Not-So-Hidden Treasures

Marta Pena-Lane of My Sister's House Treasures
Marta Pena-Lane. Photo by Susan Yee.

Marta Pena-Lane wants you to know that the thrift store she manages is more like a boutique with a hint of museum. The vintage silk-screen prints, kimonos and bright bento boxes displayed around her seem to back her up.

“I’m very selective,” she says of her meticulous curating for My Sister’s House Treasures, a secondhand store specializing in Asian goods on a historically significant stretch of 10th Street in Sacramento’s Southside Park neighborhood.

The shop, which marked its one-year anniversary this September, has cut a unique swath in the local thrift-store market. An enterprise of My Sister’s House, a nonprofit that helps Asians and Asian Americans experiencing domestic violence. The idea for My Sister’s House Treasures came about several years ago, when rummage-sale fundraisers amassed heaps of donations. Board members decided to open a store focused on selling primarily Asian goods. “We wanted to be able to find a niche to make us different than other secondhand stores,” explains Yen Marshall, the nonprofit’s executive director.

my sister's house treasures interior
Photo by Susan Yee

But would there be enough donations for good inventory? “It’s been a year and we don’t have to worry about it at all,” says Pena-Lane, gesturing to brimming shelves and racks. Donations come from supporters, sometimes collectors and, at least once, a museum.

About half the items are vintage or antique. Some are as new as T-shirts advertising Sacramento’s Japantown, where the store is located along with Osaka-Ya, a Japanese confectionary, and Binchoyaki, a Japanese restaurant. The businesses provide walk-in traffic for each other, Pena-Lane says.

Customers, diverse in age and race, browse the store for items like a Rose Medallion teapot ($70) in characteristic pinks and greens, a Korean wooden altar ($100) that looks like a miniature buffet, a contemporary kimono ($12) or a Hawaiian shirt ($6). The most expensive item is a folding black-and-gold screen, room-divider size, offered at $1,700 price negotiable, Pena-Lane says.

thrift store finds
Photo by Susan Yee

There are plenty of tea sets and dishes at nominal prices. Japanese dolls with delicately painted faces and wall hangings with inlaid jade and stone would be hard to find at Goodwill.

Pena-Lane has educated herself on the value of donated items by searching the internet for comparisons so she knows what she can sell and what isn’t worth taking up space in the narrow store. “No rice cookers,” she says, laughing. She admits she did make an exception once for a new, boxed one. Just once.

my sister's house treasures thrift store
Photo by Susan Yee

My Sister’s House Treasures

2223 10th St.;
(916) 431-7941;