The Change For Charity Thrift Store


Everybody loves oddball thrift store finds, and you can find some of the oddest at the Change For Charity Thrift Store in Laguna Alta.


Run by hipster emeritus Misty Cotheran, age 54, Change For Charity is linked to several philanthropic organizations in San Cipriano and Citron County. It’s a fairly spacious retail unit (formerly a proto-supermarket called Food For Families that was open 1948-1961) in which a visitor can find inflatable palm trees, old Halloween costumes, numerous copies of the same paperback books found in every other American used book and thrift store, plastic anatomy skeletons and half-heads, feather boas and giant martini glasses, wigs like hair helmets, VHS tapes and video discs, roadside shaving cream signs with verses of poetry on them, grandma-style sofas still covered in clear vinyl drop cloths, wired telephones shaped like pink poodles, rain lamps and cuckoo clocks, sex toys still in their original packaging, battered fiberglass skis and snowboards, fake Hummel figurines, disco jumpsuits and heavy wool trenchcoats, egg chairs, fully decorated Christmas trees all year round, glow-in-the-dark neckties, striped barbershop poles, albums full of turn-of-the-century family photos, half-broken toys, fondue sets shaped like polar bears, board games, rolls of shag carpet, and so much more.


Misty and her couple of employee-friends maintain the place reasonably well and do their best to keep the atmosphere funky, casual, friendly and ironically amused. There’s always a scent of sandalwood incense in the air to cover the faint odors of mildew and dust (and occasionally, oddly enough, sulfur and smoke) and the music that plays in the background for visitors (on an antiquated hi-fi system with sound-triggered lights in its bulky old-fashioned speakers) is often remarked to seem to provide a wordless and sarcastic commentary on patrons’ conversations in the store.


Misty herself is easily identified for her cats-eye glasses, big sparkly glitter goat-pentagram necklace, bubbly personality and love of ‘60s go-go boots. She’s at the store a lot of the time, sometimes just kicking back and reading or polishing old brass lamps while customers browse and pet the two Change For Charity cats (Amy and Fur-Fur) that laze around the store and leave black fur on everything.


There was a more than bohemian ruckus several years ago when Slayers targeted Change For Charity because they thought it was linked to some kind of weird and monstrous nighttime activity. It’s said the Slayers were trying to bring an end to what they called “Skull Servitors”—horrible Zombie-like entities created through evil magick from people whose flesh was burned from their heads, leaving only a charred black crust around the neck and skull bones. The Slayers said it had something to do with demons, or Djinni, or something to that effect. There are even strange claims that Misty herself was their main target on the raid, and that she was simply fortunate enough to have been drinking a cold, minty Grasshopper at the bar down the street (Nelson’s All-Niter) when the armed maniacs attacked her store. The surviving Slayers who weren’t killed by police and unknown assailants are now serving life sentences in maximum security facilities.


Despite the trauma of that awful night, Misty Cotheran is fully recovered and always glad to welcome anyone who comes to Change For Charity. If you ask for her by name, she says she’s absolutely positive she can help you find anything you could possibly need at the thrift store, and the price you pay will definitely be worth it.


For charity, you know.