Thrift Shopping in Marin County California

Why go thrift shopping in Marin County California? For one thing, Marin County has one of the highest per capita incomes in the US. That means that the thrift stores there get their stock from a high-income populace who wear good quality clothing with designer labels and who probably replace items in their wardrobes more often than the hoi polloi can afford to. Secondly, at least in San Rafael, there seems to be a cluster of thrift shops near one another because the typical consumer is a lower income person. And yes, there are poor people in Marin County. I checked out three stores in San Rafael. The first one was the Goodwill located At 805 Lincoln Avenue.



This is a big store with large Men’s and Children’s departments as well as Women’s. The prices were a bit higher than what I’m used to on the east coast, but not outrageous by any standard. I saw Ann Taylor blouses in excellent condition for under $10, lots of low priced Banana Republic items and a nice leather skirt for $10.00. There were some interesting looking items on the shoe racks, but I didn’t investigate. (My wide bumpy and mangled toes limit where I can buy shoes.) Hospice By the Bay Hodgepodge Thrift Store has less clothes and more dishes and tschotskes. There are a lot of the latter to choose from if you want to furnish a new place on the cheap with expensive looking items. They are nicely displayed.


Hospice By The Bay didn’t have as great a variety of clothes as were as the Goodwill and they were a bit more expensive, but they do important work and  certainly deserve to be supported.   Most of the items were dressy or casual Friday office wear. Very little men’s and children’s clothes.

Image for Success Retail proceeds enable IFS to provide complimentary wardrobes to these in need.  Women’s clothing, good condition, older styles and trendier takes, designer labels and a nicely curated shoe department. You can get a formal gown or a casual look. Smaller then Goodwill and more expensive but it seems like the the clothes are screened and uniformly in good condition. Women’s dresses only    

Mill Valley has a well-earned reputation as a bastion of  affluence. The high school looks more like a well-kept hotel to a golf resort than a dungeon of higher learning. I have heard that the people are supposed to be snobby but everyone I had contact with during my thrifting exploration was very friendly.


I walked into consignment shop Diamonds  in the Rough  thinking it was a thrift shop.   It’s not, There were a lot of designer labels-Christian Dior clothes, Jimmy Choo shoes and Kate Spade bags as well as less expensive brands like Ann Taylor and Jones New York. Oddly enough, some of the clothes seemed to be in less than mint condition for a consignment store. The prices were high but for some shoppers used to buying at high-end boutiques, a store like Diamonds in the Rough could produce a real bargain.


The Family Thrift Store is right next to Diamond in the Rough and it was my hands-down favorite. It carries men’s and women’s clothes, children’s items,  housewares, and pretty much everything else.   There’s one pricing scheme except for a few specially marked items.


For example, all women’s tops are $5.00 except for those marked differently



like the Eileen Fisher silk shell that I snagged for $8.50!


Silk hand-dyed scarf $3.50!

I hit a few more stores between Mill Valley and Ft. Bragg that I’ll write about in another post.


Beads of a Different Stripe

I have been busy trying  lamp working techniques this summer.  Striped beads are made differently than I would have thought.  Instead of drawing stripes on the bead with a stringer you  lay down dots, put on a layer of  clear glass and melt it slowly.  This serves to magnify the dots underneath which appear as stripes!  How cool is that?  Here are the basic steps:

Base bead

Make a base bead

First dotsAdd some dots.  Don’t melt in.

dotsAdd dots on top of dots.  Don’t melt in.

 Clear wound aroundAdd a couple layers of clear over the dots only.  Think of a shape like the planet Saturn with its rings.


 Begin to heat the clear glass.  Slowly so the glass doesn’t pop or crack.

 wrapsBring up the heat to melt the clear glass.  This magnifies the dots underneath

TorchingPick it up a bit and keep the mandrel turning.


Stripes taking shape2Because you don’t want your bead to sag.

Stripes taking shape

Let the bead cool slowly and keep it turning to maintain the shape

coolerAlmost finished.

Beads2   And here are the finished beads.  This could get addicting!

Don’t forget Bead Fest this weekend!


Flowers of Mendocino

The flowers in Mendocino are incredible and the colors are wild. There is no bee shortage here. I’ve seen more than one hummingbird too.

We went to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens yesterday to see the fuchsias and the dahlias. Some of the pictures below are from that trip but I took most in the little town and near the shore of this idyllic place.













Here’s the view from our hotel.


What I Saw in San Francisco






Trees on Lombard Street


Near Chinatown


Transamerica Building


Coit Tower




A giant machine looming over a downtown construction site


Giant Redwoods in the Muir Woods


And last but not least. . .