Written by Jonathan Wojcik

2019 Goodwill Rescues!




Can you believe I used to HATE going into Goodwill??? I think it's because I spent so much of my childhood there with nothing to do. It was an all-day shopping trip to my mother, grandmother, aunts and literally all of their friends, who had to scrutinize and discuss almost every last coffee mug, scarf and ratty basket on every last Goodwill shelf to the point that I avoided setting foot in one for a solid four or five years once I was old enough to drive on my own.

But I guess they'd all be proud of the fact that every year, Goodwill is the thing I possibly look forward to most of all for my Halloween shopping. It's my second chance to find things long retired or completely overlooked from times gone by, including the store that finally united me with my Holy Grail of Halloween witches.

So we've got at least EIGHT Goodwills in driving distance of where we now live, and our friend and roommate Seth actually likes going inside of them too, so I've had an excuse to hit up almost every single one of them. Look at that pumpkin Seth found! It has a name and a big "7" on the bottom of it so we're pretty sure it was hand-made by someone who was, at the time, seven years old. It breaks our fucking hearts every time we look at its face. It is safe now. It has a loving home again.

As for some of the stuff I found...



UNNECESSARILY LARGE GHOST

This was almost two feet tall! There was a time I might have snapped it up, and I feel like it's probably worth a whole lot more than the $9.99 they had on it. In fact, whenever you see detailed, "cartoony" Halloween characters like this, they're probably an 80's or 90's product by a company called Paper Magic Group, and some of them are worth a small fortune. Anyway, the best thing about this ghost are the transparent yellow eyes, which probably lit up, and the level of detail in its teeth and tongue.



BLEEDING SKELETON PLATE

I have this same skeleton design on a plastic pail somewhere. It wouldn't be so remarkable if not for the single drop of blood leaking from one eye socket, making an ordinary image of a waving skeleton into something far more grotesque and goth as hell.



HAUNTED HOUSE FIGURINE

I call this a "figurine" of a haunted house rather than JUST a "ceramic haunted house" or something for the simple fact that the windows are stylized into eyes, turning the whole house into a spooky character! I feel like this is something sorely underappreciated in Halloween imagery; a house resembling a creepy face is common, yes, but the whole haunted house isn't presented as a "being" or "monster" or "character" in its own right nearly as often as it should be, except for that CG movie Monster House, which still failed to help establish the trope any firmer. Anyway, I did actually buy this and love it.



THE DEVIL

This thin, bendable, fabric stick-figure Satan had a home made sort of feel, and just hilarious. The supposed lord of all evil and darkness and suffering easily looks silly, but this is one of his silliest.



A RAT HAT

So this is a huge giant witch hat with a poseable wiggly tip, and a Jim Henson looking cartoon rat grabbing onto it, finely sculpted and painted in latex rubber. It's so excessive and so whimsical! This is real, true fashion.



PSYCHEDELIC GHOST

What in the world is going on with this ghost's eyes?! Which part is eyelid? Which part is eyeball?!



SKULL BAT WALL DECOR

I really regret not getting this, but it was also ten bucks, and I've long hit my limit for spending money this season. Heck, thanks to my kickstarted Insect Children's Book (which I'm still working on!) I had more money in August than I have ever had at one time in my entire life, but we moved into a whole new home which also meant a whole lot of important stuff to get. I'm not back down to only enough money to fulfill all those kickstarter promises, and I'm not touching one dime of that, because I'm not about to Ant Simulator anybody.

Where was I? Oh yeah, if I felt like I had a lot of extra Ten Buckses around, I'd have probably gotten this bat-winged skull. I just like the way it's painted and the fact that it was made out of hollow, semi-flexible plastic. How great would it be if this was hanging over an actual real vampire count's front door but it was still just a plastic thing he got at Goodwill.



A CUSTOM ANIME-EYED PUMPKIN

What I love about this pumpkin is that somone not only drew anime eyes on it, but two different anime eyes, even different sizes, and added nothing else before it wound up at a Goodwill. That's kind of sad actually, just not quite as sad as that first pumpkin we looked at.



THE "SCARY PIC"

They really wanted to move this thing, since it kept getting shuffled around the same store into different displays. I think it finally did sell to somebody, and I'm glad, because it deserves a good home. I really have no idea what it's supposed to be, as that woman's outfit looks highly specific and really futuristic, plus she's surrounded by all these smoky, amoebic black tentacles with one even covering her mouth from the viewer. I think that last detail is what makes it eeriest.



TALKING VULTURE CANDY BOWL

This is apparently a 2004 item by the company "Dept. 56," and I KNOW this one must be worth something but I kind of had to delicately balance the Vulture back on the bowl for this photo because its legs were just that ruined. It's gone now, though, which means it must have gone to a new home, and I'm glad. The head is designed to rotate, the mouth animate, and the wings even flap a little bit as it talks about candy in a deep, Boris Karloff sort of voice, which I took a video of that I'm too lazy to dig up now. I never delete anything and have something like a hundred million photos and videos on my computer across fifteen million folders. Sometimes I think about them and get anxious, but then I also get anxious about the thought of ever permanently losing anything I ever thought was interesting at the time.

UPDATE: it took me writing the rest of this article for my computer to finish telling me how many files I actually have, because I was tired of just flagrantly guessing like that.

It's actually currently 203,742 files in 1,468 folders.



SKULLS SKULL

I took a single look at this and could not even contain myself. Was I correct in finding it one of the single funniest things I've ever seen? Or at least one of the single funniest skull-related objects? It's one big skull with a giant pointy mountain of little tiny skulls on top of its head. That's preposterous. It was clearly conceived of to look cool or even frightening but all I can think of is "Mama Skull and Her Babies."



WAIT WHAT

I can't believe I almost passed this by, JUST because it's a perfectly normal, innocent looking teddy bear on a swingset. Which it is, but then immediately adjacent to that bear is...



Good lord. They didn't even try to frame their teddy bear witch with a sweet, innocent, cartoon Halloween tree. It's just a straight-up snarling demon tree screaming in a mix of hatred and agony as an entire snake tunnels out of its left eye socket. The contrast of moods here are just unbelievable. It's like someone was commissioned to sculpt a Halloween teddy bear and was sick and tired of having to be saccharine so they poured all their rage into just the tree, and nobody could do anything because the contract only said that the bear had to be cute. Hell is leaking and this bear is swinging from it.



...What do those eyes know that we don't.


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