Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Thrifty Acres - The MSU Surplus Store

Hello! While in East Lansing yesterday morning I checked out Michigan State University's Surplus Store.

As with most surplus stores, there was a wide variety of (mostly) secondhand goods for sale. For instance, food service items. I saw silver-plated (or at least they looked silver-plated) tea pots. The individual serving-size ones were cute, but for some reason they seemed to be missing parts of their handles. 

There was a stack of heavy bread pans, all covered with a thick layer of greasy film. I'm sure there's a good way to get those pans looking like new again, but I don't need any bread pans, so I declined.

There were older plates for sale, all with the MSU logo on them; nice quality. But the surplus store was asking nice prices for them. No thanks; I'd be likely to break them and then would be annoyed at myself.  

Instead, I got this:

This may look like a serving platter, but it's actually smaller than a dinner plate and thus is meant for individual servings. Since I'm now eating less food at each meal, I figure a smaller plate would help remind me to serve myself less food at a time. 50 cents (and unbreakable). 

In the category of office supplies, I found these at 75c apiece:

I suppose that at one time, these stamps were used on official paperwork to note students who may have been on academic probation (and if they got off probation, then they'd be in good standing).  But I joked to my husband that I could use these stamps for when he's in the doghouse with me: "PROBATION". And when he redeems himself, he'll get a paper stamped "GOOD STANDING". 

But in reality, I'll use these to add whimsy to a collage piece. 

There were a lot of books for sale - vintage ones priced accordingly, but there were also carts and carts of books at thrift store prices. Since this is a university surplus store, you might think that aging textbooks would be offered, and I did see some of those. But more books were of the non-textbook variety. 

For 50c each, I got several late 1950's-era pamphlet cookbooks:

For making sweet treats. 

And in case you wondered how to mail Tollhouse cookies (the original chocolate chip cookie recipe), here's how you do it:

I can't imagine chocolate chip cookies being around long enough to need freshening, but there you have it. (nowadays I'd just use the microwave for a few seconds). Love the illustration! Cookbooks from this era often have such cute drawings. 

Some more cookbook pamphlets, all from Good Housekeeping:

I got these because when I was growing up my parents had a whole set of these and I loved looking at them - again, those fun illustrations, plus a lot of recipes and some mouth-watering color photography in each cookbook as well. 

I don't recall that these were ever used often by my family, though, other than a couple of cake recipes, a gumdrop cookie recipe and a recipe for a pizza-like entree made with a hamburger crust. The first time my family had that was when yours truly searched through the hamburger and hot dog cookbook in this set. As the oldest at home before dinnertime one day, (I would have been around 15 or 16) I had to make dinner for my large family, using ground beef for the main course. 

I was looking for a new way to use that ground beef, and spotted Pizza Hamburger Pie in the chapter on oven main dishes. It was easy to make and quite savory too, which pleased my demanding taste buds (according to my mom, I seemed to have been born with a taste for well-seasoned foods). But everyone else liked it as well, so I was proud of myself for giving the family a change of pace from our usual fare.

At some point, my mom didn't want these cookbooks anymore, so I took several of the ones that were around in her kitchen (probably another sibling took the others). I picked up the four above since they had been among the missing from my parents' set. But I still am lacking nine out of the 20 that were published. (They're readily available on eBay, but not at 50c per volume!)

If I had wished, I also could have bought lab equipment, office furniture, clothing racks, pieces of carpeting and more. I almost bought an old rake - it only cost a dollar, and from its design looked to be old. But I passed on all these. 

However, I did buy one new item:

Vermicompost, direct from MSU's student organic farm. According to the label, this product can be diluted in water at a 1:10 ratio for fertilization. I was happy to support the students'  farm endeavor - and hope that my garden will be happy as well!

There was a steady stream of customers during my visit yesterday, perhaps in part because Tuesday is normally one of only two days the surplus store is open (Friday is the other, with the remaining days of the workweek available for public viewing of the merchandise.) A retired art professor told me he loves coming to the surplus store to see if he can pick up anything to use in art projects, and I heard one man enthusiastically tell another man about some contraption he was building; presumably he was at the store to look for parts on the cheap. 

The next aisle over, two college students were looking over some chairs and a woman pointed at a mini refrigerator for a store employee to take up to the counter for her. 

Something for everyone there, it seemed. And if you'd like to see if the MSU Surplus Store has something for you, go to their website HERE for more information. 

It's a great way to go green! (go white!)



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