This past week I got to live out one of my thrifting fantasies: being there the minute something great walks through the door. Seeing that terrific thing pull up in a truck and get carried through the doors—and making a move on it before a single other person lays eyes on it. As I was leaving a thrift store parking lot, I saw these pull up:
They were buried in a huge pile of junk, but even at 20 yards there was no mistaking Ray Wilkes’ modular seating group designed for Herman Miller in 1976 (affectionately known as chiclet chairs). Thoughts of running up and offering the donor cash did cross my mind, but he was giving them to a charity, after all, so I decided to wait at a safe distance.
Once the donor left, I went back into the store and asked for the manager. I told him I had just seen the chairs come in and wondered when they’d be out on the floor. He said they’d probably be out the next day. Knowing their floor was overcrowded with furniture and their donation area is the size of a shoebox, I countered with, “I could take them right now.” Sold. The best part is he shot me a price that is exactly what I would have offered the person donating them. Everybody wins! Well, except the guy who gave them away, but presumably he feels good about making a donation.
The chairs still bear their original Herman Miller tags as well as a date stamp identifying their origin as 1981. It’s hard to find information about the line, but I suspect they produced into the 1980s or 90s.
While these might not be the most amazing things anyone has found in a thrift store, they certainly make up for all those times I just missed something. This is also a good reminder that finding great stuff in thrift stores means going there often. Like really often. This particular store I visit once a week—if I had left the store five minutes earlier, these would have come in and sold by my next visit. Of course the last thing I need is any sort of justification for visiting thrift stores any more frequently than I already do.