Our 40 dollar thrift store challenge- September 2018 edition

Jeff and I are starting a monthly #40dollarthriftstorechallenge. Our goal is to explore a different thrift store every month with $40 and grab as many items as possible without passing our budget!

For our first challenge, we went to Boomerangs in Jamaica Plain (a Boston, Massachusetts neighborhood) on Labor Day. They were having a 30% off sale on all items. With such an amazing deal, we could not pass it up!

Now let’s get into reviewing this thrift store, our amazing finds, and if we each met our budget goal!

This months thrift shop: Boomerangs

Why hello Boomerangs, so lovely to see you!

Boomerangs is an amazing thrift shop with 4 locations in and around the Boston area. These shops are owned and operated by the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts [1]. This operation allows them to raise unrestricted funding, 100% of which goes to supporting AIDS Action’s mission which is 1) prevent new infections, 2) support those affected or at risk, and 3) tackle the root causes of HIV/AIDS [1].

They not only have such a powerful cause but also have very friendly staff and sell such beautiful items for extremely discounted prices. In addition, they sell items online if you are unable to go to one of their stores. Boomerangs is a must see thrift store in the Boston area that has a little bit for everyone, from different home decor styles, to a huge amount of clothes, shoes, and an endless number of books and music.

If you are in the Boston area, go to one of their locations (either to donate or shop) or if you are visiting and want to get a great deal in books or clothes, then go check them out! For more information on Boomerangs, please go to their website www.shopboomerangs.org or if you are interested in learning more about the AIDS Action Committee, go to aac.org

Thrift store home decor finds

Since we are entering the fall season, I really wanted to find items that truly reflect the autumn season such as pumpkins, fall wreaths, and whatever else catches my eye. After five minutes of being in the store, this is what my basket looked like:

Full disclosure, I had more items on my hand when taking this picture, but did not fit in the basket

Let’s just say… there were more items that were included after taking this picture. The great thing about all Boomerangs location is that once you enter the store, the first items you will see on display are what is in season, luckily for me it was a lot of the items that I wanted!

Now below is the final shot of all items purchased:

Grand Total: $18.50!!

In this picture you will see: (1) a fall wreath, (2) a silicon whisk, (3) two pumpkin mugs, (4) two layered pumpkin decor, (5) glass cake dome, (6) a small wooden musical box, and (7) rustic beer mug. Grand Total: $18.50

Can you believe that all of those items cost me less than $20! I will not lie, I was convinced that I was going to pass our $40 budget! But luckily for me, that was not the case and have bought so many beautiful items for our home!

Thrifting tip: always have in mind the items you are looking for and remember to make a few rounds around the store. The first time you look at a shelf, there will be a lot of cool items everywhere. If you have seasonal items in mind, always check the front of the store. The nice thing about boomerangs is that each shelf is either color coded or stateside item type. Make a few rounds around the store and items you didn’t notice the first time will be seen the second time!

Overall, this was a great first challenge for me! Was able to find some of the items I wanted and some that was surprised by.

When I saw the books that Jeff collected…. well he will tell you all about it next!

Thrift store book finds

One of the many bookshelves in Boomerangs JP store

As Cindy mentioned at the beginning of this article, we took a trip to the Jamaica Plain branch of Boomerang (a kickass chain of thrift stores around the Boston area) with the idea of using their Labor Day sale to score as much stuff as possible for forty bones or less challenge.

Cindy got some great stuff which she arranged around the house while I (as the future sitcom dad I one day hope to become), dutifully sat on the couch playing Dark Souls while drinking Modelo.

Cindy has a knack for digging into the nooks and crannies of a thrift shop. Whenever we go to one, she’ll run up every few minutes to show off her latest find. My usual reaction is to nod and pretend like I have an ounce of taste when it comes to interior design. That is, when my eyes aren’t glued to the shelves in the book section of said thrift shops, of course.

I haven’t been to a branch of Boomerang I haven’t liked yet. They all have a really interesting selection of books with some of the best pricing in the area, and the JP branch is definitely one of the best.

The books in the picture below cost a total of $25. This particular haul highlights some of the best reasons to go book shopping at a thrift shop. For every moldy romance novel or coffee stained hardcover book of naval history, you can find an armful of minor hits from great authors. Thrift stores are also an excellent place for books that were big five minutes ago, but are way past the glory days of the “Former Bestsellers for 30% Off” table at the front of a Barnes and Noble. Chances are, if a book’s author appeared on NPR fourteen months ago, you can find their work here for whatever spare coins/lint you have in your pockets right now. Here’s a rundown of all the cool crap I found this time around.

All for the price of one new hardcover!
  1. Idoru by William Gibson

If you’ve ever enjoyed a sci-fi game for film with a grungy, paranoid aesthetic (think Blade Runner, the Deus Ex games, the comic series Transmetropolitan and the TV show Mr. Robot), you have William Gibson to thank for it. This genre of sci-fi is called cyber-punk and though Gibson didn’t invent the genre, his work did a lot to popularize this kind of sci-fi as well as lay down the tenants of that genre’s aesthetic. Any book that sells a certain number of copies can be considered a landmark of its genre, Gibson’s work actually deserves that name (fun fact: his excellent novella Burning Chrome is credited with coining the term “cyber space”). This particular book is part of a trilogy Gibson wrote after his excellent Sprawl Trilogy, but for a writer like Gibson, even a minor work is better than a lot of other genre fiction that is out there. Gibson’s writing is writing is on par with the great works of any time or place, and at 50 cents, this book was a steal.

  1. Clans of the Alphane Moon by Philip K. Dick

Like William Gibson, Philip K. Dick’s name is synonymous with high quality, literary science fiction. Of the giants of science fiction literature, Dick’s work leaves a particularly heavy footprint. His work is the direct basis of films like Minority Report, Blade Runner, Total Recall and the TV show The Man in the High Castle. This is only a small sample of his work, and pretty much all of it is amazing (I can’t recommend his novel Ubik highly enough). I’ve never heard of this book before I picked it up, but based on the half-dozen so works of Dick’s I’ve read before, this will be the first book of this crop that I crack open.

  1. Fever Pitch, Funny Girl and Speaking With The Angel by Nick Hornby

Everything I’ve read by Nick Hornby I’ve loved. His novel High Fidelity is a must read for anyone with an obsessive streak in their heart. Funny Girl is a work of fiction that I’m sure are just as enjoyable as any other example of Hornby’s work. Speaking With The Angel is a collection of stories edited by Hornby. Simply put, I trust Hornby’s taste and the writers in this collection are all top notch. The black sheep of this group is Fever Pitch, a sports centered memoir of Hornsby’s early life. This style of literature is not my style in the slightest, but the two dollar price tag was the major factor that got this book on our bookshelf. This is one of the greatest advantages book shopping at a thrift store offers. The low prices at places like Boomerang give you the chance to expand your reading interests without having to fork over 20 to 30 dollars for a new book.

  1. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

Go Ask Alice is a pretty infamous work of anti-drug fiction. I remember wanting to buy this book at a Barnes and Noble at age 10. My mom correctly believed that a fake diary about a girl slowly destroying her life with drugs was kind of heavy for a little kid, and told me in a very nice way to stop being a weirdo and pick a fantasy book or something. This book may be discredited, it may be fake, it may not even be all that good, but damn it this grown ass adult is 26 and ready to make his own literary decisions!

  1. Karl Marx by C. J. S. Sprigge

This isn’t a political blog (all political opinions of this blog’s writer are expressed on an unrelated twitter account where by the grace of God his friends, family and employers won’t find them), but suffice to say this book is right up my political alley. At 50 cents, Big Daddy Marx would be proud.

  1. 1988 by Andrew McGahan

The inside cover of this book called it a cross between Bukowski, Peter Carey and Irvine Welsh of Trainspotting fame. That’s about as far as I got before I decided to get the book. I’m still not sure what the plot of this book is, but I can’t wait to read it.



  1. The Writer and the World by V. S. Naipul

V. S. Naipul was a brilliant fiction writer. He died in August leaving behind a host of brilliant novels (A House for Mr. Biswas is a personal favorite) and a Nobel Prize. This book made the cut for the same reasons Fever Pitch by Hornby did. It’s a collection of non-fiction essays by a talented writer I’ve only ever known through fiction. It’s impossible to get into a literary rut when you find ways to experience beloved writers work in a new, unexpected light.

  1. Poems in Scots and English by Robert Burns

I’m not a big poetry guy but I have a vivid memory of a high school English teacher reading a poem this dude wrote about a haggis. This book cost like a buck, and hopefully the rest of his stuff is just as hilariously weird.

  1. Little Brother by Corey Doctorow

If you like solidly written sci-fi, Doctorow is a good choice. He’s on par with writers like David Wong, Wayne Gladstone and minor Neil Gaiman stories. Ideal summer reading.

  1. Frankenstein and Foreign Devils by Walter Jo Williams

Williams is a veteran sci-fi writer, and the little of his stuff I’ve read, I’ve enjoyed. The cover of this book is the most interesting out of the group, and hopefully the short stories inside live up to the hype.

  1. San Miguel by T.C. Boyle

T.C. Boyle is one of those writers whose works you see everywhere because he produces so goddamn much stuff. Almost every book however, is thoughtful, beautifully written and full of an underlying darkness that makes even the minor works memorable. His best work tends to have a basis in historical events, such as World’s End, a personal favorite of mine which should be the bar against which you measure the rest of his work. It’s ending is so grim and filled with evil dwarfs it still occasionally pops into my head on long car rides. When it comes to Boyle, even the books that don’t measure up are worth the read.

  1. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

I remember this book being huge when it came out in 2016. Springsteen talked about it on NPR and a number of work colleagues whose reading and listening tastes I respect talked about it in excited tones in the lunch room. Springsteen’s music rocks, and if he put a fraction of the thought and lyricism of his songs into this book, it’ll be great. You can get this sucker for over twenty dollars at normal book store, or you can buck the chain bookstore system and get it gently used for about two dollars like all the cool kids.

Denouement: Overall this outing was a success. I got over a dozen books for about 25 bucks and had enough money left over to get a six pack or two to enhance my reading pleasure.


Thanks for joining us on our first challenge and stay tuned for future #40dollarthriftstorechallenge

Cindy & Jeff

P.S.: If you are interested in seeing the list of all of our blog posts please click here

[1] Boomerangs about us website

2 thoughts on “Our 40 dollar thrift store challenge- September 2018 edition

  1. i listened to the Springsteen book on audio, which he narrates. i can’t recommend it highly enough. he was so honest and forthcoming and it was different from other rock star memoirs i’ve read. for him it was all about the music, not the fame, drugs, women and he reveals his shortcomings as well.


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