Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Victrola Magic

The people at the Beebe Hospital Thrift Store knew what they were doing when they put the 1930 wind-up Victrola right inside the door on the edge of the checkout counter.

The piece attracted Doug just like the rows of candy bars at the grocery store checkout attract five-year-olds. 

He has always looked longingly at console models of vintage record players but passed them up knowing that we have no space for them.

But this one was a portable, a perfect fit for our tiny 1939 cottage.

The record player was in beautiful condition and was priced accordingly--it was $300. After giving it a quick glance, I continued into the store and started looking at other things, but Doug was truly like a kid in a toy store--he couldn't drag himself away. Finally, he began to wander aimlessly around the store, but his heart wasn't in it--I could tell he wasn't really seeing the housewares, books, clothes, picture frames and other thrift-store-priced items on the shelves.

The women that work at the store are all volunteers, but they are no amateurs when it comes to marketing.

A handy little cubby inside the lid of the Victrola case holds records:

and this one just happened to come with three, one still in its original paper jacket:

The ladies pulled one out, wound up the player, and gently set the needle down on the heavy black disk. A scratchy 1930s polka boomed out of the speakers, and Doug's jaw dropped. 

That was when I knew it was a done deal.

If we had found the player in an antiques store, I definitely would have bargained with them for at least 10 percent off. But in a charity thrift store, that just doesn't feel right--you might as well steal from cancer patients.

So... the day had started off with real bargains--a $10 vintage sewing machine (the subject of my last blog entry) and two Wonder Shredders for 50 cents each (we got the large and small ones in this set of three--now we have something else to hunt for):

But it ended with one of our most expensive purchases ever.

And of course now Doug has something else to look for in our travels. The next day, I caught him picking through a cardboard box of old 78s in an antiques barn in Strasburg. He came home with just one Jimmy Dorsey record for $3.

A couple of days after we bought the record player, he admitted that he had been ready to walk away without buying it until those devious aqua-jacketed clerks cranked it up.

"They had me at polka," he said.


  1. I have a stack of LPs I need to give to a good home. They are an eclectic mix...mostly instrumental...but if you guys are interested, let me know and I'll write up what I have for your perusal.

    1. Thanks for reading my blog and commenting. This machine plays 78s--is that what you have? My husband would LOVE to get some more records! Let me know? Where do you live?