Friday, September 9, 2011

Thrifty Addiction: Mystery Bags at Cinema Verite Thrift Shop in NYC

It started so innocently. I passed by a new thrift shop, Cinema Verite in New York City's Hell's Kitchen, on a walk to the nearby library. I saw a display by the counter, "Mystery Bags. Hand Picked Curiosities, $2." I couldn't resist buying one to see what was inside, could you?

I wasn't sure what these were! Feng Shui cards, the charming shop owner Peter told me when I went back. I don't know what to do with them, but do like quite a few of the scenes and sayings. Maybe I'll hang some in my cubicle or on the refrigerator.

Well of course I had to "play" again. I love my little decorative egg.

A Radio Shack clock. Practical, now I just have to figure out how to set it! I also got a ceramic candle in the shape of a turtle (you'll have to project it, since I can't find it at the moment) and in a mystery bag for my sister, a bracelet made out of beaded safety pins. Did I mention this shop supports Process Studio Theatre? So you see, I'm supporting the arts!

Who knew my life needed napkin rings in the shape of ducks?!! Now you just can't go into a Pottery Barn and pick these up! I'm sure they'll be quite the conversation piece.

I'll be honest, when I opened the duck napkin rings, they were on a string and I thought for a split second - what a crazy bracelet! Kind of like when Dorothy mistook a maple syrup spigot Rose whittled her for Christmas for a wooden broach in the shape of a turkey's head the year they decided on homemade gifts on the Golden Girls. Love this show.

Mystery bag fun aside, I have been finding some pretty unique things here. I love thrifting because of what it brings in my life: the unexpected. I can't wait to watch Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne in Love Affair, $4; wanted to familiarize myself with the work of Edgar Allan Poe (the book, $3) after reading about the troubled Edgar Allan Poe House in Baltimore and upcoming The Raven film based on the end of Poe's life with John Cusack in The New York Times; and am loving the Henry Mancini Charade soundtrack, $3. New copies on Amazon were selling as of this writing for $30-$80! If you love Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and Paris - see Charade! It was also here I scored the season one Partridge Family dvd set - for just $4! Did you know Shirley Jones was offered the part of Carol Brady on the Brady Bunch but turned it down?

Two Valentine's Days ago, my library had a really cute idea: have a blind date with a book. Books came gift-wrapped, and if you didn't like the book, you could bring it back - no hard feelings.

Disappointingly they didn't do it last Valentine's.

My date, which came with a heart-shaped lollipop, was Jennifer Weiner's Best Friends Forever. I ditched my date without a fair chance, since I was in the middle of John Irving's 500 plus-page A Prayer for Owen Meany, which I'm forever grateful to Cate from Liberal Simplicity for recommending.

I think we all need a little more whimsy and mystery in our lives, don't you?

While I love being thrifty by brown bagging lunch most days, using the library often, getting my clothes at swaps and thrift stores and such, I do allow myself some mad money for thrifting "wants" (not needs). I've passed on too many things I wanted that were a couple of dollars.

Would you be hooked on mystery bags? What do you spend mad money on? Pumpkin lattes? Magazines? Seventies kitsch? More books than you can read? Anything?


  1. I love your library's idea! I would absolutely adore it if my library did something like that.

    I would ditch Jennifer Weiner in favor of A Prayer for Owen Meany, too. :-)

  2. Thanks Cate! Maybe you could suggest it. :-) I wish this would be a regular installment. I love the idea of getting a book you wouldn't normally pick yourself.

    Owen Meany - The VOICE! Such an inspiration. Thanks again.

  3. I would totally go for those mystery bags! What a great idea.

    I have a thing for coloring books, books, eating out and country kitsch. Unfortunately, the eating out can get crazy expensive, so I'm forever trying to reign that one in. Oy.

  4. Those all sound like fun indulgences. Because I come across books so cheaply (paperbacks are 25 cents at the library book sale and 25 or 50 cents at some thrift shops I go to, a few dollars at most at others), I acquire more than I can read. A book a week goal would help! I loan them out in the meantime.

    I love to eat out too: at cozy Irish pubs or British tea shops, French bistros, festive Mexican places, diners for comfort food, etc. And I love my weekly lunches at the farm. But my sweetheart Steve points out you are supporting someone's dream tied to the business you give the restaurants and other small businesses. Bringing my own lunch most days does save a small fortune, as does rarely buying coffee.

  5. Yes!! We do all need more whimsy and mystery in our lives. Passing that little shop today brought me to your blog --and I'm so glad. The shop wasn't open. I didn't see a sign for hours -- which just adds to the mystery. (I was waiting for the library around the corner to open up.) So neat that they wrapped books last year. Didn't love the one J. Weiner book I read, though I've forgotten the title now.

  6. Glad you found me Rachel! The shop is closed on Tuesdays. The charming owner Peter isn't in Monday (a volunteer fills in) but he's there the rest of the week. While I vowed to scale back, the bags have remained rather addictive and I've gotten all kinds of things, though the Rubik's Cube was the most put to use. It's my contribution to the Hell's Kitchen economy and more fun than a cup of Starbucks!

    He's got a great stand outside with paperbacks for $1.

    I think every library should do this. There's so much whimsy and fun in childhood. Why don't we get to partake as adults?