P-E-O-R-I-A, Peoria

P-E-O-R-I-A, Peoria

What would possess one to visit a city during a heat wave that shot temps to 110 degrees? The largest thrift store in North America would! Braving the underestimated “dry heat” of Arizona, I browsed the majority of Goodwill-Peoria’s 92,000 square feet of thrift delights and captured the closure of checking it off my list of travels. On that list it sat for years, an Outlook contact folder compiled through the idle hours of office work within the pipe dream of authoring a thrift guidebook to the States. No book deal here though, simply a report made available by the highly prestigious e-publisher, Blogger, available for the hearty price of a few clicks.

Arizona and I don’t mix. I, much like the plant life adapted to my beloved home of temperate deciduous forest, am not cut out for 103 degree temps, especially those still lingering at 9 p.m. My visit to the desert challenged me with several physical ailments and resiliency, in my escalating age, dwindles. Luckily, day one had me only slightly lethargic and was no match for my years of thrift expectation.

There is a feeling I get in the parking lot of a new thrift store. Much like a book spine uncracked or a love unventured, there is a perfection in its unknown, bolstered by the imagination and untainted by such trivialities like reality. Would behind these doors bring back the satisfaction of my early years if thrift-hunting? Second Hand Rose in Copiague, Long Island in 1994. The Super Salvation Army on Steinway Street in Astoria in 1995, Domsey’s on Kent avenue in 1996 when Willimsburg, Brooklyn was still a shithole? (Before “cool” was so easy and marketable.) There was only one way to find out: Quit taking pictures of the damn place and get in there!

Peoria, AZ’s Goodwill store was large, that is for sure, but the store’s record-breaking footage included a very large and closed area for pricing, as well as a large area for furniture under the name of something like Bertha’s Used Furniture. Considering this (and the very spacious aisles and lay-out), I have seen far denser thrifts in my lifetime. The Goodwills in Tacoma (1415 E. 72nd Street) and Seattle (1400 S Lane St), WA come to mind. Still, scanning its contents killed about two hours (and $33.00).

Like many Goodwills, the clothing selection was not a highlight. I spent the most time pouring over bric-a-brac and kitchen stuff, scoring practical finds like a vintage potato masher and a huge wok that put the circumference of the one I brought home from Thailand to shame. Also in my basket, several small plates and bowls (some that later broke in a hasteful rental car return after a brush with Joe Law. Mosaic project!) that inspired thoughts on meals and treats to fill them with. What else? Quilted bags. Horses. Cross-stitch patterns. Anything orange. The usual… All-in-all, I’d classify Goodwill-Peoria as good. But far better were the unsuspecting onesy shops of Mesa, AZ.