A few readers sent word that their local Goodwill stores had gone all out for Halloween, so of course, I wanted in on the fun.
Problem is, we don’t have a “local” Goodwill. I was tempted to drive out to the fantastic store we found back in May, but that much highway on Labor Day weekend sounded like a lotta traffic. We instead chose a closer store, only about ten minutes into Jersey. Though my GPS was under the impression that its address did not exist, it was so worth the navigational hassle. As a final FYI, this paragraph flows nicer if you read it in a staggered robot voice.
Halloween was ALL OVER this Goodwill. Entire aisles full of still-packaged and apparently-unused costumes were everywhere we turned, and for the first few moments, I was floating.
Then I got a look at the prices.
Oof. That was a spirit killer. I thought I’d landed in Halloween Valhalla, but it was really just another overpriced costume shop, somehow masquerading as a Goodwill. You know those “bagged” costumes that come with a mask and a cheap bodysuit? They wanted as much as 30 bucks for some of them. I suppose the prices weren’t outrageous for unused costumes, but when I go to a Goodwill store, I expect to treat my potential purchases with the same apathetic budgeting that one might employ in Dollar Tree. I don’t want angels and devils arguing across my shoulders. Not at Goodwill.
But it wasn’t all bad. Once we got past the costumes, the “junk shelves” had many cheaper treasures to offer. (Not dirt cheap and still not what I’d call “thrift store prices,” but at least I could consider purchasing these items without the demonic God of Guilt breathing fire up my ass. Fuck him and his horns, y’know?)
Now, when you look at the above photo, and I tell you that that was barely a fourth of their Halloween “junk shelf” items, you might think that I hit the jackpot. Actually, I really needed to hunt for the goodies. Between the prices and the fact that so much of it was the same stuff you’d find at any party store, the mosaic meant a lot less when you looked at the pieces individually.
But that just made “the dig” more fun. Whenever I found something that was worth buying and affordable, I tested my ability to scream Daniel Bryan’s catchphrase in alternate languages. By the time I got to “Hanji hanji hanji,” I was starting to get looks.
Here are the five ghoulish goodies I went home with!
#1: Vintage McDonald’s McBoo Pail!
Oui oui oui! This was the entire reason I went there. In the few photos people sent in from their own Goodwills, there always seemed to be a McBoo pail present. I prayed that the phenomenon would continue for me, and it did!
If you’re unfamiliar with McBoo pails, McDonald’s starting giving them away in the mid ‘80s. Most people anywhere near my age have so many awesome memories tied to them. Ostensibly meant to be used as trick-or-treat buckets, the McBoo family (mine is called “McWitch”) ultimately took much larger roles in our lives. They were perfect for everything from LEGO bricks to Crayola crayons, and so they became the only Halloween “decorations” that stayed out all year. (When I look at them, I don’t think of the Halloweens of my childhood. I just think of childhood in general. Does that make sense?)
McWitch is dated “1986,” and I can only imagine what she might’ve endured in the 25 years before I found her. She’s still smiling, if that’s a clue.
PS: In another “I’m old” moment, I’ll confess that I first wrote about these pails almost ten freakin’ years ago. Get off my lawn.
#2: Ninja Star Wound
Buying this was bittersweet, because the “2.99” price tag was obviously a holdover from the original retail store. That didn’t keep Mrs. Goodwill from ringing it up at that price. Three bucks doesn’t sound like a lot, but at Goodwill, it’s akin to ordering the surf ‘n turf.
I wasn’t interested in it for any practical reason. I just love the way Halloween “scar makeup” packages look. The assorted graphics are always so admirably contradictory. Here we have a boy bordering on death by way of a thrown ninja star, and he’s over a background that might be better suited to Manfredi Hyundai’s 4th of July commercial.
What turned this into a must-buy was the clarification on the lower right. “INCLUDES: One Ninja Star Wound with netting.” Only a moron would leave words like that behind.
#3: Troll Mask
This may have been the oldest “costume item” in the whole store. Back when Norfin Trolls were chic and exciting, there were a bazillion of these masks floating around, always with the same stupid face, but with a variety of Troll hair colors.
Goodwill had two of them. The other had hot pink hair. I don’t know why I didn’t pick that one, since I’d already covered “green” with my McWitch pail. I’m going to spend the rest of the day looking up hilarious “EPIC FAIL” image macros.
The half-mask keeps you from suffocating, but it also dampens the visual impact. If you’re going to wear this, keeping your true identity secret is an absolute prerequisite. I guess what I’m saying is… don’t go chasing old rubber Troll masks unless you have one of those jawlines that blends in.
#4: Random Monster Head
It’s a three-inch shrunken head, which, at one point, had light-up eyes and made noise. Not anymore, though. This disembodied head offers nothing beyond being a disembodied head.
I bought it because I felt bad for it. Even when surrounded by other Goodwill donations, it still seemed so frail and insignificant. There were ten thousand dusty things in that store, but this was the only one that clearly needed me. It helped that he has such a pleading face, too. And are those blue things supposed to be tears?
Well played, Hooded Demon Head. You tugged on all the right strings.
#5: COLORIZED Night of the Living Dead VHS
Pretty major score, IMO. It’s not worth anything, but it was just such an odd movie to find on a VHS rack that was otherwise filled with Dora, Dora and more Dora.
From 1987, it’s the special COLORIZED version of Night of the Living Dead. I’m assuming that the colorization process has been improved again and again over the years, but this is the ‘80s version. The movie’s colorization looked like a goofy Tim Burton style choice. Which is actually kind of great.
UPDATE: And here’s the part where you’ll swear I’m making things up.
I promise you, I’m not.
I’ve got the stuff from Goodwill all over my desk as I write this, in case I need to check a date or whatever. I just slid this video out of its box, hoping to discover a special edition “colorized” label. Instead, I found this:
I’ve been had! Black Triangle’s Penthouse Passions, from 1985? The fuck? I bought porn from Goodwill?!
This is fantastic. Had I noticed this earlier, I wouldn’t have wasted so much time writing about troll masks and McDonald’s freebies. This is where the action is. Holy shit.
So, piecing this together, I guess we had a case of some wayward teen trying to shield his “material” from prying parents. I love this so unbelievably much. I’m now the proud owner of a thirty-year-old dirty secret.
That’s worth so much more than a dollar.