I visited one of my favourite thrift shops this week: the WIN thrift shop in Victoria. I’ve blogged about this shop before because I visit it every time I go to Victoria. If there was an awards show for Thrift Shops (is there? Does the world need this? Have I found the hole in the market?) WIN would win in a few different categories. (WIN, by the way, stands for Women in Need – supporting women in crisis).
Best Atmosphere – This shop doesn’t really feel like a thrift shop until you get to the very back of the shop where the furniture, books and vinyl, and household goods are. The clothing racks are beautifully laid out, not crammed full, clearly organized by size, category and colour and with enough space between racks for two people to pass each other with their shopping carts. So that’s your first impression but where they truly shine is in how they use their people and their value-added real estate: their people are friendly and helpful, greeting you at the door and making you feel welcome. What I mean by value-added real estate is their signage and their tags – their signs put a positive spin on what you’re used to
And they use their tags so well. I can’t believe how often stores overlook this tiny piece of real estate – look at what you’re learned here: you know why you’re being charged more for one and not the other (boutique items are unique and worth more), you’re learning that they care about the environment because it’s printed on 30% post-consumer recycled paper and you’re getting a positive, feel good message – all on that little slip of paper. So smart.
Best in Store – Leather pants photo above notwithstanding, it seems that either everyone in Victoria only wears and donates fairly high quality items or the folks at WIN are super picky about what they accept. Everything is clean, unwrinkled, unstained, and not missing buttons or zippers. For this reason, prices tend to land on the slightly more expensive side but there’s enough variety in their product that it doesn’t feel like you’re in a consignment shop. I picked up a few items, my cheapest item was $5 (a pair of MEC shorts) my most expensive item was $12.95 (a pair of Quicksilver shorts with the store tag still on them.) I saw a pair of TOMS in excellent condition for $24.95 – but given that they retail for over $50, that’s still a pretty good deal. I know that purists don’t want to pay double digits for anything in a thrift shop but I figure if it’s in good condition and I’m getting it for half (or way more) than what I’d pay for it retail, then I feel okay spending a little more because I know that I am supporting a charity.
I picked up a couple of pairs of shorts, a couple of t-shirts and this beautiful, raw silk scarf that just makes me happy. I think it would be perfect to wear to all the pride events going on over the summer!
Which thrift shop would you nominate for an award – and what award would it be?