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.


“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.



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





My First Attempt at a Rockabilly Hair Clip

A week ago I was feeling crafty, so I thought about trying to make a from-scratch hair clip  to wear at the next King Cat and the Elders gig.

For a first try, I think this turned out pretty well.

In the future, I intend to do a series of photos and share how I put things together. Maybe if I get my courage up, I’ll consider tutorial videos. For now, this is what we’ve got to work with.

I made this hair clip before I came up with the notion to do this blog, so I’ve only got two photos to share. Below is a picture of the supplies I had on hand at the time.


I went to a craft store in search of dice beads, black feathers and a black flower. On my quest, I ran across a rhinestone-encrusted skull and crossbones pin.

(Oh yes, that bad boy was coming home with me!)

The first thing I did was pin the brooch into the center of the flower. A petal is popping out of the left eye of the skull. I like that. It’s rather macabre in a funny way.

The next thing I did was to take some black jewelry wire and attach four dice beads to it. Wrangling beads on wire while trying to fasten it behind a pin took some time, but I was able to get it all in place. It turned out pretty well I think.

Just don’t look too closely. Heh.

I cut the stem off close to the base of the flower. (It felt great pretending to be Morticia Addams for a few seconds.) Then I grabbed a piece of white felt, cut it into a round shape, and went at it with a black Sharpie. I stapled a rectangle of felt onto this and attached a hair clip while continuing to color the felt with the marker.

Once the backing was sufficiently black I stapled it to the back of the flower, attaching it to the petals as best as I could.

Being as I’ve never done anything like this before, anyone could see what an amateur job this was turning into. That is, until I pulled out the glue gun.

Heh heh heh.

I gathered five black feathers from my stash and arranged them to flare out on the right hand side of the clip. I wanted the clip to be worn on the left side of my head so I held my breath, started applying glue to the feathers, then BOOM.

The hair clip was complete!


To be truthful, making these things while watching the videos I’d recorded at the last King Cat and the Elders gig got me into a serious rockabilly spirit. I just couldn’t stop with the hair clip! I took some of the dice beads and whipped up a quick necklace and earrings, too.


Heavy and a bit wonky, the clip looks pretty good and feels fine in my hair. Below is a photo of me trying it on after the glue dried. Please ignore the fact that my makeup had melted off in the Georgia summer heat and my hair was a wreck. Yep, it’s that time of year here in the South. Yay.


All in all, it was an evening of creative frivolity, rockabilly music, and a bit of excitement in bringing an idea into reality.

What’s next on the agenda, creativity-wise? I guess we shall wait and see!

~ Francie

Here We Go…Where We End Up, No One Knows!

Welcome to the first blog post…the first installment in Betsey Venom’s “Venomous Vault!”

As I sit here typing these words, ideas form in my mind about where I want to take this blog, what I’d like to share, how I want to reach others. There are too many ideas vying for the chance to be the subject of this post, so I’ll pick and stick with one.

The subject? It’s pretty simple.

The sky’s the limit!

Do you enjoy making wearables? Do treasure hunts thrill you? Have you a passion for fashion? If so, you have found a friend here. Betsey Venom is all about creating cool things to wear and share, thrifting treasures and groovy threads, and fearlessly expressing one’s personal style.

Here you will find posts & pics of things I make, places I visit, treasures I thrift, and music I adore. I will also more than likely introduce you to the wildest rockabilly band in the land, King Cat and the Elders. I mean, after all, my hubby plays bass for the boys and rehearsals almost always happen here in my house. Why wouldn’t I want to brag on my man, as well as the five-piece band? 😉

Anywho, thank you for stumbling upon my little space in the blog-o-sphere. Let’s have some fun!

~ Francie