Part of the appeal of thrift shopping is the thrill of the unknown. If you head to your local Kohl’s or Walmart, you’ll have a pretty good idea of the items you might see on display. But at secondhand stores, you never know what you may stumble upon. In fact, one woman had a unique experience at her local Goodwill, finding and purchasing what she called “a relic of the past.” Read on to find out what she identified, and why she decided she couldn’t leave it behind.
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In a TikTok video posted on Jan. 25, an ex-Goodwill employee named Jonathan shared a warning with thrift shoppers. In the clip, Jonathan explained his previous role as a drive-thru ambassador for Goodwill, where he would price donated items before putting them out on the floor. During this process, certain “valuable” items were set aside to be sold on Goodwill’s online platform instead of the brick-and-mortar stores, the TikToker said. In addition, he claimed that Goodwill employees have scanners that enable them to check barcodes on potential big-ticket items, namely rare books, video games, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs.
But while it’s disheartening to hear that you might not find anything too valuable when digging through the Goodwill racks, there’s still hope to find more sentimental treasures.
Kaylee Powell, a stained glass artist based in Arizona, shared a TikTok video about her recent trip to Goodwill, where she found a piece of her own artwork on the shelf. In the video, Powell explained that she made the heart-shaped mosaic piece for her high school boyfriend 10 years prior, and on the back, she had written him a love letter. The letter had been covered up with paint, prompting Powell to purchase her own artwork—which she said cost her $4.49—and take it home to uncover the message on the back.
Powell was able to scrape the paint off to reveal the two-part letter she’d written, which she admitted had her cringing when she reread it after all these years.
“I honestly cannot believe it’s only been a couple of weeks,” the writing on the back of the mosaic read. “The memories we’ve made, the mornings we’ve shared, and the love I’ve gained are priceless.”
“I am so beyond glad and thankful I can call you mine,” the letter said. “I hope we have a thousand more anniversaries after this. I hope that this is the end of my old life and the start of my new one.”
In the second part of the love letter, which was on the right side of the heart, 16-year-old Powell continued gushing. “I love you more than words can ever say and I hope that will never change,” she had written. “You are my beacon of salvation, the stars in my night sky, and my best friend. I love you.”
The TikTok video has over 8 million views, 1.7 million likes, and 7,800 comments. Several commenters were quick to express their “secondhand embarrassment” for Powell, while another joked that the letter was nicer than their own wedding vows. Others were particularly entertained by the fact that Powell had written this after being with her boyfriend for just a few weeks, as well as her referencing him as her “beacon of salvation.”
“I was cringing through the entire thing but the BEACON OF SALVATION TOOK ME OUT,” a TikToker wrote. Powell responded to some commentators, laughing along with them. In a pinned comment, she also confirmed that the relationship was relatively short-lived, lasting just three months.
“Reading this, I find the entire thing to be really cringey but also very funny, so it kind of balances out,” Powell said at the end of the video. “It’s nice to have a relic of the past. It’s a nice reminder of just how awful high school was but how much I love doing stained glass.”
Many also praised Powell’s artwork, but she confirmed in a separate video that she is no longer making mosaics like the one she made for her ex. Instead, Powell continues to produce art using different media. She did, however, “clean up” the old mosaic, stating in a recap video, “It’s really funny to have this piece back in my life again.”