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1363 N. Western Avenue
Lake Forest IL 60045


Forest & Found is a nonprofit community thrift store located in Lake Forest, IL that features good quality, second hand goods and produces a cycle of benefits for donors, shoppers and the causes the community invests in


Celebrating in March!

Diana Durkes

Yup, it's been two years since we opened our doors on a snowy, late winter day.

The shop in March 2014

The shop in March 2014

The shop today

The shop today

Since then we've raised $50,000 for two local organizations. We've made countless connections with people in the community and those far away - readers from Japan, China and the Netherlands follow us on our Facebook page. We've united something old with someone new a thousand times over. And we've recycled literally tons of stuff.

So, for our 2nd anniversary, we celebrated in two ways. First, we gave a party, and even we who did the work for it were amazed how fun it was! Second, we gave $1000 much-needed dollars to a school in Waukegan to help emphasize positive behavior.

Some photos from this busy month. Party pics:

And photos with Robert Silva, principal, and kids from Carman Buckner Elementary in Waukegan.



Can One Person Really, Truly Make a Difference?

Diana Durkes

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I started following Colin Beavan five years ago when an email from him popped up in my inbox about his book, No Impact Man.

Here was a man after my own heart, I remember thinking. Here was a person like me who worried about how our small daily habits behaved in their afterlife.

But while I worried about whether zip lock baggies were better or worse for the world, Beaven took action. He conducted a year-long experiment to come as close as possible to having zero impact on the environment.

Among his endeavors in no waste, Beaven used a personal Mason jar every morning at Starbucks. On the day he forgot it, the staff urged him to take a virgin paper cup as an exception just this once. Instead, he dug in the trash and washed out a used one. He stopped driving, then stopped using public transportation and only rode a bike. When he and his wife went off the grid completely by unplugging the fridge, with a new baby in their Manhattan apartment, he realized they'd gone too far.

Like Beaven, I often wonder if what level of change we can achieve on a personal scale. For example, if we all we brought in a personal cup to Starbucks for a day, would we see a measurable decrease in our trash? And what if we did the same experiment with soda cans and bottled water, how would that go?

Giving it a try is Northwestern University, which recently announced it would phase out the sale of bottled water on its Evanston campus. It's not that bottled water isn't a necessity in some global situations, but here on the north shore, the tap water is clean and good tasting, and the energy to recycle the bottles can be rerouted to something else. Another perk, tap water is free when you top off your personal bottle at a filling station, which Northwestern plans to install in more places. Go Cats.

Last week, I received a new email from Colin Beaven about being a small cog in the big wheel of change. He mentioned his readers sense of futility that their environmentally friendly habits were specks of sand to our giant issues. So Beaven offered the parable below, which is one of the reasons I follow him online. He's not preachy or finger pointing. He admits to being part of the problems and wants to find responsible solutions. And his book was really funny, I recommend it.

Here's the parable from Colin Beavan's email:

One day, a man went to the beach and saw that a storm had washed thousands of starfish onto the sand. They baked in the sun and began to die. The man wished he could help, but he became overwhelmed by the scale of the problem. How could he possibly save all these thousands of starfish?

Just then, a little girl arrived. She took in the devastating scene and walked toward the nearest dying starfish. She picked it up, carried it to the water, and dropped it in. Then she picked up the next nearest starfish, and the next, and the next. The man watched her for a moment, thinking about how trying to save all the starfish was futile.

Finally, he walked up to her. He said, “Little girl, there are thousands of starfish dying on this beach. You can’t possibly make a difference.”

She paused for a minute, looked confused, and then said, “Tell that to the one I just threw in the water.” She carried on with her work. After a moment, the man joined in. As the day progressed, more and more people arrived at the beach and, seeing what the little girl and the man were doing, they joined in, too. By the time the day was over, many hundreds of the starfish were saved.

We Are Natural Recyclers

Diana Durkes


When I was first married, my mother-in-law sometimes sent her cleaning lady to our apartment, which I tried hard not to take personally. One Saturday morning when the cleaner showed up with dust rag and mop, I was surprised to learn her family operated the town dump, a large mound of metal and tires near Grand Detour, IL.

Not ever community has a solid waste recycling center, but Lake Forest does, and I've noticed most people refer to it as the town dump, too. Stories about what's been tossed and found have drifted over the front counter at F&F, some of them bordering on urban legend.

I've heard about a glittering chandelier that just needed a little hosing off. And a set of outdoor furniture worthy of Veranda magazine.

There's the back-in-the-day story about a Bears rookie who staked out the dump between training sessions. He'd load up his car with stuff to send home and sell, a small hedge fund in case the football thing was short lived.

And the local guy who scavenged bits of this and that to build a part-time income by refurbishing household appliances he found at the dump.

Are these stories real? I often think the underlying theme in these anecdotes is our latent hunter-gather gene. That we're natural recyclers and have been so since the dawn of time (my daughter's favorite phrase to start an essay.) When we find ourselves in junk shops, thrift stores and yard sales, the scavenger tendency clicks on and our eyes start to scan for something useful or shiny. It's all part of the genetic program. Evidence: who doesn't like a good junk hunt, the thrill of finding a diamond in the rough?

Items that are not worthy of repair or recycling belong in the town dump. Useful and shiny stuff should enter the state of secondhand.

So here's my advertising message:

Before you contribute to the landfill or dump, consider giving furniture, lighting, golf clubs and other worthy items that you no longer want to Forest & Found. Not only are you recycling useful things, your donation benefits our two charities—Bernies’ Book Bank and A Safe Place. Call us if you have questions about what you can drop off at our thrift store at 1363 N. Western Avenue, Lake Forest. 847-482-1705.

What's Going on with the Basement

Diana Durkes

Every one who shopped our recent Basement Sale can attest  -  there's a lot of mysterious and interesting stuff to discover there.

The basement has been our storage space since we moved into our storefront on Western. Christmas, Halloween, 4th of July....they all wait in the wings for the appropriate season to move upstairs.

In less than a year's time, however, the overflow of merchandise all but overtook us recently, but it provided excellent motivation for our January Basement Sale. And it was fun! Customers told us they enjoyed the archeological dig. From our perspective, we lightened our inventory and raised funds for Bernie's Book Bank and A Safe Place.

This winning combination now has us brainstorming to keep the basement open permanently. We've applied for a Project Green grant to help with the cost of new lighting  - we'll find out if it's approved at the end of April. We're  also working to set up a permanent home for the high-quality kids' clothes and toys we receive.

Customers have requested we preserve the jumbled, big dig experience there.  "You never know what you're going to find," is a phrase we hear often. As we keep working on the basement evolution, we'll keep you posted on our progress. Stay tuned!



Open House at A Safe Place

Diana Durkes

Forest & Found supports A Safe Place with quarterly monetary donations, so when Denise Gentes, Individual Giving Specialist for this wonderful organization stopped in the shop to tell us about an open house at their Family Visitation Center, I marked my calendar and attended the two hour evening event. 

Along with a tour of the Center, the open house included an opportunity to hear from family court judges, court-appointed supervisors, and family law attorneys about the work that goes on here. This incredible, inviting facility provides an important social service in Lake County. It is a supervised location for court-ordered non-custodial parents to visit with their children.

I've driven by the Mundelein location many times, but I had no idea that Lake County’s only family visitation center was located there. When I entered the building, I was instantly struck by the warmth and caring nature of the people who work there.

Inside was a staff of professionals, volunteers and interns who are dedicated to making sure children have a safe visit. The Center is set up like a preschool classroom so there are lots of opportunities for parents to interact with their kids. The kids love the toys, the team reported.

After learning about the purpose and importance of the Center,  I left the open house feeling proud that Forest & Found supports A Safe Place.

Summing Up: A Month of Wearing the Same Dress

Diana Durkes

One month, one dress, 28 ways to wear it and four good reasons to do so (see our original blog post on Feb. 4). During the month of February, we joined in the Uniform Project, an experiment in dressing mindfully and creatively by wearing the same dress each day. The challenge was to change the daily look with different accessories, and of course, where the same dress every day.

Did it get tedious by the end of the month? Yes, it did. The February weather didn't help to encourage variety.  I wore jeans, tights and tall boots most of the month. Add a wool scarf, and that was a uniform everyone is familiar with.


Nevertheless, we had fun mixing it up with sweaters, jackets, belts, bags and jewelry. To wrap it all up, here's a Q&A with Michaele on her experience with the Uniform Project:

F&F: Reflecting on a month of wearing the same dress to work, what was the hardest part of doing so? 

Michaele: Actually, it was not hard. The project was a very fun challenge.  I chose a basic dress (that I liked) so that it was a fun game to figure out how to dress it down/up.  I always wore black tights and boots so that cut down on the guess work. I wore a uniform to school for 12 grades and never minded doing so.  A uniform is SET. 

F&F: People have asked this at the shop, so I'll throw it out to you - what did you do for dress maintenance?

Michaele: That's not for public consumption. Because of its style, my dress was never next to my skin. I always wore a blouse/turtleneck, etc. My dress was sleeveless, that's the reason I chose it, to accommodate that issue.

F&F: And, was the length of the dress you chose a liability?

Michaele: The length provided a nice line for whatever changed on top. I especially like the unexpected way it meshed with the "Brooklyn" sweatshirt I wore one day.

F&F: Pre-loved, gently used, vintage.....there are many ways to label them, but they all mean that thrift store clothing once hung in someone else's closet. Why do you like to shop for fashion at thrift stores?

Michaele: I would never say 'used',  rather 'repurposed'. I shop thrift for the price point and the variety.  I can best illustrate this with my summer dress analogy:
If I purchase 7 (any number) dresses at Forest & Found they each have a different look. Shopping at a resale store is like shopping at an enormous shopping mall. If I were to purchase 7 dresses @ JCrew they would all have a similar look. Repurposed clothing runs the gamut from reasonable to high end.

A Recap of Week Two of the Uniform Project

Diana Durkes

As I mentioned on our Facebook feed, if Week 2 was a competition, Michaele would be the winner with the colorful ensembles she put together.

That hat! It's a vintage number made of felted wool. You can't see it in this pic, but it features a long hat pin with a felted blue ball on the end.

So as the week went on, as someone who dresses pretty conservatively, I added some color and shape to my uniform dress.

                            Day 10: Missoni scarf and studded Ed Hardy belt.

                            Day 10: Missoni scarf and studded Ed Hardy belt.

                           Day 11: cashmere wrap sweater and a fun necklace by L.A. Cano.

                           Day 11: cashmere wrap sweater and a fun necklace by L.A. Cano.

                                                                            Day 12

                                                                         Day 12

Our accessories for Valentine's Day: a L.A.Cano gold necklace for me, and awww, a kid-made heart necklace for Michaele.

Michaele on V.D. in this great vintage Geoffrey Beene sweater.

Coming up this week we're in the deep freeze again, an opportunity to add more layers!

Recapping Week 1 of the Uniform Project

Diana Durkes

On the Forest & Found timeline, we've just completed Week 1 of our Uniform Project. If you've just tuned in, the project is an experiment to mindfully think about how and from where our clothing comes, and how we can effect a positive impact on the process.

Rules for the project are simple: wear the same dress everyday for a month. To combat monotony, change it up with different accessories daily.

For our basic uniform, Michaele chose to live in a TseSay cashmere sleeveless dress that could double as a jumper or look like a skirt when paired with a sweater on top. My tunic from Anthropologie is easy to wear with jeans and leggings, two items that are de rigueur for a winter commute.


By week's end, we got the hand of it by shopping the store's supply of accessories and our own.

Michaele added a Banana Republic cardigan with one of the shop's vintage pins and her own Chanel scarf.

I like the color combination of the tie with my dark grey dress. The necklace is one of an awesome selection at the shop right now.

Another view of my Saturday look which includes a pair of Betsey Johnson readers at the store.





Four Good Reasons You Should Try the Uniform Project With Us

Diana Durkes

The uniform project isn't a new concept, mind you. It' started in 2009 when this blogger challenged herself to wear one garment, one little black dress, for an entire year.

Sheena Matheiken launched the Uniform Project as an act of social consciousness and a fundraiser. As she reinvented the same dress daily, fashionistas followed along on her blog. The project grew to become a platform for responsible consumerism.

Fast forward to last November when morning tv host Karl Stefanovic wore the same blue Burberry knockoff suit for a year. By doing so, Stefanovic proved that the Uniform Project isn't an exclusively female-centric activity. On the other hand, he also demonstrated that an on-air man can wear the same suit every day and not elicit one comment. Not so for women on-air personalities, of course.

What's it like to wear the same garment for a week, a month, a year? In February at Forest & Found, we've decided to give it a try. Our reasons for doing this are related to the thousands of people who have taken the plunge before us:

To contemplate sustainable fashion. There are so many issues in the clothing industry: the working conditions in garment factories. How and where fabrics are produced. The total carbon footprint of one piece of clothing. How do we fit into the solutions?

For the creative challenge. It sounds monumental to reinvent the same outfit day after day, but Michaele Ann McDonnell and I are up for the challenge. We'll choose one dress from the stock at Forest & Found and wear it daily for the month of February. To change up our look, we'll shop our closets and the stock of belts, scarves and accessories at Forest & Found.

For inventive recycling, a business we should all be in. Many of you have gotten a jump on this by generously donating clothing and household items to Forest & Found. We've been the middleman to hundreds of new users and 15K in charity dollars.

Want to give it a try along with us? Perhaps you have a personal take on why it's worthwhile. Maybe this small act of reinvention is a warm-up act for a larger, life-changing one. Or maybe, like many of us in the new year, you vow to achieve the zen of minimalism for our fourth reason, because less is modern.

If you're interested in doing this along with us, or have participated in the Uniform Project in the past, do share! Drop us a line, send selfies, spill the details!

Then, beginning on February 1, follow along with Michaele and me. We'll be posting regular updates here on the blog as well as on our Facebook page.

Happy New Year!

Behind the Scenes of Our Next Event

Diana Durkes

North on Western Ave in Lake Forest, we love thinking up events that keep the idea of using existing product and design top of mind. Not that every day isn't an event at a thrift store, along with an archeological dig and a treasure hunt, too. But in addition to the routine whirl at Forest & Found, once a month or so we like to give extra emphasis to creativity and recycling.

Since opening in March, we've featured a local artisan who turns old beads into modern new pieces. We've showed the works of a furniture painter who brings out the soul in old castoffs. And an artist who takes old wallpaper and found frames and creates a nuance--but happily not a whole room--of old-world chintz.

This month, we're telling the story of a Chicago illustrator whose works came our way from the basement of a Lake Forest home.

"Can Forest & Found do something with this art?" the basement owner stopped in the store to ask one day. We sat down together on the green love seat (sold!) and scrolled through Maynard's portfolio. With each new picture, the word awesome kept escaping my lips, a totally overworked descriptor these days but you'll understand once you see the body of work.

When the owner left, we did some digging to learn that our Barbara Maynard was born in 1900 on a Michigan farm. On completing studies at the Art Institute, she moved into an apartment across from the Lincoln Park Zoo and worked as an illustrator for Compton's Encyclopedia. She had a few friends who were children's book author, and through them she illustrated some classic picture books in the 40's and 50's.

We'll be exhibiting Maynard's paintings on loan from her great niece, Helen Maynard, who lives in the Chicago area. We'll also have high quality prints on hand to sell and custom order. These are made possible by Rich Foss, who donated his skillful photography expertise. Thanks, Rich! We're also grateful to the Maynard family for permission to reproduce the works. The sale will be part of our fundraising efforts for the charities we support.

Forest & Found is a charitable thrift store that benefits a growing community of donors, shoppers and two beneficiaries – Bernie's Book Bank and A Safe Place.

Toasters & Everyday Items of Obsolescence

Diana Durkes

courtesy of Dave Gray flickr feed

courtesy of Dave Gray flickr feed

It's a small thing, but I really like my new toaster. Sitting on the kitchen counter, it's the Mies van der Rohe of appliances----sleek and spare, no button undefined in function. All this and a perfect slice of toast in the morning, God certainly is in the details.

But my new toaster begs the question: what to do with the old one? It only toasts on one side, so it wouldn't be neighborly to pass it on to someone else. Tossing it in the garbage, to commit its coils and plastic in landfill perpetuity, seems irresponsible, too.

My old toaster is in good company with many household items that were once useful but have been replaced by new technology. Some of them were the heart of the home, like the family phone book that sat near the phone in the hall. Then we moved on to the personal Palm Pilot, which is history, too. The stack of DVD's for family movie night is now in the Netflix Cloud.

From our purview at Forest & Found, we see trends in items that have gone the way of modern obsolescence. In a box of donations, we'll often find photo albums, even the beautiful leather bound ones. We see angel food cake pans, Jello molds and coffee sets that whisper of evenings spent entertaining at home. Good bye to Walkmans, computer programs on CD, digital cameras.

What to do with stuff nobody wants? In the secondhand market, we can't create a demand for the things we no longer need---like old VCR tapes or well-worn and stained clothing. But recyclers can. Industrial recyclers have built phenomenal businesses around taking the obsolete and turning it back into raw materials. Many of these recyclers are just a five-minute drive away.

To help you recycle, we have a list of local resources for household items that are hard to dispose of. For example, you can load up the car with your old printer and laptop and drop it at the Best Buy or Staples on Milwaukee Ave in Vernon Hills.

We encourage you to use our list of resources when cleaning out a desk, closet or garage. The list is a start – we're sure there are many more responsible places to recycle – but by using it, you'll save energy, time and gas. See our list of recycling resources at

Objects of Meaning: Things we hold close, things we let go

Diana Durkes

Guest post by T-Ann Pierce, who wears many hats so well as a mom to four, personal well being coach, writer, volunteer and friend

Recently, I was asked what I liked to do in my free time. I tend to hiccup slightly when asked this question because I would love to respond in a dignified manner, siting fine needlework or equestrian pursuits, but the truth is, I love rummaging through other people’s junk.

The attics of my childhood were usually slightly dangerous to reach and therefore forbidden. They called to me like a siren’s song. There were tidy attics filled with old prom dresses and mink stoles and chaotic attics filled with dusty crates and rusty farm tools, but every attic held a trove of stories and I loved getting lost in the treasures.

I’ve never outgrown the stories the old cast offs have to tell, though I no longer tiptoe through forbidden attics. These days, the thrill of the hunt takes me poking through thrift stores, old barns or vintage markets.

Even before we moved abroad some years ago, I would return from foreign trips with fantastic treasures found off the beaten path. I was happy to forgo a trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Ask me instead about the exquisitely monogrammed French linens I scored at a local French flea market. Filled to the gills with Guinness, in Dublin I unearthed a lantern that now hangs in my sunroom. An especially dodgy flea market in Rome produced an impeccably tailored, 100% cashmere coat. Copenhagen’s rummage sale yielded a delightfully folksy oil painting and in Greece, a ten ton chessboard.

Second only to my love of treasure hunting, is my devotion to purging my home of excess. We are a family of six. Without discipline, we would be living in what might resemble the set of Sanford and Sons. I purge. A lot. In fact, my husband is wholly certain if he were to sit long enough, he, too, would end up in a big black garbage bag awaiting the arrival of the Am Vets collection man.

Returning to the United States after living in England for over six years, I was forced to consolidate our lovely English home with an American storage unit crammed with long forgotten and outgrown stuff.

In a moment of unparalleled purging (and obvious mental strain), I donated a lifetime of stuff. I simply wanted to be free from the tether of ‘stuff’, free from the responsibility unwanted heirlooms placed on me, free to live with and use only what I loved.

Weeks later, I stumbled into a North Shore interiors shop only to discover many of my cast- offs, artfully arranged and adorned with shocking price tags. Instantly, I felt the sweaty palms of regret. Within minutes, however, I was reminded of how that stuff had weighted me like an anchor. I didn’t want it back. I left the shop flattered by the confirmation of my exquisite good taste (!) and happy in the knowledge that I gifted another treasure seeker with the thrill of the hunt.

And so it goes.

Hello from the Responsible Economy

Diana Durkes

In the big picture of conservation, we're all doing our part. We're minding how long we run the kitchen faucet....bringing our own shopping bags to the market.....ordering CSA boxes to eat local and support the nearby farmers. In mindful ways, we're connecting our household to the global mindset: diminish our waste til it all but disappears.

In the retail industry, we're seeing how the responsible economy is building traction. Take the Patagonia company's Reduce, Repair, Reuse service. It offers to find new owners for your used Patagonia gear when you no longer need it. Then there's Mud Jeans Global Recycled Standard. Mud Jeans wants to end waste by only using recyclable material and urging other garment manufacturers to do the same. Mud's upbeat video introduces us to the concept here.

We want to do our part, too. Think of Forest & Found as your neighborly resource for recycling cool stuff.  When you donate your no longer needed items, we'll make sure to highlight their best side and their usefulness. When you shop at Forest & Found, you'll find inspiration and creativity in extending the life of good goods.

To learn more about donating and shopping with us, please read our Donate guidelines and browse our Shop section for a taste of what we offer.