Fatherhood is never easy, especially with the added pressure of finding a bed to sleep in each night. Chris Gardner’s yearlong struggle with homelessness and fatherhood was depicted in the 2006 film The Pursuit of Happyness. This is the real story behind the movie.
Chris Gardner’s pursuit of happiness was seen in theaters by millions of people. However, Gardner’s life did not entirely mirror Will Smith’s portrayal of him. Beyond the events of the film, Gardner lived a difficult life before he made his millions.
A Troubled Childhood
Gardner was born in Milwaukee on February 9, 1954. He never really had any male role models in his life and continually saw his sisters’ father (Freddie Triplett) physically abuse his mother and his sisters. Chris was placed in foster care twice – once after his mother was falsely imprisoned for welfare fraud (accused by Triplett), and another time after she tried to burn Triplett alive in his home. In addition, his uncle Henry, a huge influence on a young Chris, died when Chris was nine.
A Blast From The Past
One of the most traumatizing moments from Chris’s childhood involved his stepfather. One Christmas when Chris was a teenager, an intoxicated Triplett burst into the bathroom while Chris was taking a bath. With a shotgun in hand, he ordered Chris to leave the house. Promptly, Chris ran out of the house naked and soaking wet into the frigid Wisconsin winter. He had already kicked Chris’s mother out of the house. Gardner said that the event still stays on his mind.
Serving His Country
After finishing secondary school, Gardner decided to follow in his Uncle Henry’s footsteps and enlist in the United States Navy. Chris was stationed in North Carolina at Camp Lejeune as a medical corpsman. In the film, Chris is depicted as selling medical equipment. While in the Navy, Chris befriended Dr. Robert Ellis, a cardiac surgeon that helped set him up with a clinical research position at the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco. He moved there after his discharge.
A Child Arrived Just The Other Day
Although he was married to another woman, Chris began a relationship with a woman named Jackie Medina. He eventually moved in with Jackie after she became pregnant with their child. Christopher Jr. was born on January 28, 1981. Although he had hoped to become a physician, he had abandoned his dream when he fully realized the time and money it would take to get there. He was working as a lab assistant but did not make enough to support a girlfriend and child.
The Moment That Changed It All
In the film, Will Smith’s Christopher approached a well-dressed man in a red Ferrari on the street and asked: “What do you do?” Gardner actually did this. However, it was a bit different than it was depicted in the film. Unlike the film, Chris approached this stockbroker in a parking garage while Christopher Jr. was still an infant. The man then followed up and met Chris for lunch to explain the basics of Wall Street, altering his life forever.
A Wall Street Introduction
By speaking with the stockbroker, Chris’s world opened up. The man, Bob Bridges, not only gave him the lowdown on the industry but helped him organize meetings with branch managers at big brokerage firms. Bridges was quite successful, earning over $80,000 a month, had great connections and was willing to help Chris get his foot in the door. Chris canceled all of his sales appointments so he could interview with these companies in hopes of placing into a training program.
One of the biggest pieces of misinformation from The Pursuit of Happyness involves Chris’s job before the training program. Although Chris did sell medical supplies, the film’s writers added the part in which Chris put his life savings into some portable bone density scanners. He did not go broke from purchasing the units himself before attempting to sell them. Also, he sold various medical products, not just the scanners depicted in the film. The products were generally of one brand.
Don’t Go Chasing Bone Density Scanners
One of the most intense scenes in the film involved Will Smith chasing after a man that had stolen one of his bone density scanners. While crossing the street, he is hit by a car and becomes quite emotional. This did not actually happen. Gardner never mentions it in his book nor has he mentioned this in any of the numerous interviews that he has given. It is just a piece of dramatic imagination drummed up by screenwriter Steve Conrad.
Chris’s Troubles Mount
Unfortunately, Chris’s acceptance into the E.F.Hutton training program turned into nothing when the hiring manager was fired. He continued to apply to other programs, but his personal life was also in shambles. His relationship with Jackie reached a head when she tried to run off with Chris Jr. While trying to take Chris Jr. from her arms, he swung her into garden bushes. Police arrested Chris and additionally charged him with owing $1,200 in parking tickets.
Dean Witter Enters The Picture
Chris’s first break within the finance world was with brokerage Dean Witter Reynolds. Unlike in the movie, Chris did not befriend a Dean Witter employee by impressing him with completing a Rubik’s cube. That was added for dramatic effect. He did befriend a broker named Marty that helped him along the way. However, after his spat with Jackie, Chris arrived back at home from prison to find an empty apartment as Jackie had taken their son to the East Coast.
An Interesting Interview
The movie got one thing about his Dean Witter interview correct – he did not come dressed appropriately. His spat with Jackie landed him in jail for ten days. When he got out, he stayed at his friend’s house. Chris had his interview the next day and only had a Members Only jacket and sneakers splattered with paint to wear. He might not have made the “pants joke” from the film, but he told Mr. Albanese the truth about his appearance sans the jail part.
Paid In Full…Sort Of
The Pursuit of Happiness got another thing wrong about Chris’s acceptance into the Dean Witter Reynolds training program – he actually did get paid. It made for a nice story that he was working full days without a salary, but trainees received $1,000 a month. It was not the full salary that brokers make, but it was more than enough for a man selling medical equipment. Soon enough, Chris would understand what it meant to make the big bucks.
Chris Jr. Comes Home
After four months, Jackie returned to San Francisco with two-year-old Christopher Jr. Chris’s training salary provided some living expenses but not nearly enough for Chris and his boy. Chris and Jackie decided that it was best for Junior to stay with his father. However, this caused another major issue. Even though he was employed, the building that Chris was living in did not allow children. They would have to find alternative living quarters.
Keeping A Secret
Embarrassed by his situation, Christopher decided to keep both his son and his homelessness a secret from his co-workers. He was still diligently working through Dean Witter’s training program but had to provide for his son too. Many nights they had to choose between money for food or money for shelter, frequently choosing food. By prioritizing food over shelter, the dynamic duo had to constantly look for new and creative places to stay so Christopher could save up for permanent housing.
Age Is Just A Number
Fans of The Pursuit of Happyness might be surprised to learn the real age of Christopher Jr. during the events of the film. In reality, Christopher Jr. was two years old. The film producers and writers decided to make him five years old so he could have more meaningful interactions with Chris Sr. in the film. Gardner approved of the change because he realized they could tell his story better. Jaden Smith was seven at the time he played Chris Jr.
A Good Poppa
In a touching moment with his son (onscreen and real life), Will Smith’s Christopher shared a true moment with Jaden/Chris Jr. In the film, while they were still homeless, Chris Jr. told his father that he was “a good poppa.” When Chris and Chris Jr. were finally off the street, Chris Jr. shared his kind words. Gardner was giving Chris Jr. a bath when he stood up and said, “Poppa, you know what? You’re a good poppa.”
The Most Unfortunate Of Housing Options
Christopher was willing to go to great lengths to find places to sleep. In the direst of circumstances, Christopher and his son slept on the bathroom floor of the MacArthur BART station in Oakland. This is accurately depicted in the The Pursuit of Happyness. They only slept on the floor for a couple of nights, but made the most of the BART for shelter. They would also sleep on the BART trains.
Chris Takes Will On A Field Trip
To prepare for the film, Chris took Will Smith to see the actual bathroom in which he slept with Chris Jr. Gardner told Smith that it made him uncomfortable to be in there for too long, but Smith decided to take in the scene after Chris left the restroom. Gardner said, “We left him in there for a good five minutes, and when he came out he was not Will Smith, he was Chris Gardner.”
Money was tight for Chris, so he had to get creative in how he earned a buck here and there. On several occasions, he gave blood for cash. It did not get him much, but it was better than nothing. Chris never felt good about giving blood for money because it allowed him to see desperation at a whole new level – not only from others that he considered below him but from himself as well.
A Cigarettes Scam
As he was attempting to scrape together money, Christopher learned of a scam to earn some bills. One day, Gardner saw a man fighting with a vending machine for cigarettes in a hotel. When the man went to the front desk and asked for a refund, they obliged. Over the next two weeks, Chris adopted this into a ploy of his own. He would tell the desk that a vending machine ate his money and they would give him a “refund.”
Finding Shelter In A Church
Like the film, Chris did frequent the Glide Memorial Church for shelter. One thing the movie did not detail is that the church only took in homeless mothers with kids. The church’s reverend, Cecil Williams, made a special exception for Chris and Chris Jr. Reverend Williams played himself in the film too. Chris felt indebted to Reverend Williams and vowed to pay him back for sheltering them. He eventually helped bankroll a $50 million project headed by Williams for low-income housing.
Reverend Williams’ Words Stayed With Him
Chris truly cherished the help that Reverend Williams gave to him. Not only did he appreciate him offering shelter, but Chris was moved by his words too. Reverend Williams hammered into Chris’s head that “baby steps count too.” Those simple words were quite helpful in keeping Chris motivated and moving forward. By repeating “baby steps count too” to himself as he roamed the streets of San Francisco, Chris stayed positive and worked toward his goal.
Break On Through To The Other Side
Chris was a natural during his training program and was one of the best performers in the program. Early into the program, he passed his Series 7 Exam which allowed him to become a full employee at the company. Bear Stearns was impressed with his work and tried to recruit him. In the end, he was hired by Dean Witter thanks to his sensational work ethic. He made around 200 calls, coming in early and staying late each day.
He Was Not The Only One
Dean Witter’s training program was incorrectly portrayed in the film. The Pursuit of Happyness made it seem as if only one person from the training program could be hired by the company. In fact, Dean Witter welcomed any of their trainees to join the company so long as they passed the licensing exam. At the end of the program, Chris was hired because he scored an 88% on the test. It was a good start to his stockbroker life.
The Story Reaches The Public
In 2006, Gardner published an autobiography detailing his struggle and rise titled The Pursuit of Happyness. Gardner chose to change the spelling from ‘happiness’ to ‘happyness’ to reflect a trying time in their past. When Chris and his son were taking up shelter in Oakland near MacArthur Park, they frequently passed by a daycare center which had purposefully misspelled ‘happyness.’ He was learning about the “food chain” of daycare in the country so he could send Chris somewhere.
He Has Another Child
Due to the timeframe of the film, Chris’s life beyond the movie is rarely discussed. One part that is left out is that he has another child. After the events of the film, Christopher and Jackie began speaking again. She quickly became pregnant with their second child. Jacintha Gardner was born in 1985. Although she was born in Los Angeles, not far from Chris’s home in San Francisco, Jacintha did not spend much early life with Chris as he had moved to New York.
Welcome To The Concrete Jungle
In 1985, Chris jumped across the country to New York. He had been working for brokerage firm Bear Stearns in San Francisco but had transferred to their Wall Street office. While he was in New York, Chris wanted Chris Jr. to grow up with his sister, so he sent him to Los Angeles to live with his mother. After two years in New York, Chris had had it and decided to move to Chicago.
The move to Chicago was not only great for Chris professionally, but also personally. For starters, he opened his own brokerage firm, Gardner Rich & Company. After struggling to make ends meet, he was now employing people of his own. In addition, the move to Chicago allowed Christopher to move Chris Jr. and Jacintha to Chicago to live with him. While he dealt with the pressures of managing a firm, he had many relatives in nearby Milwaukee to help out with the kids.
A Naive Boy
Gardner did such a great job of putting on a facade of normalcy for his son that Christopher Jr. did not even know that they were homeless. He did not know until he was grown. The now-36-year-old said in an interview, “I didn’t know we were homeless. I just remember that we were doing a whole lot of moving. I just know that when I looked up, he was there. I looked around, he was there.”
From Rags To Super Riches
By 1988, Christopher had achieved an incredible feat – he earned over $1 million in a single year. He was 34 years old and ecstatic with his achievement. To reward himself, Gardner decided to buy himself a Ferrari. It was not red like the one that inspired him to become a stockbroker, but a Ferrari nonetheless. The car was not just any Ferrari either – it had belonged to basketball legend Michael Jordan. His customized license plate read, “NOT MJ.”
Mama Knows Best
When Chris was young, he dreamed of becoming a millionaire. He watched as ballplayers raked in huge contracts each year and he wanted to be a part of it. His mother continuously told him that he could be that successful too. Gardner said, “I just had to find the right venue. It took me 15 years, but the day I walked into a Wall Street trading room, I knew, this was the place my mama was telling me about.”
A Quick Cameo
The Pursuit of Happyness was a huge hit as millions became captivated by Christopher’s story. Will Smith was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of Chris. The next time you see the film, look closely, and you can find Chris. Just before the credits, Chris has a brief cameo. He is dressed in a suit as he walks past Will and Jaden Smith. It is that he could be a part of the project that introduced him to the public.
Following the release of the film and his autobiography, in addition to his financial successes, Chris is now worth around $60 million. He founded a new company called Gardner International Holdings in 2006 after selling his share in Gardner Rich. They have offices in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. He travels around the world as a motivational speaker and devotes much of his time to philanthropic causes. His story is an inspiration to many, and he continues to share how his struggle helped him become a success.
Paying It Forward
Chris is thankful for the help he received along the way. He decided to pay it forward to a woman named Niyokie when he became successful on his own. As a junior in high school, she earned an internship with Chris’s firm. She came from a community of substance abusers and teen pregnancies. After she completed the internship, Chris gave her a college scholarship. She became the first of her 12 siblings to graduate from a four-year university.
Many people think that thrift stores are just places full of outdated junk. Truth is there’s always a chance you’ll find a hidden gem at your local thrift shop. In this article, we’ll be looking at the top 40 cool finds people scored at thrift shops.
Blast From Your Own Past
We all know the expression Blast From The Past. But how about being reminded not only of your own past but of something you created that changed popular culture and created millions of fans worldwide? Well, that’s what happened to this lovely lady when she found this cool Super Mario brothers suit at a thrift store in California. Cool fact: This lady was one of the animators of the Mario Brothers 3 video game back in 1987. How weird is it to create something and then find it again years later on a fabulous piece of clothing?
Another great prom find from a thrift store. These two are completely decked out in fabulous clothes that are reminiscent of the 1920s. From a beautiful flapper dress to the gorgeous bow tie and suit, this really is a great way to stand out and look original on that special night. Great thing about a find like this is that it can be worn to any occasion, from a prom to a Halloween party.
Rock Band Souvenirs
We’ve seen various items on this list that have been blasts from the past. Imagine if you’re a guy who used to play bass guitar in a local band. One day you wander into your local goodwill store and find a t-shirt with your old band’s name and logo on it! We’re guessing Walking Seven never hit the big time, but what a cool find to see in your local shop years later. You never know, if the band gets back together this might be worth quite a bit!
One of the world’s most famous writers was Ernest Hemingway, who penned such classics as The Sun Also Rises and For Whom The Bell Tolls. One of Hemingway’s most famous novels was The Old Man And The Sea. As such, this hand-signed copy would sell for quite a chunk of change at auction. Lucky for this buyer, he got it for $2 at a yard sale. Of course, no one knows if this is Hemingway’s actual signature or a brilliant forgery. It sure would be something special if it was real!
1900s Are Back In Fashion
One of our favorite things is walking around museums, looking at historical artifacts and imagining what it must have been like to live during that time in history. So imagine how cool it would be to find a trunk load of clothes from the last century at your local thrift shop. Check out this gorgeous dress…in perfect condition! Wearing something as unique as this might start a whole new fashion trend.
Wow! We really, really want one of these. How cool to be able to turn on a lamp and have a flower light up? This one was found and purchased for $5. Its called an Aerolux Light. Apparently, the Aerolux Light Corporation was a manufacturer of artful gas-discharge light bulbs from the 1930s through the 1970s. Although you probably can’t buy these light bulbs anymore, you never know what you’ll find at your local thrift store.
See we’re not sure if this is weird, cool, or cool weird. Somebody thought they would kill two birds with one stone, and make a purse out of some old underwear. Sounds simple enough. Just add some wood to use as handles. And presto: Behold the new staple item you never knew you needed. Honestly, we don’t think this is going to be the newest fashion trend any time soon. We don’t even think its inventor thought the whole thing through. It’s kind of a problem when a purse has two holes from where everything could fall out.
Cast your mind back, and we mean way back. You might remember a time before electric or gas ovens when people used iron stoves. Instead of turning on a switch and heating up your food, these coal-powered babies were used for everything from cooking to heating. Now, imagine finding a miniature iron stove, one so small that it can be used inside a doll house. Seeing the miniature stove side by side next to these cats shows you how really teeny tiny it is.
Remember these babies? Mix tapes were how you would record your favorite songs from the radio or CD. Then, you would give the customized tape as a present to someone you really loved. Those of you old enough to remember cassette tapes will truly appreciate this inspired creation. The genius idea is the brainchild of a lady in Canada. What she did here is collect a bunch of old tapes, especially mix tapes, and turn them into a mural on her studio wall. Seeing the miniature stove side by side next to these cats shows you how really teeny tiny it is.
Finding a pair of reasonably priced socks might not be the coolest find in the world. But what about finding a pair that has the exact same face as your dog? This dog is identical to those socks, down to the left ear straining to hear what’s going on. Maybe the owner could make her dog famous and create an Instagram account for it. By having its own line of merchandise already, this K9 is well on its way towards super-stardom.
Total Fashion Steal
Now this is a total fashion steal! The owner probably couldn’t believe their luck when they found this gorgeous bag for $5 at a goodwill store. It’s beautiful, curvy and effervescent. Even better: It looks exactly like those famous Issey Miyake Bao Bao bags. We don’t know if it’s a genuine bag or a knock off. In any case the new owner got a definite deal…what a steal!
Seriously, who doesn’t love unicorns? Nowadays, people have entire rooms plastered with unicorn pictures, calendars, mugs and anything else you can imagine. But this little jewel isn’t only original, it’s way ahead of its time. You see, it dates back to way before the modern day unicorn phenomenon. After her fantastic thrift shop find the new owner did a little background check on the origins of this beauty. Turns out that it’s a cloisonne bracelet from the late 70s to early 80s. What a cool find!
Prom time is a special time, a moment young people have been dreaming of their entire high school lives. You want to look beautiful, classy and original. There’s nothing worse than someone copying your prom dress on prom night! Thankfully, this new dress owner probably won’t have to worry about that. This unique thrift shop find is unlikely to be copied anywhere, anytime. Not sure if this is an ice skater’s leotard or a super sequin dress from the 80s. You pick!
Like we mentioned previously, we’re all trying to be as environmentally conscious as we can. That’s why we always aim to reuse and recycle. And so even though there’s nothing more special than a wedding dress, let’s remember that it’s still a piece of clothing that’ll only be worn once. If you want to save some bucks and find a real gem you might try looking for a wedding dress at your local thrift store. This lady found something amazing, a beautiful off the shoulder wedding dress for $25. $25 isn’t bad, especially when you consider the original cost. The original price tag was still on the dress: $1595!
When You Gotta Go
This list might well reveal a bit of a cat obsession on our part. But we think you’ll forgive us after we’ve shown you this next thrift shop find. Ever wonder what a cat looks like when it’s desperate to go to the bathroom? Well, here you go! Two super funny cat pictures that were bought for $1 each. Wouldn’t it be great to have these hanging in your bathroom? What an affordable, unique and hilarious addition to your home!
Stephen Hawking Book
Another hand-signed book, this one purchased for a grand total of 99 cents at a goodwill store. This time, it’s a book by legendary British physicist Stephen Hawking. The text, however, was definitely penned by someone else. Stephen Hawking suffered from Motor Neurone disease, which left him paralyzed. But his thumbprint lets us know that Hawking witnessed and approved the signature. Stephen Hawking died in 2018, so this will most certainly be worth more than 99c in the future.
Words To Live By
It’s always good to have little mantras in life. Classic examples include “Work Hard, Play Hard”, “You Only Live Once” and “Carpe Diem”. These are the kinds of words that can help you get through those difficult times and spur you on. Now, this saying engraved on wood might not be as famous as those others. Still, we think it’ll do the trick and give you a laugh to boot. If you want to make it to the fine old age of 100 this sounds like sage advice, don’t you think?
Easels are used by painters to rest a painting on while a new masterpiece is being created. Traditional easels like this are very hard to come by. This easel looks like it must be hundreds of years old. Check out all those paints in the drawers. The person who found this gem may have gone into the thrift shop just looking for some standard art supplies. This find must have made that lucky person’s month! And this magnificent find was only $20!
New Wallet New Find
This brown leather wallet was bought at a thrift store for 25c. Peanuts, right? But then the new owner opened up the wallet and found at least $100. Talk about getting a great return on your investment! Who knows how this wallet ended up at a thrift store? But with no way of contacting the original owner, this is definitely a case of finders keepers.
All you rock lovers out there will appreciate this. With vinyl and record players coming back into fashion, record sales have hit the roof. Now, imagine finding a first printing of ’70s rock group Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here album. The record you stumble upon is still wrapped in the original plastic. Total cost…$1! I bet the original owner wishes the record was still with them. A serious vinyl collector would be willing to pay top dollar for this.
Sure, we’ve had some useful items on this list. But let’s face it, some of these finds have also been pretty useless. However, some things are just so beautiful that we just had to add them. This bamboo stick was found for $1. When it was opened up intricate and beautiful musical scenes greeted the lucky new owner. Maybe this is an instrument, or maybe it’s just a decoration. In any case, some items are simply and totally unique.
Want to look sophisticated while checking the time, instead of glancing at your smartphone? A thrift shop visitor found this incredible 1894 Elgin wristwatch for $10. Elgin watches were a major US watch maker that manufactured watches for a century, until the 1960s. These watches were famous for keeping amazing time. Only $10 and in perfect condition…a real treasure!
If you’re familiar with the Netflix series The Toys That Made Us, then you’ll know that these toys are worth way more than the $2.98 that someone visiting a thrift shop paid for them. All of these are unique Star Wars figurines and were sold together for a batch price. Turns out that these are collectible items that could be worth thousands of dollars to serious Star Wars collectors! Next time you trip over your kid’s Lego pieces, keep in mind that you might be tripping over a future investment.
Harry Potter Table
Calling all Harry Potter fans! You need to get your hands on this table. How it ended up in a thrift store is anyone’s guess. It’s quite a small table, and is beautifully crafted. The name of each different house appears on a different chair. This would be a great way to play the sorting hat game, don’t you think?
Now this is what we call vintage. This bottle was found at a yard sale. It’s a vintage bottle of expensive champagne Mumm, located in France. It dates all the way back to World War II. If you look closely, you’ll see that it has “reserved for allied armies” written across it. What an incredible artifact, though we can’t be sure about the taste.
Elvis Concert Tickets
We have no idea if concert tickets are collectible items. Still, two authentic 1976 concert tickets to an Elvis Presley show is a cool thing to find. The original price was $12.50, which seems like peanuts compared to today’s concert prices. Maybe these wouldn’t have been worth a lot had they been sold at auction, but they’re definitely worth a million bucks to a true Elvis fan!
Aren’t we all looking for a large statue of a Greek god to put outside our yard? There’s nothing classier than turning the entrance to your home into a garden of the Gods, no? This lucky yard sale visitor found just that. Not sure about the price, but we’re guessing it was a bargain. Whatever rocks your boat!
This ring was found in a thrift store for just $10. Little did the store know that the fake gold, diamond, and emerald were actually real. It’s 10 karats, and the ring was appraised at $450, which is a really awesome find! It’s gorgeous too, with a beautiful hue of green on the emerald. It’s not really enough money to warrant selling, anyway, so it looks like someone has a new piece of bling to show off in the neighborhood!
It’s really aggravating to have someone write on a record, but this is just hilarious. While we don’t know how much this was purchased for, it looks like the fact that it was defaced just increases its value. Liszt looks like someone played a joke on him and he has no idea he’s got a shopping list written on his forehead. Meanwhile, the person who jotted this down probably completely forgot they ever did this. It could only have been made better if they had written “Chopin” instead of shopping.
Someone bought this set of serious Shun knives for only $75. That sounds like a lot to spend in a thrift store, but when it costs $1,000 for a set of these expertly crafted blades, paying less than 10% is a steal. Knives should always be kept sharp for maintenance, and there’s even a sharpener included. Furthermore, these look like they are in excellent condition, possible never before used. Thrift stores can be amazing places to upgrade your home at a reduced cost!
$5 Jackson Pollock
Teri Horton bought an ugly painting for $5 to give to her friend. Her friend thought it was ugly, too, and couldn’t fit it in her small home. Horton tried to sling it at a garage sale, but then an art teacher said it might have been made by Jackson Pollock. In the end, Horton has tried to get it authenticated and is currently asking for $50 million for the alleged original. There’s even a movie called Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock? based on her initial response to the art teacher.
Wurlitzer is a defunct musical instrument maker known for keyboard instruments that they produced, most notably pianos. However, they also produced many organs, both pipe and electric. Although the original company went out of business decades ago, there were several attempts over the years at reviving the brand. While a piano is a more popular instrument to put in your home, an organ does just fine too. This collector’s item is worth far more than the $0.50 spent on it in the thrift store!
This old textbook was bought for just $0.25. Interestingly, such artifacts don’t get properly appraised often enough in thrift stores. This can be an incredible opportunity, as people often pass things on without knowing their true value. This ultra-rare astronomy book is from 1851, before the Civil War, even! It was intended to be used by pupils at New York public schools, but then it appreciated in value over years. These have sold on eBay for over $200!
Antique Schumann Piano
This piano wasn’t in that great of condition, which explains the $57.77 price tag someone paid for it at a thrift store. They had to move it themselves, and remarked that it was one of the heaviest things they ever bought from Goodwill. This particular piano is from 1939, which makes it an antique. Luckily, they were able to restore it to playing condition with a little finagling so that all the keys work. If the strings are that old, though, they should probably be replaced.
Signed Weezer Collectible
CDs were supposed to replace vinyl, but now it seems vinyl is even more coveted and CDs are getting tossed out. It’s crazy to think about how much we all used to pay for these, but now you can buy in bulk at the thrift store. This actually cost less than a dollar at Goodwill, but it was actually signed by the band Weezer! There are definitely fans online that would pay much more than $0.99 for this signed piece of history.
Night Vision Goggles
Night vision goggles should be worth much, much more than the $2.99 asking price here. It could be that this pair was broken or something, which might explain the price tag, but even then it could be fixed and sold for a hefty profit. Apparently, according to the person who posted this, it’s working fine, making it quite the steal. Night vision technology isn’t cheap, and this particular type goes for a few hundred dollars if you want to buy it retail.
Arnold Palmer Memorabilia
Arnold Palmer isn’t just a delicious mix of lemonade and iced tea, but also the name of one of the most famous golfers who ever lived. He’s also one of the greatest, with 62 PGA titles to his name. Someone bought a trunk full of old Arnold Palmer memorabilia, including notes and photographs. That’s really incredible, and it certainly is worth a lot of money if it were auctioned. According to the person who shared this, their grandfather purchased it for just $5.
$200-Worth of Silver
This is perfect if you want to make Turkish (or Greek) coffee over open flames, which in and of itself makes it worth much more than the $1.50 price tag this person paid. But on noticing the writing on the bottom, they realized it was made from silver — 92.5% silver! It’s been appraised at $200, which makes this one of the cooler finds. The fact that you can use this to make coffee just makes it so much cooler.
This Elvis bag was bought for about $30 back in 2012 by an English senior citizen. Little did he know it was actually a designer bag made by Philip Treacy, a high-end Irish designer who has done work for Royals and more. It then came out that the bag was worth over half a million dollars! Although it’s probably not for his use, his penchant for searching for bargains at thrift stores and garage sales paid off when buyers started contacting him!
This was bought for just 96 cents! You might remember Fry drinking Slurm soda in the classic Matt Groening show Futurama. We’re all waiting for the show to come back after it was canceled (again), but at least now die-hard fans have something to occupy their time while they wait. Sadly, it doesn’t look like it will ever happen, yet there’s always hope. While you might think there’s actually soda in the cans at first glance, this is really a game that resembles Yahtzee.
Signed Picasso Poster
One man in Columbus, Ohio, was walking around a local thrift store when he spotted this cool Picasso print. It’s actually a poster for a 1958 exhibition of the artist’s sculptures. That’s a really cool poster, and warranted the steep $14 asking price. It’s an original, but what he didn’t realize when he first saw it was that it had been signed by Pablo Picasso himself! He ended up selling the find for a hefty $7,000, which is quite a return on investment.
Declaration of Independence
On July 4, 1776, the U.S. declared its independence from Great Britain, and the 24 copies of the original declaration are some of the most sought-after documents on Earth. One Pennsylvanian man spotted a painting of a country scene and bought it for $4, just because the frame it came in looked cool. When he opened it, he found that a piece of paper was hidden behind. It turned out that the piece of paper was an original copy of the Declaration of Independence and went for $2.4 million.
Star Wars Mania
Some people really don’t know how lucky they are. This is a recurring theme on this list. Star Wars memorabilia like what you see here can potentially fetch hundreds of dollars. Look closely: The stuff is perfectly packaged and in pristine condition. But amazingly, some of these figurines sold for a mere $5 at a yard sale. This photo will surely have some Star Wars collectors fuming! Whoever put this up for sale clearly didn’t know its value!
Thrifty Ace Ventura
Here’s another example of how you can get something great out of reusing and recycling. Wouldn’t this be perfect for a Halloween party? Look at how great this guy looks as our favorite ’90s pet detective, Ace Ventura. All these items were bought at a thrift store for a grand total of $8. Is it us or does this guy actually look like Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura?
Dollar Bill Artwork
Now this is a cool piece of art. It’s made up of six uncut dollar bills. Uncut currency sheets are common collector’s items. They are often sold as souvenirs by issuers. However, this beauty was bought at a yard sale for the extremely low price of 50 cents. Great piece of art that’s probably worth much more than 50 cents.
Unicorns Strike Again
As we noted in a previous item unicorns are huge! They seem to be everywhere you look. But some of the unicorn-themed stuff found at yard sales and thrift stores are simply one of a kind. You’d have to travel far and wide to find something like this unicorn mirror, especially at the bargain price of $13. No, you can’t see your face in the mirror. But isn’t it more important to stand in front of a galloping unicorn?
For a lot of people, cameras have become obsolete. Nowadays, we rely on smartphones that can pretty much do all the work of traditional cameras. Once upon a time, these Nikon and Canon cameras were worth at least hundreds of dollars. It’s quite extraordinary that someone was able to pick them up for $12 and $9.99, respectively. Why not head over to a second hand store to see if you can land a real bargain, and learn a totally different way to take photos?
Pulp Fiction Ornament
If you’re a huge Quentin Tarantino fan like us you’ve probably seen Pulp Fiction a million times. So, do you recognize this kangaroo ornament? It was the object where Bruce Willis’ character’s watch was placed in. The watch plays a pivotal role in the film, so we can only imagine how excited the person who picked it up at a local thrift shop must have been. Of course, we don’t know if this is the actual kangaroo ornament that was used in the film. In any case, it’s pretty cool.
For those of us who lived through the ’90s, the Burger Phone was the phone to have. Before cellphones and smartphones were even a thought in someone’s brain, Burger phones were everywhere. The 2007 film Juno dusted off this cultural relic and reintroduced it to a whole new generation. If you ever want to go old school, we definitely recommend doing it this way!
Sure, cats are always there for a hug and a cuddle. But they can also be demanding and capricious at times. This feline seems to epitomize the classic grumpy cat. So when its owners found this gorgeous four post blue velvet bed at their local store they jumped at the chance to put (or at least try and put) a smile on their kitty’s face. Full disclosure: We don’t think the bed improved the cat’s mood at all!
Back To The Future
If you know the Back to the Future franchise then you’ll know that the Michael J. Fox character, Marty McFly, would get around on his skateboard. That is of course before he started taking the DeLorean car/time machine for a ride. Of course, we don’t know if this is the actual kangaroo ornament that was used in the film. In any case, it’s pretty cool.
We’ve already mentioned the pair of socks with a picture of a dog that looks exactly like the owner’s dog. How about finding a t-shirt that has a picture of a man on it with the word ‘hipster’ written underneath? No big deal, until you realize that the image looks exactly like you! You’ve officially been outed as a hipster. What would be even cooler is if he took a picture of himself and then a picture of a picture of a picture…
Does anybody remember the Tamagotchi? It was a little computerized animal from Japan that you had to feed, water and look after. If you didn’t properly care for it the Tamagotchi would become mean and ugly. If you continued to not be nice to it, the Tamagotchi would eventually die. How great to see a Tamagotchi in its original packaging! It’s a shame we can’t see the real price but we’re sure it was a steal.