I have found that there are few places that can stir my emotions and memories more than a resale store. Not the high-end antique stores, mind you, because the focus there is on rare and precious items that are highly valuable and desired. The resale store is primarily concerned with placing donated goods (castaways, usually) for sale at prices intended to move them along so that new arrivals may take their place on the (figurative) auction block. It is the place where the affection we had for the item or the symbolism it held for us is stripped away; it is now part of an orphanage with an uncertain future.
There is something a little disquieting about walking the crowded aisles…one never knows what will be found or the memories an unexpected object will provoke. Some of these items are vaguely recognizable…a bowl that is just like one that an uncle had in his kitchen; the appliance that was once part of your childhood home; or the same book that delighted me as a child. At once, I can feel both joy for having touched the lost item again and a profound melancholy for the people and places that had long ago slipped away.
The resale store brings me closer to memories and people in ways that no photo album ever could. Photo albums are collections of staged pictures and approved images that have been filtered through the lens of appropriateness. It is a sterilized melange of memories that, when viewed time after time, provokes the same warm feelings. The resale store also brings me memories and warm thoughts, but in unexpected and often jarring ways. Unlike the photo album, it is an uncontrolled journey through the past. As it often is in real life, things are revealed unannounced, unexpectedly. The wash of feelings and memories is to me a rich and genuine experience. I can sometimes come away with a purchase that has been retrieved from my past. For the little money it costs, the treasured memories it brings back into my life today is priceless.