Even when I've just got a couple of bucks in my pocket (which is more often than not) I stop by my local thrift store. Today was a good score, but not atypical of results.
First, I picked up an old GI duffel bag, canvas, not nylon, with the single strap not the twin pack straps, for $2.99. Got a modern one in nylon, just like the photo above for the same price last week. (I gave that one to Pete).
Duffels are extremely useful for carting objects around and nobody takes much notice. I invite reader feedback on the largest, most unusual or most deadly thing they have ever concealed in a duffel bag.
Today, I also scored a copy of Pat Frank's Alas Babylon, the Perennial Classics trade paperback edition of 1999 for $.99. I'll end up finding a good home for that as well, probably with the teenage kid of a friend.
Finally, there are always those items that get mis-marked. Once, I picked up a PASGT K-Pot size small in the bike helmets for 1.99 because some new employee looked at it, saw "helmet," checked against the list and didn't know the difference. Today's bonanza is a pair of Japanese made Hurricane 7x35 binoculars. Given the individually focused eyepieces, the brown leather strap and leather case, I'd guess that they were made in the 50s or 60s. (Can't find an image on the web to correspond to these fine little glasses.) The markings say "Hurricane Coated Optics No. 56299 M" & "7x35 Field view at 1000YDS: 320FT" and on the front "Made in Japan."
The case was marked $.59! The binoculars were separate, unmarked. I took them up front and asked. "Well," said the manager, "the binoculars go with the case. Somebody mis-marked them, but today is your lucky day." So, I walked out of there with a set of fine, almost new tactical glasses for, tax and all, SIXTY-FIVE CENTS. So, I got a multi-use duffel bag, a great book and a set of excellent quality binoculars for a little over $5.00 including the tax.
If you're not checking out your local thrift store on a regular basis, you're missing the militia quartermaster's best bet.
LATER: I cleaned the binoculars' lenses and just tried them out in my neighborhood. They seem extremely crisp and clear, almost as good as my 1943 Navy 7x50 "night glasses." (And one heck of a lot smaller and lighter.) Looks like I can retire my Navy's.