Thursday, May 7, 2015

Salvation Army Offers Variety of Thoughtful, Unique Alternatives To Traditional Mother’s Day Gifts

By Blythe Moorcroft, Quilt Staff


This weekend, while many Canoga Parkians will be rushing to pick out just the right carnival prize-quality teddy bear clutching a red heart with “Mom” printed across it or rifling through a profusion of dingy white five-gallon buckets for the perfect $5 bouquet of flowers, others have opted to beat the crowds at many of our larger intersections and gas station parking lots and go elsewhere for their Mother’s Day gift purchases. 

And more than a few of those shoppers “in the know” are heading to a hidden gem tucked behind the northbound Orange Line bus stop at the corner of Canoga Avenue and Roscoe Boulevard in Canoga Park’s lively Canoscoe neighborhood — the Salvation Army Family Store.
What more appropriate place to shop for Mother's Day wares than at the local Salvation Army
Family Store? Gift ideas galore and free parking make it the choice of smart shoppers. Staff photo.
Mother’s Day is big business for the dealer in secondhand goods, with a steady stream of customers dropping in to find something for Mom, be it a purple, aqua, pink and black bedroom set from the 1980s with 'Maui and Sons' stickers plastered across the headboard, or perhaps a more simple remembrance in the form of a still-in-the-box Perfect Brownie Pan ("as seen on TV").

“We do have a selection of items that you can buy for your mama, sure. I suggest you go check the Bric-a-Brac section,” advises donation intake coordinator Trenice Campbell. “All kinds of things there. Glasswares an’ whatnot.”
Mom will love the fun message on this decorative item almost as much as she'll appreciate not sitting on a
urine-spattered toilet seat.  $2.95 in Bric-a-Brac. ...A tisket, a tasket, she'll love this silverware dishwasher
basket — especially if her dishwasher is missing the one it came with. Find it for $1.95 in Housewares.
Anyone looking for a slightly chipped, coffee-stained “My Mom Is #1” ceramic coffee mug from 1983, however, may be out of luck. “You know, I do recall seeing one on the shelf a few weeks ago. Could be still there,” says Campbell. 

But the sad, sympathetic shaking of cashier Berta Van Wavern’s head indicates otherwise. “Sold it two days ago,” she says almost apologetically, looking up from the register. “I knew that wasn’t going to last, what with Mother’s Day coming.”

“Whoever bought it — they probably bought it for their mother, for Mother’s Day,” Campbell adds, to which Van Wavern nods in agreement while ringing up a customer purchasing a pair of slightly corroded jumper cables — perhaps a gift for his mother. 

“In fact at the time...? I remember asking the lady who got it if she was buying it for her mother,” continues Van Wavern. “She said she was. Nice lady, she comes in here about once a week. You know her, Trenice. I don’t know her name. Short gal, dark hair, she usually has a shopping bag with her, from Dollar Tree. I think she comes here after work.”
A pair of bronzed baby shoe bookends will delight Mom despite not having given birth to the child who wore
them. $15 in the boutique. Find a complete stranger's photo albums in the book section to complete the motif.
“No, I don’t know,” shrugs Campbell.

“She’s the one who bought that big white lacquer dresser with the dark trim, oh, two weeks ago. And then her husband picked it up the next day,” Van Wavern continues. “We put a ‘Sold’ sticker on it after she paid for it. I guess her husband has a truck.”

“Okay. Okay. Yeah, I ‘member her now. I ‘member her. She comes in here quite a bit. You say she bought that coffee cup? Man, her mama’s gonna like that.”

“She told me she was going to wash it and then put jellybeans in it and then give it to her mother. For Mother’s Day.”

“Ooh, that sounds good! She must love her mama. Jelly beans!” Campbell laughs, delighted at the thought of the incongruity of a vessel made to hold a hot beverage instead filled with tiny, colorful candies.

Even with the unavailability of maternal-themed coffee mugs, the thrift store has plenty to offer for the upcoming holiday, from salad plates sold singly (starting at $1.95) and in sets kept together with packing tape (from $6.95), to ashtrays (many at $1.95), an electric organ for the musically-inclined Mom ($95.00, missing the foxtrot and rhumba keys, and bench not included), and of course, plenty of used clothing, starting at under two dollars per piece.
Liven up Mom's walls with original art. Hand-painted portraits depict a stern Sally Kellerman,
founding father Benjamin Franklin, comedian Judy Gold, and Democratic presidential hopeful
Hillary Clinton. $7.50 each. Buy any three to create a triptych she'll enjoy for years to come.
“Anyone buying stuff for a Mother’s Day present and whatnot, they best get here before Mother’s Day!” notes Campbell as she pushes out a shopping cart of kitchenware from the back room to the sales floor's shelves where it will be put on display. “'Cause Mother’s Day is on a Sunday this year and we’re not open on Sundays.”

Salvation Army Family Store is located at 21375 Roscoe Boulevard. Open Monday through Saturday 9 am to 8 pm. Closed on Sundays. Including Mother's Day.

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