Woman Finds a Handmade Gift at a Thrift Store and Is Using Social Media to Return It

Thrifting was all fun and games for one woman until she stumbled across an actual board game that was all about one mysterious person's life.

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Oct. 20 2023, Published 10:56 a.m. ET

There's nothing quite like the thrill of the hunt, and I'm not referring to big game. Some of my most satisfying moments in life have come when I discovered a long buried treasure in an antique shop or thrift store. It's particularly gratifying to find something in a thrift store because they are often the last stop before a person simply chooses to throw something out.

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For the most part, you'll find things like clothing, furniture, houseware items, stuff for kids, or appliances. Occasionally you might stumble upon an item that seems so deeply personal and specific that you wonder how a person could have given it up. That's precisely what happened to Vivi who uploaded a video to TikTok about a handmade gift she came across at a thrift store. She's now trying to return it to its rightful place, and I am on board with this reverse Indiana Jones adventure.

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This handmade gift is very cool.

Vivi, who goes by @viviarmacost on TikTok, looked absolutely heartbroken in her TikTok about the handcrafted item she unearthed at a thrift store. Honestly, I would feel the same way. It's truly a walk down another human's memory lane.

The artifact in question is a personalized ceramic Monopoly board that swapped out the standard locations and utilities for important moments of the receiver's life. BRACHMANOPOLY is written in huge letters in the center of the board. Beneath it is a dedication that reads, "For Malcolm K. Brachman," followed by a date: Dec. 9, 1986.

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As Vivi pans across the board, we see snippets of Malcolm's life. It begins with his birth, on Dec. 9, 1926, to Etta and Sol in Forth Worth, Texas. A small house on Warner Road suggests that might be where Malcolm grew up.

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As a child he attended Lily B. Clayton Elementary School, which is still around and is also in Forth Worth. Evidently he graduated from Paschal High School in 1943 where he was an ROTC Commander.

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It goes on and on, moving through Malcolm's life. Some moments are significant career milestones while others are celebrating love and family. Like me and many people in the comments, Vivi was so moved by this she decided to try and return it to the Brachman family.

In a followup TikTok, Vivi shared what she learned after doing some research. Sadly, Malcolm passed away in January 2005 but he was survived by "his daughter Lisa, he is survived by another daughter, Lynn Gryll of Chicago; a son, Mac Brachman of Evanston, Ill.; and five grandchildren," per his obituary in The New York Times.

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As Vivi learned, Malcolm lived quite an extraordinary life. He is described as a "Texas businessman and onetime nuclear physicist who was among the first bridge enthusiasts to finance his own team." He died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 78 in his daughter Lisa's home in Chapel Hill, N.C.

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It took Malcolm only two years to earn a degree in physics from Yale. How does one top Yale? How about a doctorate from Harvard which led to a teaching position at Southern Methodist University. No need to guess what he taught. It was physics.

Apart from his family, which was undoubtedly his greatest accomplishment, Malcom was a prolific bridge player. He went on to "underwrite six-member teams that included bridge professionals like Paul Soloway and Eddie Kantar," and led them to eight national team championships where they secured wins every time.

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Mike Passell, Malcolm's longtime bridge partner, told The New York Times that Malcolm was the "first, shall we say, sponsor to win a world championship, and I think he opened people's eyes to the possibility." To put it in perspective, "It's like George Steinbrenner getting to play on the Yankees," said Mike.

Hopefully this is enough information to help Vivi on her quest to return the Monopoly board to the Brachmans. She asked for any and all help, requesting folks DM her via Instagram. We are rooting for this modern-day Brave Little Toaster style story!

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