Happy summer solstice, friends! A few days ago, I stopped by the Central Valley’s Mad Monk store and had a blast on my little vintage shopping excursion! I first came across Mad Monk when I lived in south Berkeley, which actually had Mad Monk, Rasputin, and Anastasia Vintage as separate storefronts — all mere blocks away from my airy studio apartment by the campus. (Had being the operative word here…I think Mad Monk actually shut down in Berkeley.) The Central Valley store combines all three, so it’s a dream if you love your vintage books, movies, CDs, and clothes in one place. And a dream it was. I’d also say it was a curse for my wallet for dramatic effect, but I left paying $10 for an armful of DVDs and books.
I first spotted Mad Monk while visiting Goodwill with my dad during a previous thrifting trip in Modesto — it’s about a mile down from the Vintage Commons strip mall on Sisk Road. The hours are a bit odd, as the store is only open Thursday to Saturday 11 AM to 7:30 PM and Sunday 12 PM to 6:30 PM. But if you ever find yourself in Modesto on these days, it’s SO worth the visit.
While my love for consignment and thrift stores first started when I was a student at Berkeley, I now have the disposable income for splurging. Despite my deep-seated desire to live more minimally, I am such a sucker for books and DVDs, even if I really only finish things I find through libraries or streaming services. Actually, part of my rationale in hitting up thrift stores is to find the faves that I pick up through the library and streaming for my permanent collection.
Since I live in a somewhat small town in the Valley, trips to Modesto always feel like trips to a big, proper city, even if it’s, well, Modesto. Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting much from my visit, but I was pleasantly proven wrong! This Mad Monk store is GARGANTUAN, and two hours in, I barely got through a third of the space. By my estimate, it’s roughly the size of a Target, but half of the store is clothes, an eighth is books, and three-eighths is CDs and DVDs. There were a few exceptions, of course, but most used hardbacks were $2, paperbacks $1, DVDs $1, Blu-Rays $1, CDs $1, and clothes $2. The friends of the library blowout prices (IYKYK) were too good to resist, and I really wish I had more time to explore!
One tiny qualm I had was that most areas were a free-for-all without much organization beyond broad genres (except for CDs and some DVDs/Blu-Rays, which were sorted alphabetically), but I didn’t mind wandering around the store. It was rad to see such a broad range of people meandering the premises, from elder millennial dads in metal band tees and cargo jorts to immaculately lip-glossed teens in trendy puffy sleeved crop tops. Art…it brings people together!
The ambiance was honestly just my speed — bustling but not too crowded or loud, with plenty of room for browsing. And what better way to capture the spirit of rural suburban angst than with Phoebe Bridgers and Rihanna softly strumming in the background while you sift through DVDs from the early aughts?
My haul included:
- Will and Grace Season 1
- Pan’s Labyrinth
- The Mummy & The Mummy Returns
- Rin Tin Tin by Susan Orlean
- The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup by Susan Orlean
- Runaway by Alice Munro
- Daddy Was a Number Runner by Louise Merriwether
- & more!
I honestly can’t wait for my next trip — I had such a great time living out (reliving?) my vintage hipster millennial fever dream here, and hopefully, I’ll have more time to look around. What a lovely little gem in the Valley.