Apparently it’s National Thrift Shop Day (who decides these things?). So to celebrate, I thought I’d share with you my top three favourite thrift shops. It was hard to decide because there are so many that I like to visit, so I thought I’d share one local to me in the Fraser Valley, one in Vancouver, one in Victoria and one overseas, in Scotland.
Second Story Treasures – 88th Avenue, Langley BC
This little gem of a shop supports the Langley Hospice Society. The shop is conveniently located on 88th Avenue (at 202) and is part of a strip mall so there’s ample parking. The attention to detail here is evident in the layout of the shop. The clothing section is very boutique-like with clothes hung by colour, size and type and with racks not over crowded. Shoes and household goods are displayed on standard racks but it doesn’t have a ‘garage sale’ feel at all. The furniture and books area is nicely laid out with room to walk around and a comfy chair to sit in as you consider how many books you’ll buy. The volunteers are cheerful and friendly. Things are reasonably priced and I’ve found some real treasures here – so the clever name of the shop is true!
Salvation Army 4th Avenue – Vancouver BC
There’s a few Sally Ann’s in Vancouver and I’ve visited a lot of them. I like quite a few of them but I landed on this one for a couple of reasons. It’s a nice size – not so big that you get tired walking through it and not so small that it doesn’t have enough stuff to make it worth your while. What I like most about it is its content: there’s always cool, funky stuff here and I think that’s because it’s in the heart of Kitsalano where the cool, funky people live and these are the ones who donate here! I’ve found unique shoes and clothes here, a great Pier One bowl that I use all the time, books and CDs and more. They have a great collectibles section too, for those who like that sort of thing. My only criticism is lack of parking but that’s Vancouver for ya. They have some limited parking at the back of the shop, if you’re lucky you’ll find a spot there. But if you can’t drive around til you find one, the shop is worth it.
WIN Thrift Store – Pandora Street – Victoria, BC
I visit Victoria about once a year and I always make a point of visiting the WIN shop. This place is special because it’s evident from the moment you walk in that this is a group effort and the group really took their time to think through some things to make your experience a good one. When you come in, a friendly volunteer asks if she can keep your bag behind the counter to make your shopping experience easier. At the dressing rooms, there are signs that put a positive slant on things like restrictions on how much you can take in the dressing room or on shoplifting. They recognize that their tags a communication tool and use them well. But what I like best is that the content – this is a carefully curated shop. You will pay slightly (but not a ton) more for their goods but everything is clean and of good quality. They have several shops in Victoria but the Pandora Street one is the largest with a big selection of clothing, shoes, household goods, books, records/CDs, and furniture. And it’s right in the heart of downtown Victoria so check it out and then head to Red Fish Blue Fish food truck for lunch!
Shoard Charity Shop, Island of Walsay, Shetland, Scotland
Okay. I’ve been in a ton of thrift shops in Scotland because Scotland has a ton of thrift shops (what can you expect from a country that invented frugal?) This thrift shops is the most northern thrift shop in the country and it’s hard to get to even at that but it’s totally worth it. It’s only open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 2-4 pm and you have to take a boat to get there (obviously). There’s very little else on the island – no restaurants, atms (so bring cash with you because it’s cash only) or other tourist attractions. There is a golf course that’s gorgeous, so you can fit that in around your 2 hour shopping window. The shop is housed in a converted school house. It’s large, bright and the volunteers are chatty and friendly. They have a large selection of items and they also sell locally hand-knitted items and preserves. All of it supports people living with disabilities. Check out my blog on it to see all the photos I took! It’s well worth a visit when you travel to Scotland – and you will travel to Scotland, right?
What’s your favourite thrift shop?