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Entries in ohio (2)

Sunday
Apr142013

A long drive, a great brunch and a Sunday cultural surprise!

In honor of my entry into the Midwest, I decided to wear one of my favorite t-shirts today. MIDWEST!!

Sundays are notoriously bad days for thrifting on these trips-- many shops are closed, and even if they aren't, it's often hard to get proper permission to photograph in them.  Without any plans for the day, I'd already come to terms with the fact that it was probably going to be a day photographing the fronts of closed stores.  

Craving some actual food-- with you know, nutrients and stuff-- I called my local friend Brooke, who works at the local paper here.  She recommended we meet for a bite at a place called the Explorer's Club, a fitting place to eat given my gypsy-like existence these days.  

My hungry eyes were greeted with a specials board at the front door that featured spaghetti and meatball omlettes and raspberry mint pancakes. DANG! I knew Brooke wouldn't lead a hungry girl wrong!  

After filling our bellies and topping off with coffee, I climbed back into HaRVey2 and typed in my first thrift store of the day into the GPS.  Al-Jazeera Thrift Store was a name that had popped up on my Google search for Columbus thrift a few days ago, and I was curious to see what it was all about.  I figured it would be closed, but to my delight as I pulled up, the lights were on and the door was open! 

I went inside and met Abdisadiq, an American man of Somali ancestry who says he started this store with his wife Dega about two years ago. He says the store was her idea, but he says he runs the business side of things. The racks are lined with long skirts and full length dresses and the window display mannequin is dressed in layers of beautiful green floral and a head scarf.  Obviously this is a very unique place.  

He shows me just how unique as we look around the store. Hijabs, abayas, full length coats, sarees, african print dresses with gorgous embroidery and lots of scarves hang for sale alongside more everyday items like t-shirts, jeans and purses. 

After a minute or two a few customers come in and I meet Sandra and MaryAnn. MaryAnn says she is Christian, and she came in here a while ago with her daughter from New Jersey, who is Muslim.  She says since her daughter is so tall, she has a hard time finding dresses that are full-length for her, but she was able to find a whole pile of things that worked perfectly for her here.

MaryAnn has come back today looking for a dress. She needs something extra lovely for a Nigerian wedding she's attending next Saturday, and a black and gold dress has caught her eye. Apparently there are several outfit changes necessary for the ceremony, so she's glad to find something so affordable. 

Abdisadiq rings up her purchase with a smile and says he remembers her daughter's visit.  He says he's had people come into the shop from all over-- Atlanta, Virginia-- a store like this is a rare place. His wife Dega tells me on the phone that it's the only Islamic thrift store around. It's certainly the only one I've ever seen!

Abdisadiq and his wife keep this store open seven days a week in addition to him working a job at a nearby hotel as well. With MaryAnn as a great example, he says people of all faiths shop here, as modest dress is not limited to a single religion. He likes being able to serve a specific community's needs, a community that he says is quite sizable here. He proudly talks about how he's been able to give free items to people in need, and members of the refugee community.  

He is so warm and generous and I'm so grateful that his store was open today. I doubt I'll see a store like that again. As I take a few last photos, he begs me to take something and I try hard convince him I shouldn't, but he is insistent that I must-- out of respect.

How do you say no to that?

You don't. 

I find a long green floral skirt and he puts it in a bag for me on my way out.  I'll definitely think of this unique place and his generous spirit every time I wear it.

Next stop is Otterbein University, where the interwebs tell me there's a thrift store on campus. I know it's closed today, but I want to see it anyway. But just a few blocks past Al-Jazeera Thrift Store, I see Ohio Thrift Store, a local chain here, in a huge strip mall to my right.  I snap a few photos from the parking lot.

Otterbein Thrift Store is situated in an old house and is right across from campus, where students are enjoying the sunshine in the grass nearby. I pull up to make a few quick photos of the store. And it occurs to me-- why dont' more colleges and universities have thrift stores on campus like this? I mean, really!  I can remember moving in and out of the dorms and seeing the piles and piles of hardly used furniture and stuff just piled by dumpsters that was clearly still in fine condition. 

Way to go, Otterbein! Plus, the money they raise goes towards scholarships!

WIN-WIN! 

The rest of the day was just spent driving north, entering Michigan and doing laundry-- finally. And me being the smart girl that I am, I put all my quarters into the dryer that was-- you guessed it-- out of order.  Awesome.

Tomorrow-- Goodwill in Canton, and hopefully a thift store I'm wanting to visit in Berkley. 

Happy Sunday, folks!  And goodnight!

 

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!