THRIFT STORE ADVENTURES
Cedar Crest, New Mexico
The first time I traveled to Cedar Crest, New Mexico, it was because I wanted to see Triangle Grocery.
The store appears in the episode of Better Call Saul where Chuck, the chronically disapproving older brother of the lead character, Jimmy McGill, decides he is going to face down his electricity allergy. Chuck’s belief in this allergy has led him to live an increasingly cloistered life. One where he seldom, if ever, leaves the house — and an element of his effort at recovery focuses on going to the grocery store so that he can resume a more normal life.
In real life, Triangle Grocery is not located in Albuquerque where the story takes place; it is located twenty-one miles east in the town of Cedar Crest, but the fact that stories focus more on the internal reality of the characters than the external reality of where the stories takes place did not stop me from being curious about Triangle Grocery, and so with the goal of seeing the real grocery store where Chuck had his scripted panic attack, my mother and I set out for Cedar Crest, New Mexico.
The Turquoise Trail
While Cedar Crest is east of Albuquerque, it is just north of the Village of Tijeras, placing it at the southern end of the Turquoise Trail, a strip of road that runs through 15,000 square miles in the heart of central New Mexico where the Pueblo people first mined the mineral for which the trail is named.
When I used my cellphone to get more information, Siri describes Cedar Crest like this:
Human settlement in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, United States of America.
Even a cursory visit reveals that there is a lot more to Cedar Crest than just being a “human settlement” or the place where one scene in an episode of Better Call Saul was filmed, and since my first foray to the small town with an outsized personality, I have been back several times to not only visit the grocery store, but to take in the sights and sounds of the post office, the coffee shop, and the banjo store, and some of the other businesses there.
Thrift store fever
I became a thrift store aficionado as the result of several cross continental moves I made in the early 1990s. For four consecutive summers my family and I found ourselves packing our lives into boxes and making our way from one side of the North American continent to the other. The shortest distance we moved in those years was the 2,178 miles and three time zones between Yspilanti, Michigan, and Walla Walla, Washington.
What I learned as I prepared for the second move was that it is easier to leave some things behind and replace them when you arrive at your new destination. Things that had sentimental value or were difficult to replace I kept, but things that were difficult or unwieldy to pack and easy to replace, I left behind, and that is how thrift stores came to be one of my favorite haunts.
You don’t just but a “thing” at a thrift store, you buy a thing with a history, and once you start using it, you become part of that history.
Hey Mavis! Thrift Store
Located on the right as you head north on the Turquoise Trail toward Triangle Grocery parking lot, Hey Mavis! caught my attention because of the name. Who, I wondered, was Mavis?
Before I even made it into the store, I found myself captivated by this dresser just to the right of the entrance:
Oh the stories this dresser could tell!
As I child, it would have not occurred to me to decorate a dresser with stickers, and as a parent, it never occurred to me to let a child decorate a dresser with stickers, but I found the sticker bedecked dresser incredibly charming, and while I suppose that it might make more sense to refurbish it completely to make it fit into whatever decor it might be made to fit into, my personal preference would be to add my own stickers to it, and contribute something of value to the narrative.
And the entire store was like that. There were quilts and crochet afghans and books and clocks and dishes and ceramic bell peppers and a very, very old radio:
No doubt that radio spent any number of evenings with people huddled around it listening to the news of the day or enjoying an entertainment. It’s even possible this radio was around when Orson Wells broadcast his infamous “War of the Worlds” episode of The Mercury Theater on the Air.
This radio, like each item in the store, had a history — a story to tell, but I was on my way to somewhere else, so I didn’t have time to explore them all.
In fact, I already in my car when I remembered why I had stopped at the store in the first place, and I went back in to see if I could find an answer to the question that had first brought me in.
I made my way back across the parking lot, past a bicycle and a foosball table and the dresser that had caught my fancy, and I went back into the store, and I asked the owner why the store was called “Hey Mavis!”
It turned out that Mavis had been her dog and had died shortly before the woman opened her store. Her husband had suggested that she name the store after her dog, so she did, and if you ever find yourself in Cedar Crest, you might just find something you need at the Hey Mavis! Thrift Store.