberry Store. The manager (Cindy) called me and spoke about how inspiring your visit was and how much she truly enjoyed being there to speak with you. I thank you for all of the kind words about the tremendous store that we have in Cranberry. They are just # 1 in my book! LOL

Thank you

Pamela J. Geruschat
District Manager
Goodwill SWPA

April 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPamela Geruschat

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