The Betsey Johnson Watch, or, Why You Need to Look at EVERYTHING in a Thrift Store

Last weekend, Dean and I went thrifting. We had a free day and decided to spend it bumming around town looking at antique and thrift stores for anything interesting and unusual.

You know, that’s the main reason we thrift and antique. It’s not that we necessarily need anything. It’s truly the thrill of the hunt that keeps us going.

Our local Goodwills were having a special deal on all clothing last weekend. Georgia didn’t participate in the “sales tax-free weekend” this year, so Goodwill was running a great deal on all clothing for those looking to save some money on back-to-school purchases. $3 for adult clothing. $1.50 for children’s clothing. What a bargain, considering the wide assortment of things to sort through.

This day’s visit was meant to be, in oh-so-many ways.

For this post, I want to concentrate on a last-minute discovery and stress the importance of looking at every case, rack and shelf at every thrift store you visit.

Dean took off to the men’s department and I ran back to shoes and purses. As is usual for me, I came up short there. No shoes in my size that I liked. No purses at all to speak of.

Not a problem.

Next, I moseyed over to the jackets. I’ll admit, I have a weakness for outerwear. Crazy, since I live in a portion of the country where we typically have mild winters. Over the past two years I have collected some amazing jackets and coats. I don’t think I’ll get to the place where I won’t at least look.

And look I did. Holy cow the find. There will be a post on this very soon.

I grabbed the jacket for dear life and tried it on. Perfect fit. Perfect color. Perfect fabric. The angels sang, the heavens opened and the thrift gods once again bestowed me with an item to match and coordinate with nearly everything I have in my little mostly-thrifted wardrobe.

Dean had found a tie. Not much, but hey, we’ve discovered that men typically hold onto their clothing and don’t have as much turnover in their closets as women sometimes do. A tie is a big deal, especially since it is retro and will fit in with his gig attire.

Score, for both of us.

We got in line at a register where our favorite cashier was helping a customer. The customer chose to pay with a $100 bill and the cashier didn’t have enough change. We looked to our left and saw another register open with only one customer in line. So, we moved to that register.

There was a jewelry case at that register, a well-lit glass and metal case that held all kinds of trinkets. As I’ve been on the hunt for a watch, I thought that maybe I should take a peek to see what might be lying there.

Holy moly.

There was a wide gold and black animal print watch band, and on that watch band was an oversized golden watch encircled with tiny rhinestones. On the second hand was a bright pink heart. Across the mother of pearl face was written the name Betsey Johnson. The second hand wasn’t moving. Was it a broken watch, or just a dead battery?

Oh. My. Goodness.

I stared at it, my over-50-year-old eyeballs straining to see if this was a real Betsey. How would I know unless I asked to see it?

So ask I did.

The cashier pulled it out of the case. The watchband just fit my big wrist, and the watch itself was heavy. Quite heavy. The band was leather and stamped Betsey Johnson. If this was a fake, it was a damn good one. I noticed the price of watches listed on the jewelry case.

$5.05.

“Would you like to buy that?” the sweet cashier asked.

“Yes, please,” I replied, trying desperately not to look too excited. Someone at the Goodwill didn’t know what they had when they put that watch out on the sales floor.

I offered up a prayer of thanks to the unknown staff member, whoever he or she may be, and decided that if it was indeed broken, I’d still wear it as a groovy piece of jewelry.

We left the store with our treasures, and as soon as I got in the car I had to post on Facebook about my stroke of incredible luck.

betsey watch 2

Dean suggested we find a place to go have the battery replaced. After a couple more stops, we drove to Windsor Jewelers and walked in with it.

I was very nervous, standing in this jewelry store where cases of $21,000 Mikimoto pearl necklaces met me the moment I walked in. Here I was, holding a thrifted watch that hopefully only needed a battery to be functional again.

The store was beautiful and filled with jewels of every kind. The diamonds blinded me in their jewelry cases. I had to avert my eyes, but before I did so, I took a moment to check on the price of a pair of diamond encrusted hoop earrings in one of the very full cases.

$5,100.

Yikes.

An employee greeted me and took the watch back for a battery. I stood there, looking at the pearls and diamonds. Though happy for those who can afford and would purchase such things, I was thinking, “man, that pearl necklace is a brand new car…”

After a few minutes, the employee came out with my watch in hand, a smile on her face. She asked if we needed anything else. All I could do was smile at my watch. It was working. There were no blemishes on the face, no scratches on the case. It cost $16 to replace the battery. The watch came in at $21, a total cost that was a whole lot less than the price of a brand new Timex timepiece I had been thinking of buying for the sum of fifty bucks.

I share this little story to say that no matter what thrift store you go to, always look at everything. Enter the store knowing that you will be spending a little more time than usual in order to scout out the entire place. Keep your mind open to any possibility. You never know when a perfect item may fall into your path, so be keen and observant.

Happy hunting!

betsey watch

Photos by Betsey Venom

 

 

 

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