It hadn’t rained on us, but we had failed to see the sun shine on Thursday. Friday was starting out cool and overcast as well. April weather in Pennsylvania was unpredictable. The next time, I would wait for the summer Extravanza that takes place in June. Good or bad though, the weather wouldn’t be an issue today. During the night I had discovered that there are dozens of Goodwill stores in central and southeast Pennsylvania. We would spend our Friday in Pennsylvania doing a “Goodwill hunt.”
But first we had an 8 a.m. call in the dining room for a fabulous breakfast of egg and tomato quiche with hot sauce and assorted breads with jams. We sat with a couple from New Jersey who run an organic farming operation and we talked with our Smithton Inn hostess about all the tricks and trials of renovating a bed and breakfast.
When decorating a bed and breakfast I suppose people worry about the danger of overdoing things. The Adamstown/Amethyst Inn where we stayed the first night was so filled with beautiful things that one had to stop and take the time to really look around in order to see everything and yet the owners had done a good job keeping footpaths wide and clear. By comparison, the Smithton was no less beautiful but it didn’t fill me with a need to explore. Our room was called the “Chocolate Room” but there was nothing to emphasize the theme other than the brown color of the drapes and bedding. Being so close to Hershey, Pa., I probably would have included some Hershey memorabila. The rest of the Inn was also “minimalist” in nature, simple and elegant. I’m sure the owners are trying to keep the look clean and sophisticated and, as I said, it is a beautiful and well-run establishment. However, for an innkeeper there can be a benefit in “overdoing” things a bit. My daughter and I spent about the same amount of time at both places. Both were run by welcoming hosts, were conveniently located, and served equally delicious breakfasts. The cost was about the same. The Smithton has the benefit of having their own parking lot and easy access to both the front and back doors whereas at the Amethyst parking is in the street and you have a steep climb from the curb to the porch. The next time I visit the area though, I am more likely to book my room at the Adamstown/Amethyst Inn rather than the Smithton. Why? Because after leaving both beautiful places it was the Adamstown/Amethyst Inn that had so many garden flowers, antiques, and vignettes to look at that I went away feeling like I had “missed” something and I’d like more time there to explore.
With breakfast over and my notebook full of Goodwill store addresses in hand, we headed out for the day. The stores were scattered in all directions and it was difficult to know where to start. My daughter found an app called “Voyager” that plotted out the most efficient route. It started by leading us out across the farmlands of Amish country.
Most of the Goodwill stores we visited were clean and bright and fairly well organized. Nearly all had an odd system of organizing housewares. Housewares were organized by color. It made little sense. Sets containing various colors were often broken up. You might find a blue canister in the “blue aisle” and its matching pieces in the “red aisle” with another in the “green aisle.” If you were looking for a set of bowls you had to shop every aisle and hunt for them. It would make much more sense to organize all the bowls together, and all the vases together, and all the canister sets together.
We muddled our way through the odd organization however and found plenty of buys. I loaded the jeep with a pair of Dansko shoes in my size, a vintage tapestry clutch and a Laurel Burch tote both in like new condition, cookbooks, framed art, factory sealed jigsaw puzzles, a new and much needed toiletry bag with tags still attached, a crocheted table runner and matching placemats, vintage tupperware, and other things all purchased for a fraction of what they would cost new.
At one point we stumbled into an outlet center where people were sorting through long rows of giant bins. According to the sign overhead everything was sold by the pound. Sorting through bins was more work than we were willing to put in. I bought a covered pyrex casserole dish for 59 cents per pound and we went on our way.
We spent the night at a LaQuinta in Harrisburg and the next day continued our hunt. Due to arrive home that evening, we hit three Goodwill Stores in the Harrisburg area before turning to the north. We drove toward home, 6 hours away, stopping at every Goodwill store along the way. By 4 p.m. we had only reached State College, the bustling home of Penn State. It was one of our best Goodwill stops. I found a Coach handbag in like new condition and a beautiful cut glass bowl. With the back of the Jeep packed full and another four hours of driving ahead of us, we called it a day and headed for home anxious to unload our bargain treasures.