Free Rides to Goodwill Stores

July 31, 2009 at 6:57 am | Posted in Deals | 2 Comments

Goodwill Industries is making it even easier to donate to their stores in the San Francisco Bay Area with this new promotion:

“Get a Free Ride to Donate to Goodwill!

“Need more room for spring clothes? That old computer still sitting in your closet? What about those books that you read and promised to give away so that someone else could enjoy them?

“If you have gently used goods that you would like to donate but don’t have a ride, check out the new partnership Goodwill Industries has with City CarShare, a nonprofit that helps people get around in a ecologically responsible way. They even have fuel-efficient trucks for those big donations! Now, City CarShare members can receive a $10 credit toward their vehicle fees when they make a donation to Goodwill. Email or mail a copy of your dated donation receipt to City CarShare Marketing at 1182 Market Street Suite 300, San Francisco CA 94102.

“If you’re not a member yet, you can get $30 in free driving when you sign up for a ShareLocal or SharePlus membership. Simply enter Goodwill as the promo code on your online application at

“Make your next donation the easy way. Let City CarShare give you a break when you drop off your old stuff!”

Russell Crowe Gives £1,000 to Thrift Shop

July 30, 2009 at 11:38 am | Posted in Celebrities | Leave a comment

Russell CroweI already knew I liked Russell Crowe, but now this! I’ve admired his talents in so many films — even Cinderella Man, which I didn’t expect to like because I have no interest in boxing. Dude made me cry in that one!! But now … NOW he’s really done it. Crowe walked into a British charity shop (aka thrift shop) this week and donated £1,000, according to the Daily Mail:

“Charity shop volunteers are used to well-wishers handing them donations of old jackets, books and crockery. But staff at a Berkshire shop got a shock this week when they were given a cheque for £1,000, by Hollywood star Russell Crowe.

“The actor had been eating lunch at a cafe near the Cancer Research UK shop in Sunningdale, near Ascot. He then wandered inside and looked around before joining a queue and asking if the store accepted donations. Manager Julia Deane told the BBC Crowe had quietly chatted to staff….

“Crowe was taking a break from shooting scenes on his new film Robin Hood in nearby Virginia Water.

“The kind-hearted star has also been making friends on-set , after he gave movie worker Denise Yarde £5,000 so she could buy a new car.”

What a guy! (And check him out in his obscure 1992 film Romper Stomper. You won’t regret it.)

Free Frozen Treats

July 29, 2009 at 10:34 am | Posted in Deals | Leave a comment

gelatoThe folks at Ciao Bella Gelato have just sent us a heads-up, saying that they’ll be distributing free frozen treats this week in the San Francisco Bay Area! Here’s the schedule:

7/30/2009 Whole Foods Market 1765 California Ave San Francisco – 11am – 2pm
7/30/2009 Whole Foods Market 399 4th St. San Francisco – 4pm – 7pm
7/31/2009 Lucky’s 4055 MacArthur Blvd. Oakland – 11am – 2pm
7/31/2009 Farmer Joe’s 3426 Fruitvale Avenue Oakland – 4pm – 7pm

It’s part of Ciao Bella’s Discover-Savor-Share 2009 summer tour, aimed at handing out 1 million samples of gelato and sorbet. Blood orange sorbet, mango sorbet, lemon sorbet, Tahitian vanilla gelato, and chocolate hazelnut gelato will be offered in the company’s new Single Serve cups.

Ciao Bella’s products have netted many awards, including the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade’s prize for best dessert. Zagat has named Ciao Bella the “best ice cream in New York.” Yum!

Salvaged Bricks, Last-Minute Bargains at New Berkeley Hotel

July 28, 2009 at 9:28 am | Posted in News | Leave a comment

OAK_SHAT-exter-1For reasons relating to one of our day jobs, we took a guided tour last week of Downtown Berkeley’s brand-new Hotel Shattuck Plaza, which is outfitted with eye-poppingly cool design elements and green technology.

To update a National Historical Landmark edifice that has housed guests since 1910, Kevin Davis of San Francisco’s Ziv Davis Interior & Architecture Studio chose black, white, and candy-apple red as the ground floor’s signal colors. The latter captivates in exuberant glass chandeliers that make you want simultaneously to laugh, love them, and bite off chunks to

Black and white seize your attention the second you step through the front door, as the foyer’s marble floor tiles bear the shape of a peace sign four feet across. (The peace theme, a nod to Berkeley being Berkeley, is echoed in the hotel’s do-not-disturb signs, which say not Do Not Disturb but Peace, Please.) Black-and-white wallpaper in a bold postmodern-lace pattern graces the hotel’s organic restaurant-bar, Five, whose patrons eat three meals a day (selected from a menu that includes watermelon beer) under the 1910 structure’s original — and enormous — crystal chandelier.

Inserted into a slot just inside the door to each guestroom, that room’s key-card activates the LED overhead light, bedside lights, air conditioning, speaker phone, iHome, and flat-screen swivel-mounted TV. Remove the card and it all powers down: It’s an energy-saving strategy that is currently popular in Asian hotels but just catching on in the States, front-desk supervisor Matt Swenson told us. As for scavenging …. hundreds of bricks salvaged from the original structure during the two-year remodel will go into construction of the hotel’s new outdoor plaza.

It’s a very nice place and no Motel 6, which means that of course it’s not cheap. But Swenson told us that for a very limited time, bargain hunters can reserve double rooms at the Shattuck Plaza for only $98, which is about $40 off the regular price. You can only get the deal if you say you “saw it on Twitter,” and you can probably only get the deal through July.

Planning a visit to the Bay Area?

Villagers Fret Over Tons of Scavenged Artillery

July 27, 2009 at 8:03 am | Posted in News | Leave a comment

bulletHundreds of thousands of scavenged bullets are raising a ruckus in China.

According to the Shanghai Daily, steel-mill owner Yang Changchun collected hundreds of thousands of spent bullets from an arsenal with plans to recycle them at his mill into other steel products. But first he wanted the bullets to be washed, so he dumped them on a roadside that runs beside a river near Chongqing, sparking widespread alarm.

“The bullets, estimated to weigh 30 tons, covered one-third of a road in Wanshou Village….

“Villagers were worried that the bullets could be used for evil purposes.

“Police officers were also stunned at the sight of so many bullets and told the newspaper they were unaware of such a deal between the arsenal and mill. They are investigating the case.

“According to Chinese gun management regulations, police are the only authorized body to destroy guns. Civilians are banned from using guns.

“Yang’s workers were seen washing the bullets at the roadside river. The cleaned bullets will be sent to Yang’s mill to be recycled into steel products, they said. The workers had been cleaning the bullets for four days….

“Yang’s mill had previously been punished by the local government for making poor quality steel products.”

No Death Penalty for Garage-Sale Killer

July 24, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Posted in News | Leave a comment

090316_charles_nettlebeckIt’s always sad when a scavenging venue is involved in a double homicide.

According to Seattle TV station KOMO, 52-year-old Charles W. Nettlebeck (seen at left in a KOMO photo) killed his wife and stepdaughter with an axe during preparations for a garage sale he was to hold with them the next day in Orting, Washington. Today a Pierce County prosecutor announced that he would not seek the death penalty in the March murders, based on Nettlebeck’s history of mental-health issues.

“Nettlebeck earlier told detectives he tried to hang himself at his home after attacking his wife and stepdaughter, court documents said. His suicide attempt failed, however, and he went on a spray-painting rampage leaving messages in red that said, ‘Could not find help. No where to go’ and ‘I loved my wife — for better or worst,’ detectives said.

“According to court documents, Nettlebeck’s wife had a restraining order against him and was in the process of getting a divorce. But, despite the order, he went to his wife’s home in Orting on Friday, March 13, to participate in a garage sale.

“It was not clear exactly what prompted the attack, but prosecutors allege Nettlebeck’s wife said something to him, and he picked up an axe and struck her with it, nearly decapitating her.

“After hitting his wife, Nettlebeck went outside, found Hawkins and hit her three times with the axe, the documents said.

“Nettlebeck finally called 911 roughly three hours after the killings, prosecutors said.

“When deputies arrived at the home in the 27200 block of 168th Avenue Court East, Nettlebeck’s wife was already dead and Hawkins was critically injured. Hawkins was rushed to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle where she later died.”

Designer Thrift Shop Set to Sell Prada, Dior, Lacroix

July 23, 2009 at 7:05 am | Posted in News | 5 Comments

MaryPortas_2A thrift shop devoted only to high-end designer wear is opening soon in Edinburgh, Scotland. Its racks, we read in the Sunday Mail, will be studded with Prada, Dior and Christian Lacroix.

Currently being designed with the help of British TV personality Mary Portas, aka “Mary Queen of Shops,” the
Save The Children boutique is set to open in September, and “will have stock donated by designers, celebrities and top retailers.” Portas (depicted above) helped launch a charity shop in London earlier this year, and her fame has been bringing much-needed money to the Save the Children charity as well as long-overdue dignity to the British secondhand-shopping scene.

“Among the treasure trove is a Nicole Farhi dress originally worth £400, Russell and Bromley biker boots which cost £325 and a Swarovski watch which sold new at £120.

“Interest in the store is growing by the day and Save The Children bosses expect a stampede when it opens.”

Portas says she hopes it will “redefine charity shops,” and that “its real success will be defined by the extent to which it changes the way people in Edinburgh shop. We want to create a real buzz, something unique.”

And: “Stock for the shop will be of the highest calibre and the store itself will have the feel of a fancy and contemporary designer boutique….

“The bargains in the new store will be second to none. I imagine people from all over Scotland will be flocking to Edinburgh to snap up deals at the poshest charity shop in Britain.”

Let’s Get Gleaning

July 22, 2009 at 4:32 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

applesForage in your own yard to help the hungry! We’ve just received this heads-up from a Bay Area organization that’s making it happen:

If you have an overabundance of fruits and vegetables from your back yard garden, here’s a great way to help those in need.  The Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center of Walnut Creek is collecting your fresh garden produce weekly and transporting it to the pantry shelves at the Monument Crisis Center (MCC)  in Concord.

The program is entitled “Let’s Get Gleaning” and its objective is to help us help nourish the community by delivering fresh, healthy food to families and individuals less fortunate. In addition to collecting fresh fruits and vegetables, the Peace Center accepts donations of canned and non-perishable packaged foods.

For those with more home grown produce than you can use after your weekend harvest, there are three locations where you can drop off your fruits and vegetables. The Peace Center is working hand in hand with the Organizing for America (OFA) team on this project.

1. Morning Drop-Offs at the Peace Center Office on Mondays between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM. The Peace Center is located at the Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church, 55 Eckley Lane in Walnut Creek 94596. The website is

2. Evening drop-offs Thursdays, starting through July 31, from 6:00-8:00 PM at 1346 Keywood Court, Concord 94521.

3. Another drop-off place is at MCC itself, at 2350 Monument Blvd. Suite B, Concord, CA.

Treasure Hunter Credits Dead JFK Jr. in Finding Sunken Pirate Ship

July 20, 2009 at 10:19 am | Posted in Finds, News | 1 Comment

From beyond the grave, JFK Jr. is helping a Cape Cod treasure hunter find sunken pirate loot — at least, that’s what the treasure hunter says.

According to the Boston Herald, “Barry Clifford is set to jump back into the waters off Wellfleet this week, seeking to bring up millions of dollars’ worth of pirate treasure from the sunken ship Whydah.” Clifford told the Herald that JFK Jr. had worked on the shipwreck 25 years ago and reported seeing a row of cannons there but, despite diving and searching, the famous young Kennedy was never able to recover anything.

“But two years ago, Clifford and his crew went back to the same spot, dug down deeper, and found 30 cannons, side by side. ‘They were right where John had said they were,’ Clifford said. ‘One of the divers came up with a compass. He said, “You’re not going to believe this.” I turned it over, and it had the initials JFK on it. John had lost it the first time he dived down there.’

“Clifford, who has been bringing up artifacts from the sunken ship for more than two decades, said he believes the bulk of the pirate booty will be found underneath the spot where those cannons were buried.

“’We know from records that the Whydah turned bottoms up before she sunk,’ he said. ‘The cannons were on the bottom of the ship for ballast. But when the ship turned over, the cannons crashed through the decks, and went to the bottom, pinning everything on the decks in between, underneath them.” …

“Clifford and his crew — aboard their boat Vast Explorer — will attempt to retrieve the treasure over the next few months. The 64-year-old treasure-hunter already has unearthed a wealth of pirate paraphernalia — clothing, weapons, tools and the like — from the ship, the only authenticated pirate ship ever recovered.

“Some of the booty is housed in his museum in Provincetown. …

“The Whydah, originally a slave ship, was captured by pirate prince Samuel ‘Black’ Bellamy in 1717. Bellamy hijacked and plundered 54 other vessels with the Whydah, before running it aground off Wellfleet in a ferocious nor’easter. All but two of the 146 pirates on board were killed and the bulk of its treasure has yet to be found.”

The Trash Museums of New England

July 17, 2009 at 8:25 am | Posted in News | 1 Comment

trashosaurusConnecticut has two garbage museums! Operated by the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority, the Hartford Trash Museum and the Stratford Garbage Museum aim to illustrate how much the average person throws away and how much of that so-called “trash” could be rescued, repurposed and reused.

At the Hartford space, 6,500 square feet of educational exhibits include “the Temple of Trash.”

According to the Stratford Star, “Greeting visitors at the door [of the Stratford space] is Trash-o-saurus, a ton of items recovered by a Pennsylvania artist to represent waste generated by a person each year.” Nearby, “two cones represent the amount of raw material needed to produce soda cans. The amount of recycled cans is dwarfed by the sizable cone representing the quantity of raw bauxite that would have to be mined for the same yield. The recycling process itself remains a large draw. On one side of a window-lined walkway, trucks and payloaders move piles of empty plastic bottles and aluminum cans some 20 feet tall. On the other side, conveyor belts ferry materials past workers who sort the items by category.” Also, according to the CRRA’s website, “Guests can walk through a giant compost pile.” Freaky!

Check out strategies for keeping the place open at the Save the Stratford, CT Garbage Museum blog.

The museums are seeking donations — of cash, not trash.

We Get Around

July 16, 2009 at 8:12 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

And here we are in the current issue of Shoestring Magazine! Editor Melissa Massello set out to spend a week or so without spending a cent, but “so far, I’ve completely failed at ‘freeganism.’ The counter-culture movement du jour is a lot harder than just diving into a few dumpsters or picking up a few errant treasures from your neighbor’s curbside trash, as I found out firsthand last month when I attempted to go ‘freegan’ for a week, to little avail….

“I ran out of both eggs and milk on day one of my free week and had to sell a shelf on Craigslist before refilling my cabinets, drinking black coffee for two days and munching on Luna Bars while waiting for the email offers to come pouring in. Lesson learned.”

Nonetheless, she offers useful tips on the free life from a wide array of experts, including us.

Bentley’s Garage Sale: With Rolls-Royce Parts, Too

July 15, 2009 at 10:37 am | Posted in Deals, News | 3 Comments

pink_bentley_continental_gt_on_asanti_rims_2-568-426It’s not your typical neighborhood sale stocked with natural-childbirth DVDs and dented Hula Hoops. Rather it’s what AutoWeek Magazine calls “a one-of-a-kind garage sale,” in which Britain’s prestigious “Bentley Motors is looking to unload some original and unused parts and accessories.” (Paris Hilton’s pink Bentley is depicted at left, but there is no indication that she will attend the garage sale.)

“The automaker is opening up its headquarters in Cheshire, England, on Sept. 26-27 to pro buyers, owners and enthusiasts. The sale will feature about 7 million items. The list ranges from a V8 engine block to a replacement gearbox to an indicator bulb and an illustrated 1950s handbook. Rolls-Royce parts will also be available.

“Bentley is hosting the sale to clear out space for the upcoming Continental Supersports and the new Bentley that debuts in August.

“Factory-trained experts at the sale will help identify and find the correct parts. Also, the parts will be sold with a manufacturer warranty and branded packaging.

“Interested? You can register for the sale at by Aug. 21.”

700-Year-Old Skull Raises Questions

July 13, 2009 at 9:12 am | Posted in News | 1 Comment

A human skull found on an Australian beach is turning into one of this year’s greatest scavenging mysteries. According to the Courier Mail, the skull — which was “found washed up on Mona Vale Beach” near Sydney “10 months ago is an astonishing 700 years old and is not of Aboriginal origin.”

The skull clearly appeared old, and “radiocarbon-dating carried out in New Zealand has determined the skull dates from around 1300 AD. During early investigations, anthropologists ruled out the possibility of it being an indigenous skull, but its age predates European arrival on the east coast by 500 years.”

So if Europeans weren’t in or near Australia circa 1300, and it isn’t Aboriginal, whose could it be? Were sailors from Asia able to reach this area? Why did the skull take seven hundred years to wash up?

Bad Economy Kills Even Thrift Shops

July 10, 2009 at 1:24 pm | Posted in News | Leave a comment

We all know that lots of businesses have been forced to close because of this tanking economy. Well, even thrift shops are dropping like flies. The Salvation Army in Berkeley, California, was one recent casualty. has this story about another, in Ohio. Its headline is “Economy Closing Noble Road Thrift Store”:

“Marcie Coleman loves her store, and her customers have become like her family.

“‘I’ve spent some of the happiest moments of my life here,’ she said. But after about five years in the business, Coleman, 55, is reluctantly preparing to close the doors of her thrift store,” which is called Perfectionist.

“She will have items on sale until mid-July, but has started donating extra items to local charities.”

She also held a yard sale on July 4 to unload many items.

“Deciding to close the store was a difficult choice for Coleman, but mounting debt and the prospect of filing for bankruptcy gave her little choice.

“‘It was never about the money for me,’ Coleman said. ‘As long as the store could pay its bills and I could pay my help I was fine.’ But she can’t do that anymore. She is just another victim of the economy, she said.

“‘The store just isn’t making what it needs to make to stay afloat,’ she said.

“Coleman’s store sells a variety of thrift items, most of which she purchases at auctions. She sells clothing, appliances, shoes, movies, household items and toys. She also does office services including faxing, copying and notarizing. The store also sells snacks and pop.

Wallet Found in Tree

July 7, 2009 at 6:43 am | Posted in Finds | Leave a comment

BlackCherryTrunkIs there anyplace on earth that isn’t scavengeworthy? Stuff could turn up anywhere, anytime. As reported in the New York Post via KTVU-TV, a wallet missing since 1982 has just turned up inside a tree:

“Money doesn’t grow on trees, but a tree-care supervisor in New York City’s Central Park found an old wallet inside a dead one.

“The blue leather wallet had been stolen by a pickpocket 27 years ago. It was found in the hollow of a dying cherry tree. It was near where Ruth Bendik had hers swiped while she watched the New York City Marathon in 1982.
The 69-year-old Upper East Side resident says the only thing missing was $20 in cash. Her credit cards were still there. So were her student ID from Columbia University Teachers College and an employee ID from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

“The park worker says he found the wallet last week under five feet of compost. Police tracked down Bendik the next day.”

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