Vintage Bracelet Makeover

Last Saturday I finally got to visit Chalice Thrift at the First Christian Church in Decatur. (Church nerd note: they’re Disciples of Christ, which is the cousin to my denomination, and they do really rad justice and service work with the proceeds from the thrift store.)

They’ve been closed the last 3 times I’ve been by, so I was thrilled to have a look inside.  Plus they had Danish butter cookies and lemonade for all, and Danish butter cookies are the way to my heart (especially the kind with crystallized sugar on top).

Victory is mine.

They also grow blackberries which made my child happy (well, that and the cookies. And their lovely clean bathroom they let her use):


Inside the shop was set up like a boutique, with different rooms for women’s, men’s, kids, housewares, books (a veritable library!), etc.:


I wanted to get back to park time* with my family, so I made a pretty quick sweep. (*Atlantans with small people should check out the Decatur Toy Park. Sponsored by this same church, it’s basically a fenced-in park filled with larger-sized toys, particularly wheeled ones, donated for all to use. There are also swings, small slides, and a mini free library, and it’s across the street from the thrift store. It’s also just down the block from Dancing Goats if your toddler woke you up earlier than nature intended and you need some coffee. Win-win.)

During my sweep, this vintage earring/bracelet combo immediately caught my eye:


I’ve long been a fan of vintage costume jewelry for the sheer chutzpah it brings to an outfit. My grandma had a lot of great pieces I’ve enjoyed wearing over the years, although I’ve scaled back from wearing complete earring/necklace matching sets in the same outfit.

So I wasn’t sure what I would do with this set, particularly since I prefer cuff bracelets to linked ones. But I couldn’t resist the palm frond motif or the golden color, halfway between taupe and caramel, that would go with so much of my wardrobe. It felt like a fresh, subtle take on the palm frond trend that’s been going strong the last year or two:

Mmm, that vintage patina…

I bought it without a plan and wondered if I’d basically just donated $4 to Chalice Thrift (not a bad thing, but I like to spend thrift money on things I’ll actually, you know, wear.)

Later that day it occurred to me that I could make this bracelet into a necklace by removing the clasp on one side and attaching chain to both ends.  A quick perusal of my miscellaneous jewelry-making bits confirmed that I didn’t have enough chain (or the right color) for what I had in mind.

So it was time for a trip to the Goodwill to hunt for parts. (We also took the opportunity to teach our daughter how to wisely spend her birthday money; $8 goes a long way in the kids’ section of a thrift store. I’m proud to say that after playing with a bunch of cheap toys she bought one book and kept the rest of her moolah for another day/charity donation.)

In the jewelry section I found this number:


(My friend pointed out that I could’ve gone to Michael’s and maybe spent less buying new chain, but I’d rather buy secondhand and experience the thrill of the hunt. Plus this was only $4 and I’m getting a lot of other beads/jewelry bits out of it, including some to make earrings for this same friend. Win-win again!)

Using jewelry pliers I took out the chain sections, including the short braided section (on the left middle in the photo above), and left the lobster claw clasp where it was.  I attached the braided chain to one side of the single chain, then took two of the necklace’s jump rings (small metal circles used to connect chain to beads/hang pendants) and used them to attach the chain pieces to the bars at either end of the former bracelet. You can see the jump rings and the braided chain section up close here:


I like how the braided part adds a little asymmetrical interest.

This shot gives a better sense of where the necklace falls – I can adjust the length from almost choker down to this “bib” size simply by attaching the lobster claw to any of the chain links:


Here’s another few shots of my new necklace in action from Instagram – when I make “new” jewelry I’m excited about, I tend to wear the heck out of it:

A post shared by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

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What do y’all think of my $8 vintage bracelet makeover?  Have you Atlantans ever visited Chalice Thrift?  Scroll down to comment!

A Goodwill Tour & Grand Opening – Decatur Store

Accidental double post this morning, y’all – check back tomorrow for that post updated with photos!

Oh my goodness, y’all.

A Goodwill Grand Opening is like Black Friday.  People wait outside in a line for hours and then the store is mobbed in a rush of craziness.  Polite craziness, no killing-each-other-over-TVs craziness.  But still craziness.

IMG_3601Every cart looked like this.

Never again.  Because the checkout line?  It took an hour to get through.  My legs hurt just thinking about it.




The part before the doors open was super cool.

I got to roam the newly stocked aisles all by myself, and dang if they weren’t gorgeous.  It was hard to look at some great finds and then walk away until it was time to shop.

IMG_3547 IMG_3545 IMG_3552It’s like an I Spy game.  Check out my Instagram feed (sidebar on the right) for more pics.

And I wasn’t super quick on the draw when it came to the doors opening (that was also tour time behind-the-scenes…), so I missed a few things I had my eyes on (like the hangers lower right above.  Sigh).  But if you can’t have a sense of humor about your luck and let others enjoy good finds, too, where’s the fun in it?


Re: lines snaking out into the parking lot, I asked Sidney, who was a lovely host and works in marketing at Goodwill of North Georgia, what the big deal was.  Turns out Goodwills (at least here in northern GA) like to put out their best stuff for grand openings, and they have weeks leading up to the big day to select the top tier items out of the backlog of donations they’ve received while the store was in the final stages of preparation.

So you get shelves that look like this:


(Special price shoe wall of my dreams:)


And racks that look like this:




And some really amazing finds, like a whole shoe section full of Vans from baby- to grown man-size:

IMG_3532 IMG_3533 IMG_3534 IMG_3535 IMG_3536
Yes those are all Vans.


An hour later, though, that shelf is going to look like this:


If you can’t stand rushed shopping situations, stay home.  But if you love the adrenaline of trying to nab the best deals alongside some stiff competition, get in there and enjoy yourself!

My advice if you want to get in on the grand opening goodies is to go in right when it opens and spend 15 minutes cruising, then hop right into the checkout line.  You can always come back and enjoy the ever-changing merchandise at your leisure.

Also, bring something to do in line (for me it was work email on my phone).  Or talk to other shoppers waiting their turn at the cash registers.  I met some great people that morning.


Pre Show

Various folks involved in making this Goodwill happen spoke before the tours and door opening, and despite the potential for such speech-making events to be dull, they were engaging and told a great story.

Did y’all know that Goodwill of North Georgia has 2.9 million donors every year, opens 3-5 new stores per year (that’s mind-blowing), has revenues in the millions and used that money to put 16,000 people to work last year?  Their goal for this year is to assist 20,000 folks with job training and placement and they’re on track to exceed that amount.  This location’s new career center will be a huge help towards in achieving that goal.

Diara shared his experience as a graduate of the career center program, vice president of the alumni program, and now a participant in GoodBiz, an entrepreneurship program he’s using to get his web development and marketing business off the ground.  He teared up talking about how his 9-year-old daughter sees herself as a content contributor now that he’s a small business owner and how it’s changed his whole family’s outlook.  (He also recently went to DC to talk with legislators about Goodwill’s work.  Awesome.)

The eminently tall Diara telling his story

Like I needed another reason to donate and shop…



Behind the Scenes

We got a tour of what lies behind those double swinging doors you commonly see in Goodwills.

Donations get dropped off here and immediately sorted for what’s usable/not:


Some things do get trashed but pretty much everything that can be sold, either on their floor or to salvagers/recyclers, is.  Here are bales of extra clothing that isn’t in good enough condition to be sold; they’ll go to a clothing recycler:


Usable items get sorted by store area and tagged with the color of the week, which helps the store track how long merchandise has been on the floor.  Typically, if an item is going to sell, it’ll do so within a month; items on the floor at the end of that time period get pulled for recycling.

Fun fact: to help with that rolling inventory concept, the color of the week changes on Sundays, so stop by that day or Monday to nab things that have just been marked down.


Detailed instructions for pricing and tagging items:


Then merchandise waits its turn to travel to the floor (which happens several times daily).


The smooshed angle of this shot gives you an idea of how crowded it was…

And then you buy it!


Store Review

As I mentioned, the shelves were lined with their best stuff, so I won’t know until my next visit (and believe me, there will be a next visit) how their selection shakes out.  But I was pleased with what I saw – Willi Smith, Loft, Gap, Talbots, Vans, Justin boots, etc. – and with the organization (by color). Nothing was crammed or in disarray.

The changing room doors have locks on the inside, which means they don’t automatically lock when you close them, hallelujah!  That’s one of the biggest frustrations of other area Goodwills with self-locking changing room doors – no one’s using the stalls but you can’t get in without tracking down a store associate.  (They also had a call button at the fitting rooms, though, so it’s possible the doors do get locked back up periodically.  You’ve been warned.)

The store is spacious and well-lit and the aisles are decently wide.  One downside is that the line to the cashiers runs parallel to about half the dress section (just like in the Piedmont store), which means it’s harder to get at those dresses if there’s a line.

Big bonus: oversized try-on mirror for all your quick over-the-clothes try-ons.  (This is also where the best thrifting camaraderie happens.)


Overall, it’s a great store and a great location.  This site used to be an eye-sore after an old K-Mart pulled out, but now the store, career center, and eventually Goodwill of North Georgia headquarters are bringing new life to the neighborhood.  Just seeing the re-done parking lot and newly planted trees put a smile on my face.  And I’m hopeful that the other stores in the existing shopping center will get a boost from this new anchor store.  (Shoutout to Madras Mantra if you love Indian food – very tasty vegetarian food.  Try the lunch buffet.)


Speaking of food…arguably the best part of the whole thing was the vegetarian breakfast frittata.  The catering was done by a Goodwill career center graduate… I’ll get her name from the gracious folks at Goodwill to share with all of y’all in the Atlanta area because it was That. Good.IMG_3590


Hope you enjoyed the tour.  Tune in on Thursday for my finds from this store!

Would you ever brave a grand opening like this, or do you prefer to wait a few days for things to settle down?  Scroll down to comment!