Priscilla Bailey spotted the blue-and-silver heart-shaped bauble among the used goods at the Plymouth Savers store. And she thought that it would look pretty displayed alongside her collection of other similar pieces.
She paid $2.99 for the item and, despite wondering what might be inside the glass heart, she took it home. “I thought about it for a minute when I first picked it up,” Bailey subsequently told CBS Boston. “I thought it was pretty, so maybe it was meant to come here.”
After Priscilla arrived home, the trinket caught the eye of her daughter, Kat Bartlett, who on closer inspection made a shocking discovery. Bartlett has a keen interest in ornamental glass and sells repurposed glassware online.
Her website Stay Glassy sells art made from glassware picked up at antique markets and thrift stores. Bartlett also offers customers the chance to book their very own glass garden party. These private workshops show people how to design their own glass art, while hosting a party with friends in their garden.
The business has a good following on social media and has garnered great reviews from many happy customers. So when her mom showed her what she’d bought at Savers, Bartlett immediately found the second-hand decoration to be of great interest.
When Bartlett examined the item, however, she spotted something very odd. She then advised her mom to hold the glass piece against the light to see what was inside. They inspected the heart up close and were left stunned at what they saw.
It shone a dazzling blue-silver color, with a metal lid secured tight to the top of the heart and a metal tassel hanging from the lowest point. As the light reflected through the glass, though, the heart revealed something that the two women hadn’t bargained for.
The pretty ornament contained what appeared to be ashes. Bailey realized that the item probably contained the remains of a loved relative or family pet. Speaking to The Boston Globe, Bartlett said, “My mom tried to give [the glass heart] to me and said, ‘Look what I found, I got it at Savers.’ I said to her, ‘It looks like its ashes, Mom.’ And she had put a flashlight up to it – and it’s ashes.”
The mother and daughter were shocked that something so precious had found its way onto the shelves of a thrift store, carrying a price tag of just $2.99. Moreover, they were determined to solve the mystery and return the urn to its rightful owner.
Bartlett subsequently turned to social media in a bid to help their quest and posted a plea on Facebook in January 2018, telling friends that she was desperate for it to go viral. Next to six photos of the glass heart, she wrote, “My mom bought this at Savers in Plymouth about 2 weeks ago. At first we thought it was very unique until we got it home and realized it is full of ashes!!!”
Expressing her sadness about the situation, Bartlett continued to encourage her Facebook buddies to help find the previous owner of the urn. “We want to return it to the rightful owner,” she posted. “It breaks my heart that this was tossed away and just sitting on a shelf at Savers for $2.”
Her story quickly caught people’s attention and as a result was shared over 3,000 times on social media. Bartlett told CNN, “I went throughout town here in Plymouth – through the ‘Plymouth Connection’ and ‘All Things Plymouth,’ and it’s spreading like crazy. So hopefully we find its owner.”
Her mom had been stunned to discover that her pretty new trinket contained ashes, but she nonetheless continued to display it in her kitchen. Bailey told CNN, “First, I got spooked for a second but then, it’s been in the house for all this time. [At least] a couple of weeks now.”
She soon recovered from the shock and decided to hang the mysterious urn above her sink. Bailey admitted that she was even prone to gazing at the object while washing the dishes. “Sometimes I stare at it,” she told CBS.
Bailey vowed to keep the trinket safe until it was claimed. “It’ll be fun seeing what happens,” she said. “And hopefully someone comes forward and say, yes that was my grandmother’s or my grandfather’s. Until then, it’s back above the sink. There it sits, my spooky little friend.”
The determined duo also returned to the Savers store in their quest to find the previous owner of the ornament. Staff there offered to dispose of the urn in a respectful way, but Bartlett declined the offer. She was committed to reuniting the glass heart with whoever might be missing it.
“It must have a story, so that’s my goal, is to find out that we’ve figured out where this and who it belongs to,” she told CBS. Confused about how the urn ended up in the used items section of a thrift store, Bartlett remained hopeful of a happy ending. “It was probably a mistake,” she said to The Boston Globe.
“I just know I don’t want one of my family members, whether it’s an animal or not, in Savers for $2,” she added. A spokesperson for the popular chain told WBZ that the items donated to its stores usually come from the local area, which suggested that the owner may live close by.
As the story spread through the media, it sparked mixed reactions from the general public. One The Boston Globe reader suggested that the situation was “over-hyped,” while another advised Bailey and Bartlett to “cast the ashes into a beautiful breeze.” The mystery remains unsolved.