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Woman Buys Thrift Store Q-Tips for 50 Cents. Opens Box to $1,800 Jewelry Hidden Inside

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Q-tips are kind of like bobby pins and hair ties. They get everywhere and scatter all over the place — until you actually need one, and then they tend to vanish.

They come in ridiculous amounts, too. What in the world could you need 500 of them for? And yet, at the same time, you know at least half of them are going to disappear without ever being used.

One woman in Duncan, British Columbia, recently got more than she bargained for. She was shopping at a thrift store when she noticed a pack of swabs for fifty cents.

She had a window that needed cleaning, so she snapped them up. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure — but that was even more true in Loretta Simms’ case.

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After nabbing the box, paying the miniscule fee, and returning home, Simms decided to get to work on her dirty windows and opened the box.

She found far more than a few cotton-padded sticks. Hidden inside the container of unassuming swabs was an entire jewelry collection — all of it authentic.

There were eight rings and a pearl necklace. The rings were set with rubies, diamonds, and emeralds. There was even a diamond engagement ring nestled in the collection.

“They say you can’t find good finds at a thrift shop and I say, ‘Hey, I sure did,'” the surprised woman said.

In all, the collection was appraised at $1,800 — that’s quite a return on investment! However, Simms’ conscience would not let her keep her find.

The fact that the store was the Cowichan Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Store played some role in that decision. Simms knew in her heart that the right thing to do would be to return the set.

“I just felt it wasn’t for me,” said Simms. “Meant for me to find and bring back, but not for me.”

The workers were stunned when she showed them what she’d discovered. The shop director was especially surprised.

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“I just took it for granted that they were Q-tips and put them out on the shelf,” she said. The revelation was personal, too, since she’s the one who’d given the box of swabs their price tag.

Eventually, a story came out of the finding. It was discovered that the man who’d donated the Q-tips had found them among his sister’s possessions.

She had passed away, and he was tasked with parceling out her belongings. He’d donated the jewelry to the shop, and somehow it had gotten jumbled.

Fortunately for the store and the patients it helps, Simms knew the value of honesty. She also specifically mentioned that she hoped that the set would bring in more money for the good cause.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking