Thrift store trip nets treasure

Local man’s $5 buys Disney print worth much, much more

 

Thomas Glenn shows off his valuable find, an original print of a “Lady and the Tramp” poster dating to 1955.

Thomas Glenn shows off his valuable find, an original print of a “Lady and the Tramp” poster dating to 1955.

Clint Riese
News Editor

Thomas Glenn has no shame in admitting his love for “Lady and the Tramp.” The 33-year-old collects sports memorabilia and vintage toys, but also holds a soft spot in his heart for the 1955 Disney classic.

For what reason would a young man so eagerly discuss an animated film that chronicles the romance between a cocker spaniel and a mutt? Suffice it to say Glenn has tens of thousands of them.

The lifelong Forest Lake resident recently spent $5 on a poster for the film and has reason to believe it may be worth more than $30,000.

Meant to be

Flipping unwanted items for profit is old hat for Glenn, a trucker for a local company. An injury left him unable to work for a few years, and he kept himself occupied by scouring local thrift stores for lost treasures. He developed a knack for it, though he kept mostly to the areas he knew best: sports and toys.

“It eventually turned into like a part-time job,” he said. “Find bobbleheads, other memorabilia, stuff like that, turn it around and sell it.”

While shopping at the Forest Lake Goodwill a little more than two weeks ago, however, Glenn inexplicably branched out for the framed, yellow poster.

“It’s weird, it’s like something was drawing me towards it and pulled me over there because I don’t really deal with art or movie posters,” he said. “I can’t tell you why I grabbed it, but I did.”

Other than slight fading, Glenn found it to be in good condition. If nothing else, he figured, his 10-year-old daughter, Skylar, might like it.

This marking helped Glenn discover his poster's authenticity. (Photo by Clint Riese)

This marking helped Glenn discover his poster’s authenticity. (Photo by Clint Riese)

“It was $4.99; I figured I could take a risk,” he said. “For five bucks. I thought eventually it might be hanging in my daughter’s room.”

The former Twin Cities radio DJ searched his usual sources, eBay and Amazon, to see what price the piece had been fetching. To his surprise, no listings appeared. Excitedly he researched more, eventually coming across a post describing the print as “extremely rare.”

Then he found it. An online poster store had the same 22-by-28 inch print listed for $53,900.

“I was pretty shocked,” Glenn said. “A nice return on a $5 investment.”

He conducted more research to be sure that his print was an original. It checked out. A marking in the lower-left corner attested to its authenticity. He also learned an original in similar condition sold at auction for $33,000.

“I kept telling myself that this has got to be a reprint or a fake or eventually I’m going to find out this isn’t real,” Glenn said. “But it passed the test.”

News of the discovery attracted KMSP-TV. The day after the Fox channel told his tale, Glenn encountered a packed parking lot at Goodwill.

“The manager walks right over to me and says, ‘If there’s anything you ever need, you let me know,’” Glenn said. “He said they’ve never had so many people look at the posters and frame area.”

Letting go

Glenn’s lucky find came as he was scaling back on the bargain-hunting front. A Hinckley toy shop carrying many items owned by Glenn recently closed, leaving him sitting on boxes upon boxes of items to sell.

The only reason he went to Goodwill that fateful day was to return a 2003 G.I. Joe airplane he had mistaken for a vintage item. As he explained the mix-up to the cashier, he purchased the poster.

“I brought this up and said, ‘This, I can see, is original,’ and we were kind of laughing about it,’” Glenn said.

Now he is looking to part ways with that purchase, albeit for a very different reason. He has an auctioneer lined up in St. Paul and believes he can get a $20,000 reserve placed on the item.

Glenn already has plans for his potential profit. He has been testing the market for an invention, and he hopes to obtain a patent.

While he’s sure of the poster’s worth, he isn’t counting his chickens before they hatch, either.

“Until it’s actually sold it doesn’t feel like it’s real,” he said. “It’s great to have a $20,000 to $40,000 movie poster, but do you know anybody looking for one – know what I mean?”

 

  • Nick

    This story is, unfortunately, extremely inaccurate. The poster featured is not an original 1955 movie poster. It is also not worth anywhere near the value reported in the story. It is a mass produced poster printed in the 1980’s and worth about what this individual paid for it at Goodwill (less than $10.) The editor will hopefully correct the error.

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