At the Mall, Miffed? Try Thrift!

I went thrift store shopping on Saturday, and as I was shopping I realized that I know the St. Louis thrift scene like the back of my bony hand. Here are some of the hot spots of the city.

1. Goodwill Industries. You know Goodwill, they're everywhere- 2100 stores! Although technically not a non-profit, this store is a little more concerned with the bottom line than other thrift stores. Think billions of dollars. Their mission is to give jobs to people with problems. The one down the road from me has serious problems, and most of the time I don't even stop in because they have horrible lighting, worse t-shirts and I've never seen artwork that couldn't be done by an 8th grader. Notable finds: a Lite-Brite, a lamp, and a recliner... all overpriced. Check out their online auction site here.
Grade: D

2. Saint Vincent de Paul Society. This is the one where my parents' things go when they're put out to pasture. It's notable for a few reasons- it has 10 times more books than any of the other stores, and you'll find some amazing furniture. The con is that you won't necessarily be able to afford the stuff. On Saturday they had an entire set of office furniture (conference room table, chairs, artwork, desk, etc.), but it cost thousands total. Of course, it had already been sold. One thing is that the t-shirt, and clothing sections in particular, are lacking. In fact I almost couldn't FIND the shirts. Good if you're furnishing an apartment and have some dough.
Grade: B-

3. Salvation Army. Another national institution, if you go here and see some burly thugs outside, it's not because they are going to jump you, it's because they're there getting help. It is tied to the Catholic Church, so if you're really feeling up for it, you can drop money at the doorstep then go a block west and protest at Planned Parenthood. Otherwise, keep your eyes peeled for anything here- I've found suspenders, t shirts, pants, artwork, glasses, a camera, and even an entire living room furniture set here. The place is pretty well organized, and the main benefit is that they tend to have the nicest people working anytime you go. My favorite is this lady with an afro straight out of a 70s movie who likes to crack jokes about my sense of style. Hit this place first.
Grade: A

4. Unique Thrift. I hadn't heard about this one until about a year ago, when I found it mentioned in the Riverfront Times. This store does something better than any other one: they separate their clothes by size. In other words, you can swing by and check out all the clothes in your size in about 15-20 minutes. That's plenty of time left over to browse their impressive video game collection. Other stores have a Genesis game or two, but here you'll find a wide selection. It's in a Latin area of town, so if you plan on flirting at the register with a hottie, make sure you remember high school Spanish.
Grade: A+

5. Value Village. This one is a sentimental choice, for me. It was my first thrift store experience, and for awhile there, I would pick up 5 t-shirts a week. I even have a favorite from high school that I still wear. As it became more busy, the trick became searching the boys rack, as this store had a broad definition of "child." In recent years it's fallen off, mainly due to shopper competition due to word of mouth. The last times I've been in, I noticed that this store has been staked out by the Indian and Asian communities, giving it a nice local flavor. It's not uncommon to see things still in the same spot a month later, as they tend to specialize in sports-related XXL shirts.
Grade: C+

There are a few other thrift stores around.. I'd ask for suggestions, but any serious thrifter wouldn't divulge their bread and butter. And no, I don't consider vintage stores thrift. They smell too good.


Pancake Master said...

Which ones of the chains do you go to (Goodwill, Value Village)? I haven't thrifted in awhile but I know NoCo has a ton of awesome joints.

cassidy said...

haa yeah i am still looking into ways to get the smell of thrift out of my clothing...but big lesson learned! using hydrogen peroxide and a little stain remover can remover ANYTHING!! from blood to those pesky yellow pit stains. good thing is, the bottle is huge and only costs .89 cents--my family just finished a bottle that we've had since I was a child wearing Keds.

cookiewonton said...

The best place in Chattanooga used to be the Junior League Bargain Mart, but they've since closed. I once got an awesome pair of silver pumps for a quarter, and sweaters from the Girls Prep School and Chattanooga Golf & Country Club. BTW, the Salvation Army has the best beef stew in the world (or maybe we were just that hungry).

Drew said...

r0b- unique thrift, up north, is where i hang my hat usually.. i haven't been to value village in a long time, and i avoid goodwill like the plague. salvation army down on forest park usually has some things that peak my interest, if you call it a chain.

cassidy- i think they do that to de-lice/bedbug the clothes. thank god, it's a good trade-off. i could probably use a bottle of parker family magic potion haha

cookiewonton- why do the good stores always close? shoes and sweaters are always nice. this time i was thrifting in flip flops, and didnt want to try on a bunch of shoes barefoot. it's a shame too, i wanted some black loafers. and thanks for the tip about beef stew!