Saints and Salvation

The Ottawa River in January – stinkin’ cold by West Coast standards but so beautiful and clear!

My sisters-in-law love to thrift as much as I do so we always manage to take in a couple of thrift shops when we’re together in Ottawa and always score some gems.

St. Vincent. He just looks like a kind person, doesn’t he?

We visited the St. Vincent de Paul shop on Wellington Street. St. Vincent de Paul thrift shops are part of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which was founded in 1830 in Paris by Frederic Ozanam, a lawyer, author and professor at the Sorbonne, as a way to help the poor. The society took St. Vincent de Paul as its patron saint, known for his work with the poor, his compassion, generosity and humility. They have thrift shops in North America, Australia and New Zealand and do work in Europe as well.

great boutique section

I really like the layout of this shop. It has a real boutique feel to it with clothing that is well curated. They’ve got some amazing, high-end pieces – furs, designer labels, one-off custom-made pieces – offered at very reasonable prices.

if you have to wear fur, then second hand is the way to go.

They had a great selection of clothing, housewares and shoes. Not much furniture but what was there was quality vintage. My only complaint of the whole place was the lack of organization in the book department. As a book lover, I appreciate it when books are not only sorted by genre but also when they’re sorted alphabetically by author. Really, how hard is that?

I found this fantastic beret, fine wool, made in Italy. I’ve been looking for a black beret for a while now. I love the classic look of this hat and one of the bonuses that I had not appreciated until wearing this one while in Ottawa was that you can wear it for a long time and it doesn’t leave you with hat hair.

Also a great piece to travel with because it lies completely flat when you’re not wearing it – it’s easy to tuck in to a pocket or a bag without adding any bulk. This one cost me $9, which was a little on the pricey side but I think it’s because it was in their boutique section.

As our holiday to North Carolina and Ottawa came to a close, my hubby and I decided we needed another bag to help us get our treasures home.

who knew that Jeep made bags?

We visited one of the many Salvation Army thrift shops in Ottawa and found this fantastic gym bag made by Jeep.

Main body has lots of room, end pockets for smaller items, and daisy chain mesh on the front pocket to attach extras as needed. It was beautifully clean and almost like new – it cost us $4.99. Score! It really was nice to have the extra bag to bring things home in too.

What’s you favourite charity shop?


Posted in second hand, thrift, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping, thrift shops, travel | Tagged , , , , ,

Ottawa Mission Thrift

This is my amazing sister-in-law Kim, who is a genius thrift shopper and also a fantastic volunteer – so great with people!

I had the privilege recently of volunteering with my sister-in-law, Kim, at the Mission Thrift Shop in Ottawa. I also realized something while I was here: this thrift shop is exactly the same as the one I just blogged about that is in Langley and what is now known as Mission Thrift Shop used to be called Bibles for Missions – they are rebranding! (A good idea, methinks. The former name could be misconstrued as being a place that sells Bibles for the purpose of funding missions, the new name is much more descriptive.)

blue tags on clearance!

I like this shop. It’s a nice size – neither too big nor too small (although much smaller than the one in Langley.) The sorting areas are well laid out and clearly marked and there’s a good work flow established. The shop itself is also well laid out and has a great selection of product.

nice, big fitting rooms with enough hooks to hang things on

The volunteers are friendly and cheerful. I got to take part in their devotional and prayer time and observed the way they seem to be a family – having volunteered at a thrift shop in the past, I can attest to how quickly this can happen and how lovely it is to be part of a supportive and friendly group of people.

great boutique section

My job for the day was to cull all the blue tagged clothing from throughout the shop and rehang them in the clearance area. It gave me a great opportunity to see what they carry. I noticed a really good selection of quality brands in the women’s section (Talbots, Land’s End, Cleo’s, Northern Reflections, American Eagle, for example.)

three, great quality shirts

Because I was traveling and had to be mindful of the fact that I also had to carry stuff home, I held back on the shopping but I still managed to pick up a few gems. I found these three quality tops (Talbots, Croft & Barrow, and Chaps) and each one is like new.

love it when i find things with the store tags still on them!

but my big find was this made-in -Australia, Woolerina merino wool vest, with the $148 store tag still on it.

it says “men’s” but it fits me perfectly.

They were asking $40 but Kim bought it with her volunteer discount – so I got everything for $40. I love merino wool – it’s thin and light weight, really warm, not itchy. This vest will be fantastic for traveling because it packs so thin.

We visited a few other shops in town – so check back to see what else I found! In the meantime, tell me what you think about the rebranding of Bibles for Missions into Mission Thrift Shops.

Posted in clothing, second hand, thrift, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping, thrift shops | Tagged , , , , ,

Mission Thrift Store in Langley

The Mission Thrift Store in Langley is on Logan Avenue in Langley, right across the street from Value Village

There’s some great thrifting in Langley, BC. I’ve blogged in the past about Penny Pinchers and Second Story Treasures. My last post was about my great find at evil Value Village in Langley. And now, I’ve recently discovered another gem: the Mission Thrift Store.

This is a large, beautifully laid out and artfully decorated shop. They’ve got someone with some true creative muscles (and a Pinterest account, clearly) doing the displays for this shop. Check out some of these details:

The shop has a great selection of clothing, a decent sized book section, and a large furniture section. Things are reasonably priced, volunteers are friendly and helpful.

I picked up two little gems while here.

I love the detail on this top – it’s not too Christmassy to wear all season long

This Northern Reflections seasonal-themed top was just two bucks. I look for Northern Reflections branded clothes in thrift shops because their older clothing is actually good quality.

lovely detail

I’ve noticed that they’ve gone to inferior fabrics for a lot of their new clothing – especially t-shirts/tops. If I can hold it up to the light and see through it, I’m not interested (I’m just so over that, you know? )

Love the cover art on these old novels.

I also found a Trixie Beldon book that I don’t yet own. I used to collect these as a child and have several of them but they’re harder to find than Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys. Trixie ignited a deep desire within me to own a horse; a problem for my parents, given that we lived in an apartment in Vancouver at the time. She also began a passion for mystery novels that has never died. I got this one for $2.

The Mission Thrift Store supports BFM Canada (which I assume stands for Bibles for Missions but none of their materials OR their websites actually spells this out. These people need me.) The mission supports Bible-based literacy programs and supports the persecuted church world-wide. They are active in 40 countries around the world.

This shop is worth your next trip to Langley. Are you aware of other great thrifting in this area? Let me know – I’m always on the hunt for a new thrifting experience!


Posted in books, christmas, clothing, second hand, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping, thrift shops | Tagged , , , , , ,

Caught in a (Bare)Trap!

my faithful tall boots that really need replacing. they’re not leather, but they’re made in Canada, which is a bonus.

I’ve been looking for new-to-me winter boots for months now. I have a pair of well-loved boots that I got from my sister over 4 years ago. She got them at a thrift shop and had worn them for a while already, so who knows how old they really are.

I demand a lot from my boots. Because I walk home from work (about a half hour), I need my boots to be comfortable and to support my feet properly so I’m looking for boots with little or no heel and really good tread. I need them to be water-proof – I live on the We(s)t Coast, after all. And because I’m too lazy to pack extra shoes to wear at work, I need them to be fashionable too – something I can wear with a skirt or tights and not look like I’m about to climb a mountain.

I also need them to be inexpensive – not because I can’t afford $300 boots but because I just cannot imagine spending $300 on a pair of boots. In a way that’s a little weird because I know that you get what you pay for. I’ve learned, the hard way, that often inexpensive means cheap. And I’ve told myself that with something like boots, I would be making an investment. Just look at how long my sister and I have worn the boots that she found at a thrift shop. If I spent $300 on boots and wore them for 10 years, which I surely would, that would average out to $30 a year for boots. Not a lot of money when you think of it that way.


aren’t they pretty?

So a couple of weeks ago, my sister and I visited Evil Value Village in Langley. My faithful readers will know that I dis VV all the time but one thing that they have over most shops is sheer volume. Their stores are so huge that you’re almost always going to find what you’re looking for. But having visited the VV in Abbotsford numerous times over the last several months and not finding anything, I decided to try my luck at the Langley one. And wouldn’t you know it, I was successful!

Stay Dry System seems to be working so far and look at the great tread!

After trying on about a dozen boots, I found these Bare Trap leather short boots and I love them. They’re lined with faux fur, they have a great tread and they are one of the Bare Trap boots with their patented Stay Dry System (meaning they’re water proof). I like how they look with a skirt or tights and I’ve worn them with jeans or dress pants as well. They’re very warm and support my feet beautifully. They’ve even held up to the freezing rain and slush we’ve had for the last two days.

I looked up this style of boot on the Bare Trap website and they typically run $99 USD. I got these for $11.75 CDN. I know, right?

What have you been seeking for ages?



Posted in boots, second hand, thrift, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping, thrift shops | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Giving with Intention

Tis the season to be giving and so we are treated to articles in our newspapers about gift ideas or cool things that people are doing to make other people’s lives better at this time of year. And then, I came across this: the Vancouver Sun recently had an article that suggested that storing up gifts all year to give away may be cheapening the entire concept of giving gifts.

Well, I’ve been called cheap before but always in the nicest way. This just made me shake my head.

The article quotes Professor Judy Zaichkowsky (from SFU, my own alma mater no less) and Thyra Uth Thomsen (from Denmark) whose research into gift giving implies that if you are stocking items with no one in particular in mind, then you are somehow demeaning the spirit of gift-giving because your potential gift is not intended for someone specific.

People who “receive gifts which they suspect are from storage may perceive a lack of caring and even feel insulted,” they wrote.

My question is: why would they suspect that your gift is coming from a storage closet filled with gifts? What the research assumes is that I am not only purchasing thoughtlessly but I am giving thoughtlessly as well.

the classic screwdriver

So if I find a Philips Screwdriver on sale somewhere and think “this would make a great gift for a handy-man or someone who is moving into their first home” but do not have a specific person in mind, I’m somehow screwing the spirit of gift-giving. (see what I did there?)

That would be true if I gave that screwdriver to my mom for her 80th birthday. If I did that, she might correctly suspect that I gave absolutely no forethought to her birthday gift but just reached into the abyss of my Gift Stockpile Closet and grabbed the first thing I saw, wrapped it and gave it to her.

But if I give that screwdriver to, say, my son when he moves out on his own for the last time (see what I also did there?) as part of a starter toolbox – that would be a damn good gift. Buying it on sale, just means I saved money AND time.


Maybe I need to do my PhD on living a thrifted lifestyle. Or on the absence of common sense in the world. Or people who have too much time on their hands and manage to get paid to write nonsense (even if they do go to my alma mater and even if their writing partner lives in a happy place like Denmark.)

So how about you? Do you have a stash of gifts that you’ve purchased throughout the year just in case you need to give something to someone? Have you ever felt bad or insulted by a gift?

Posted in christmas, gifts | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

All Dressed Up and Places to Go!

Guess whose hat?

I’ve had two excuses to get into costume in the last month and neither of those were Halloween. I have mixed feelings about costume parties. On one hand, I love them because it’s fun to get dressed up as something weird and it’s fun to see how a theme brings out the creativity in others. On the other hand, I hate the idea of spending money on something I’ll never wear again – it’s that frugal gene in me, I guess. So naturally, I turned to my favourite thrift shops in order to get what I was looking for.

Mary and Bert – and a spoonful of sugar!

The first costume need was for a Fairy Tale themed costume party hosted by our friends who do a themed costume party every year. We stretched the traditional idea of fairy tale a bit and went as Mary Poppins and Bert, the Chimney Sweep.

Here’s what it cost:

My skirt and blouse – $4 from Life’s Second Chance Thrift Shop in Abbotsford

My bowler hat – $7 from Evil Value Village (at Halloween)

Belt – $1.50 from Bibles for Missions in Abbotsford

Umbrella, carpet bag, spoon-full-of-sugar – owned or borrowed

John’s vest – $4 from Bibles for Missions in Abbotsford

Pipe cleaner for the Chimney sweeper – $2 from Michael’s ( i think…)

Hat, pants, shirt, shoes, mop handle – owned or borrowed

Pretty good right? We were pretty pleased with ourselves and I may even wear the skirt again – it’s 100% wool and fully lined.

the top hat is the best part

The second costume need was for my church’s Christmas banquet. I was part of a 4-piece band called Bob Cratchit and the Bookkeepers (I know, right?) and we styled our costumes after the Muppet Christmas Carol characters.

My shirt – $4 from Evil Value Village

My vest – $5 from SOS Thrift Shop in Steveston

My pants – $4 from Life’s Second Chance in Abbotsford

My hat – $10 from Evil Value Village (also at Halloween)

Jacket, pocket watch, ascot – owned or borrowed

Three of the four band members. All the top hats form Evil Value Village, most of the clothing rented, thrifted or borrowed.

Isn’t it fun? I also got top hats for all the gents in the band and glued holly to them. They all wore their own clothes or borrowed items, except for the tall bass player whose mom rented tails for him! I won’t wear the shirt again (it’s a man’s shirt and way too big for me), I already wear the pants to work all the time, they’re so comfortable. The vest is actually kinda fun and honestly, if the right opportunity arises, I’d wear that top hat again in a heartbeat, I love it so much.

not a great pic of me but it shows you the full effect, with the jacket.

Tell me how you feel about costume parties – yes or no?

Posted in costumes, second hand, thrift, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Roots for the Win

Son says to me: Ma, next time you’re in a thrift shop, see if you can find me a new messenger bag, mine is starting to fall apart inside.

Mission accepted. Same week, I head to the MCC Plaza in Clearbrook and find this beauty.

The hand-grip handle had come off and the interior lining had a rip in it. I used a safety pin to pin the handle back on from the inside and then reinforced that with hand-stitching, then hand-stitched the hole in the lining. Good as new.

New Roots canvas messenger bags run about $50, this cost me all of $3.50. Son was pleased – that’s a double win.

Posted in handbags, second hand, thrift, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping, thrift shops | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment