Newsflash: Thift shop where rich people live

Some newsflash, huh? Los Angeles has plenty of rich people, but many more poor people, and legions of dedicated thrifters. I’ve pretty much given up hope of finding bargains here. Your chances of happening on a really good find in this city is equivalent to being struck by lightning. But I’m learning that it pays to take little jaunts out of town now and then, to find better hunting grounds.

Case in point, I visited the idyllic town of Ojai with a friend recently. While we admired their copious public parks, clean public bathrooms, and shops filled with a vast selection of sensible shoes and flowing linen outfits for well-heeled ladies of a certain age, we also checked out their thrift stores. In one, I found a baking dish. I needed a new baking dish because I destroyed our Pyrex dish doing experiments for Making It. Yep, I warped a Pyrex. Didn’t think it was possible, did you?

This dish I spotted was oval–not ideal, but workable. It also turned out to be a Le Cruset pan. “Le Cruset?” I said to myself. “That there’s one of them classy brands I done seen down at the Sur le Table.” So I bought it for a few bucks and brought it home. Once home, I looked it up online. It’s actually an enameled cast iron “au gratin” dish. Who knew you needed a dedicated pan for cheesy potatoes? Market value? $150. 

Sure, I’d never pay so much for such a pan, and that’s a crazy price for a baking pan under any circumstances, so it’s sort of a hollow triumph–but still. I got me one helluva fancy pants pan.

Still need something to bake brownies in, though.

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29 Comments

  1. That pan is absolute gorgeousness. I am so jealous! I find the best place to score really smoking deals on good-quality cookware is yard sales, preferably after an older couple has passed away and their kids have no interest in real cooking. Sad but true. I haven’t had any real luck at my local thrift stores – maybe there’s not enough rich folks around here. I should probably drive over to CT or at least Newport and see what I can find there…. Great find!

  2. Ok. This is too funny! I was making a potato/leek/gruyere gratin last night and put it in a shallow Pyrex dish (cause that’s what I have a lot of) but the recipe said to put it in a Gratin dish. I thought “Hmmm, what is a Gratin dish?” So, I looked it up on Williams-Sonoma website and found the EXACT dish for $150! I thought “not even if I was uber-rich would I spend $150 on a baking dish” But now you’ll have to make a gratin in it and let us know if it makes any difference at all!

  3. When we lived in Santa Fe, NM we stopped going to yard sales and would only go to “moving sales”. The prices were better, more stuff, and they were more motivated to lower the price. But you are right, Santa Fe had lots of wealth and a transient population making for great sales.

  4. Thrift shops rock, it is a big deal for us and our four kids to go they love and we save. Heck of a find. No way would I spend 150 on a baking dish. Just makes the brownies taste that much better.

  5. Love scoring deals like that! And if it turns out you don’t like the pan, sell it on eBay, keep scouting for brownie pans and use the money for gardening. ;-)

  6. Very nice, I love it when that happens. Last year I found a vase while walking down the street. I brought it home and checked the label – Soul Studio – … it retails for $225. Who on earth buys these things???

  7. I used to work in a Goodwill on the newer part of town, and EVERYTHING at that store was better than any of the other stores in the region. All because the wealthy folks would stop by on their way to work or out of town and drop off goodies. Also, discount retailers. TJMAXX, we have a place called Cargo Largo(which is where I get a good portion of gardening supplies and a lot of organic dry goods) are good places to find a deal.

  8. Same problem here. It’s impossible to find “thrift” deals in NYC. Totally impossible. Vintage and Thrifts stores here are like retail price and sometimes more. LOL.

  9. Ooh lucky you. My friend scored three le cruset pans from a garage sale – worth hundreds of dollars. Yep, can’t understand the price though. We got one from my father in law when he died. He was the biggest scrooge with his money I’ve ever met so I wonder if the price was much cheaper in the 70s or whenever it was he got it? Anyway, they are good to cook in.

  10. Back in the mid 70s when hubby was in the Navy and stationed in Sicily we bought a set of Le Crueset pans – 3 skillets, 1 gratin pan, a 5 qt lidded pot, a 2 qt lidded pot and a 1 1/2 qt lidded handled pot – all for the “can we really afford this?” price of $70. I’ve used them almost daily for the past 35 years. They are still the best pans ever!! And great for increasing upper body strength – now in my mid 60s I really need it.

    And by the way – the gratin pan is the best for baking fish – always flaky and not dried out.

  11. I have a Le Cruset frying pan I bought in a similar way many years ago. It’s served me well for about 12 years now. So congratulations on your find! I’m sure it will serve you well.

  12. Christy spends half of her work day shopping in thrift stores for her theatre. While I usually have to talk her out of buying lamps and furniture she falls in love with, there is a standing order from me to buy any and every Le Crueset she finds. They’re so much fun to cook in and nearly fool proof! And yes, rich people tend to throw them out even though they only get better with age. Oh, the opportunities that this throw-away culture offers to the thrifty amongst it!

  13. What a score! I have that exact same pan – I bought it at the le Crueset outlet years and years ago. It’s a great baking dish and I use it a lot, not just for gratins. It’s just the right size for a couple of baked pork chops or like Bellen said, a roasted fish. It also stands up to the high temps of the broiler. And it’s the perfect size for a small crumble or cobbler.
    Be careful not to leave it soaking as it will rust eventually.

  14. Wooot! Great score! You’ll love it! I’ve even used mine to roast chicken.

    We have one of those and I DID pay retail, which just goes to show you that you don’t have to know how to cook to know how to be a gullible idiot at Sur La Table.

  15. Back in my crazy (and well paid) days I got a set of their cookware. All I have left now is one frying pan, all the rest went to people who could use it. I think I paid about $70 for the set at the China Barn. Live in a rich town also and am amazed at the great deals in the local thrifts. The ones run by the humane society and battered women’s shelter have higher prices as well as better quality vs goodwill. People are consciously giving to those shops. Goodwill gets the left overs from garage sales.

  16. I found a copper chafing dish at my local thrift store. I paid $10. When I got home and looked it up online, it retails for $150. Holy cow! What a find, right? We have a lot of thrift stores where I live and it’s fun to visit the different ones in different towns. One can definitely figure out where the “rich” people live by what’s available at the thrift stores :) .

  17. I have found some great buys at the Santee Swap Meet in, you guessed it, Santee (CA). It’s a real old fashioned type swap meet. A lot of people just selling the stuff they don’t want. And yes, if someone has died and the “kids” are cleaning out the kitchen, craft supplies, etc. those are the best scores.

  18. my wife and myself make a date night and hit three thrift stores about everyother week. In minnesota they have three catogorys of thrift store shoppers the Pickers ( the people that buy items to resell on ebay), the junkers ( the people that buy things that they need), and the Horders( you can not walk in there house or garage). We are junkers. When my daughter moved back home with our grandchild these little datenights really help our houshold out with things my family could use.

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