Thursday, September 2, 2010


Search the word “leftovers” on my blog and you’ll get ten hits. (Well, now you’ll get 11 if you count this post.) Two of those hits are for the kind of leftovers that you might eat or meaning something that is truly left-over. The other eight hits relate to the place Leftovers. If you are a regular reader of my blog (is there anyone? Anyone?!), then you know what Leftovers is. Yep!!! My favorite place!

I have grown tired of just mentioning Leftovers on my blog and linking to their website, so I finally decided to take Penny (my camera) on a field trip and document Leftovers so I can share it Penny-style with the blogworld. (I hope you’re all jumping for joy over this. And if you aren’t, humor me!) I promise I asked permission before I went around snapping all these photos!

leftovers_logoLet’s start from the beginning. Leftovers is a place nearby that has a bunch of junk for sale. My husband would run screaming from the building if he ever went, because it’s a place he would consider a nightmare due to the junk that’s inside. But for me, it’s a gold mine. Gold mine, I tell ya!

Leftovers is the place you go when you need some sort of random item. Teachers go there when they need 14 empty egg cartons for their students to complete a project. There are shelves full of yogurt containers and Pringles cans and broken pottery and empty Easter eggs and old magazines. It’s the place you go when you need a milk carton and don’t want to pour your perfectly good milk down the drain. It’s like recycling gone wild.

So, here’s what my typical visit to Leftovers is like. First, this photo shows the outside of Leftovers. It’s in an industrial area. It doesn’t look like a gold mine, does it?IMGP1021

Every time I visit, I bring a bag of items I saved from our recycling bin and I donate the items. Then I get a punch on my Leftovers card for every time I’ve donated. I sign in on a piece of paper (they keep track of how many people are donating). Then I grab an empty paper grocery bag from their stash, and I wander the aisles and find whatever random things I might need for a craft project or an educational tool for my kids.

IMGP1019 When you enter Leftovers, the first section you walk through is the Gift Shop. Sometimes, people donate things that are whole and re-sellable on their own. Things like vases or candle holders or even jewelry. These items get a price tag and then go into the Gift Shop for sale. Sometimes, some of the donated items are crafted into something new and then it’s resold. See those license plate dustpans in the bottom right corner of the above photo, right above my copyright watermark? That’s an example of something made and then resold. (I have so many license plates I got from Leftovers that I’m collecting to decorate Jackson’s room when he moves out of his crib and into a big boy bed!)

IMGP0993 The next section you enter is the Idea Zone. I didn’t take specific photos of that section out of respect for the artists and those who made items for the Idea Zone. It’s a place for ideas to get your creative juices flowing, not a place to go copying others’ ideas. But if you look at the above photo, you can see a sign hanging from the ceiling on the top left that marks the Idea Zone. The Idea Zone is just a place where there are typical Leftovers items used in new ways. There’s a tic-tac-toe game made out of a CD holder and milk jug lids. There are trivets and corkboards made out of wine bottle corks. And an octopus made out of a plastic soda bottle. You get the idea. Oh! There’s also a dollhouse made out of recycled parts. Look in the photo and it’s on the left side of the woman there – you can see it

You pass the Idea Zone on the left and walk into the area I think of as Office Supply Heaven.IMGP0996 This section has old teacher workbooks and paper clips and pens and crayons and empty envelopes and In/Out boxes and rolls of dot matrix printer labels. Oooo, it’s fun! Katie loves to write letters to people, and I could go broke buying envelopes for her. Luckily, Leftovers has plenty for me to select and take home to Katie.

Walk around the racks, and you enter the Flower Shop section of Leftovers.IMGP0997

There are artificial flowers and pinecones and sweet gum tree balls (you know, those spiky things) in this section. And you can’t see it in this photo, but behind the flower stand is a pile of carpet remnants and large wooden spools – like the kind you’d get from a roll of utility wire.

Behind the Flower Shop is the section called The Pantry.IMGP0999

This is where there are empty tins like cookie tins from Christmas or  giant popcorn tins. There are cans and peanut butter jars and baby food jars and milk jugs and coffee cans and yogurt tubs and laundry detergent scoops and EVEN church communion cups.

Beside the Pantry is my favorite section of all: the Craft Corner and Sewing Room. Where else can you find a box of doll heads?IMGP1007

Or how about a box of hair dye color samples?IMGP1011

This shelf is always fun: it has scraps of paper, a huge tub of puzzle pieces, and boxes full of embroidered patches.IMGP1010

However, this shelf in the Sewing Room section is, hands down, my favorite of all. It doesn’t look like much, but there are fabric scraps, ribbon scraps, and – best of all – fabric sample books on the bottom shelf. *Swoon!*IMGP1006

Here are some other highlights from Leftovers. Racks full of greeting cards and old copies of National Geographic.IMGP1012

How about a shelf full of foam trays – the kind you get your hamburger meat on at the grocery store? And a tub full of empty toilet paper tubes.IMGP1015

This section is always fun too. It’s a repository from holidays past: empty Valentine chocolate boxes, burned out Christmas light bulbs, glass Christmas ornaments, Easter eggs, Halloween trick-or-treat buckets, a bucket full of used candles, and a bucket full of straw hats (including a sombrero!).IMGP1005

The last stop on our little tour is a room I hardly visit because the sheer volume overwhelms me. It’s an entire room full of used books. I am not sure how much the books cost each, but I know they are pretty cheap.IMGP1018

When you are done shopping, you take your paper grocery bag to the cashier near the front door. Usually, the cashier is Norma. (She’s wearing a red shirt in this photo.)IMGP1003

Norma is always at Leftovers. She is so friendly and down-to-earth, and is a great resource when I need to brainstorm a project. She knows the inventory on the shelves, and also the items in the warehouse out back that haven’t been put on shelves yet. Bring your paper bag to Norma, and she’ll ask you to weigh it on a digital scale beside the cash register. The reason for this? I’m not 100% sure, but I think it’s because Leftovers gets grant funding depending on how much they keep out of landfills. Then you pay according to how much stuff you’re buying. If you fill just one paper bag to the top, it’s $7. If it’s less or more than that (even five bags full!), Norma adjusts the price accordingly. If you have filled a punch card from past donations, you get your $7 paper bag for half price. Woo hoo!

Another cool thing about Leftovers? They offer classes – dance and theater classes, home schooling classes, and classes for kids to earn Scout badges. (Katie’s troop has already been to Leftovers twice!)

Okay… so I feel like I could go on and on about how much I love Leftovers and all the treasures I’ve found there. How about I just finish up this blog post and hit the publish button? However, I reserve the right to continue writing about Leftovers and show you more of my favorites there.

Let me know if there are any projects or other items you’d like to see and I’d be happy to post about it!


JC's Loft said...

UM my mouth is wide open right now...why didn't I know of this store when I lived there! OMG I have never even heard of it before...funny post and thanks for sharing!

TinkDoll said...

First, "Hello Ms. Elizabeth!" I've been away for a while and am SOOOOOO glad to find you still here!!!

Second, I want a leftovers down here! LOL!

Great post. God bless...


Meg said...

Thank you so much for the sweet email and for letting me know about what's going on in my comment box. So glad you did!:-)

Have a great day and God bless!

Gina said...

Oh man, now I want to go even more! That is not what I expected it to look like! SO cool!

Michelle said...

That place is COOL.

And I love that your camera has a name. ;) Say hi to Penny for me.

Jan Post said...

Hey, that's a picture of me getting in/out of that silver blue car!!!! I LOVE Leftovers. I used to work there for 2-3 years, and now I have to go every 2-3 weeks to get a fix or I go into withdrawl.

You did a great job with pictures and descriptions. I'm sending a link of your blog to a friend out of state. I always stumble around trying to describe this place, and you've done it so well. Thanks for the help!

Missy said...

I just learned about Leftovers from our Parents as Teachers lady - I can't wait to go there!

joyfully2b4u said...

thanks for the walk-through tour! I've been wondering about the place since a friend told me about it--your "tour" gave me a lot of the info I needed =)

shellakers said...

Thank you SO MUCH for posting about Leftovers! My daughter is a new elementary school teacher and they have to buy so many of their own supplies. We both looked at your blog and read all about Leftovers and your in depth description of the place. We're both so excited to discover this place and can't wait to visit it!


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