3. A guzheng, or Chinese zither ($699).
This is the surprising find that started it all. Initially, this awesome fight scene from Kung Fu Hustle using one as a deadly weapon came to mind.
This wood-based instrument with something like twenty strings sat on top of a table directly next to the entrance of the Salvation Army Thrift Store (725 West Indian School Road; 602-788-9355) in a snug fitting case.
Almost every passerby stopped to oggle it.
A sign taped to the green felt on the interior of the case read, "Please Don't touch. Please Ask for Assistants," so we did. A store clerk mentioned that it had been in for more than two weeks, with plenty of lookers but no buyers yet.