An Open Confession of my Love for Thrift Stores

So, it’s snowing. Right now. It’s snowing. I am astonished.

This is the view from my window right now!

Anyway, that’s not what I was going to write about. What I wanted to say was this: I love thrift stores. I’m not going to hide it any more. Actually, I don’t know if I ever hid this.

If I had to come up with my top five favourite things about living here in the valley, the number of thrift stores would definitely be in that list. And not just thrift stores but good thrift stores. Thrift stores full of treasures. Thrift stores where things are actually cheaper than they would be new. Thrift stores that haven’t been picked over by hipsters.

When I was a kid, my family shopped at Value Village and MCC and other thrift stores. As a kid/teenager, that’s pretty much the height of embarrassment. At least it was for me. We had lots of new things too but we were not the wealthiest family and so thrift stores were frequently visited. Looking back, I don’t really know why I hated going to Value Village so much. Yes, there’s always that slight thrift store smell (you know what I’m talking about, right?) but you always wash your clothes first. My theory is that as a kid you define yourself by who else shops at the store you’re in. And at the Value Village on Fraser Street, those weren’t always the classiest of people. Living in Victoria, almost everybody I knew shopped at thrift stores and proclaimed it proudly. (This had the downside of making them more expensive). I didn’t know anyone who had brand new furniture. I was young and poor and paying for everything on my own and thrift stores made lots of sense. Plus, the older I get, the less I worry about defining myself by where I shop.

I get the sense that here in the valley thrift stores aren’t quite as cool as they were on the island. And I’m totally okay with that because it means they’re cheap and not too picked over. I love that they all seem to be run by elderly Mennonite women. I love that most of them are tax-free. I love the feeling of success I get when I find something awesome or just something I need.

These have been my favourite thrift store find in the valley so far.

Dressy shoes are awesome to find in thrift stores because they usually haven’t been worn much. And, if you’re like me, you won’t wear them much either so it’s not worth paying a hundred dollars for. Plus, I have very average-sized feet.

My most recent thrifting finds: a $5 cashmere sweater and a fifty cent scarf.

My home has benefited with new plates, a bright yellow vase, a crystal butter dish, and an extra baking sheet (making cookies with one baking sheet is a pain!)

I’ve also discovered that thrift stores are great places to look for cheap picture frames. I haven’t paid more than a dollar for one yet and I’ve been able to frame wedding photos and will be framing family photos once I get them printed.

I'm embarrassed that I took this picture of myself in my bathroom mirror but I love this scarf.

I could easily double the size of my scarf collection with trips to the thrift store. I like scarves. They keep my neck warm and they jazz up outfits!

In conclusion, thrift stores are great. If you visit Peter and I out here, we will take you to one. Probably MCC because it’s awesome and it doesn’t exist in Victoria. What have you guys find in thrift stores that you love?

Oh, and I took this picture Wednesday evening. The shot was Peter’s idea but I was the one who got my feet wet standing in a puddle. The sky was unbelievable that night.

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13 thoughts on “An Open Confession of my Love for Thrift Stores

  1. When I first moved out, I stocked my kitchen for about $100 at MCC in Abbotsford. And it’s good quality stuff!
    My most recent purchase of course was a matching set of 2 dressers and a nightstand, all real wood and painted white for $190 at the WIN store in Victoria.

  2. Looking forward to some thrifting next time we visit you! We also had great success at the WIN store the other day, I got an awesome yellow vintage polka dot dress that I’m quite excited about and Andrew had some good finds too. I think a lot of the fun is the thrill of finding something great (and cheap) after the effort it takes to look through the random stuff in a thrift store.

    • Is there a WIN store near you guys? I’ve only seen the ones in Victoria. There definitely is a big “thrill of the hunt” element to thrifting. I think that’s why it’s so satisfying. Yellow vintage polka dot dress sounds fun!

    • No WIN store here that I know of, we were in Victoria for a little holiday during reading break this week. Did some serious thrifting while we were there.

  3. Great post! My love of Thrift Stores began when I was fifteen.I was browsing around a Saltspring Island thrift store and I stumbled across a pair of (what I firmly believed at the time were) genuine Fendi heels– for $30. Those shoes made me feel so damn sophisticated! I tottered around in them for years (until they were too trashed to wear and I had to throw them out). Whether or not those shoes were “real” Fendi is besides the point, because that experience ignited my passion for thrift stores. Saturna Island has a “free store” (which is exactly like it sounds). Sometimes there are some real treasures there– last week I found a vintage leather shoulder bag and a record player (in perfect working order). Of course, in a community as small as Saturna, you always run the risk of someone recognizing their old sweater or dress!
    Anyways, love the blog. I hope you are happy in your new home.
    -Katie J.

    • Thanks Katie! Small communities tend to have some of the best thrift stores, in my experience. Sechelt has a “share shed” at the dump that sounds similar to your free store. Pete’s mom once found a first edition of The Silmarillion there.

  4. Yep, I found a really nice Bugatti bookbag/briefcase at the WIN store ($6). Good condition, but well-worn. But my score of the century, a navy sportcoat in beautiful soft wool from a well-known Italian tailor. Probably retailed at some point between $1000 – $2000, mine (in near-brand-new condition) for $16. Woo!

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