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ISSUE 118 VOL 9 PUBLISHED 11/19/2004

Thrifty, still nifty clothes

By Lisa Gulya
Staff Writer

Friday, November 19, 2004

Of course, this is only one form of second-hand shopping, the best example of which is found at St. Paul's Goodwill Outlet. Items are piled in bins and on tables. Whoever grabs first wins, though this is no excuse for bad manners.

Clothing, shoes and handbags included, is $1.29 per pound. This system is great for lighter fabrics, though heavier material such as denim can be more expensive.

First-timers might want to have some Purell on hand to use after they're done pawing through the piles. The disarray can make unearthing something great even more exciting, but the odds of finding both shoes in a pair are 50 percent. Also, the amount of merchandise available here varies wildly.

Unique Thrift Store features a more conventional thrift store layout with racks of clothing sorted by age, gender and type of apparel. Prices range from a few dollars up to about $20 for most items. This store is always packed, but the shelves are never bare.

For those shoppers more interested in decking out their rooms than their persons, Unique has a great supply of dorm room-worthy furniture, most for less than $15.

A quieter spot is the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Thrift Store in St. Paul. Its layout is much the same as Unique, although there is generally less bustle. DAV's best offers were scrub bottoms for less than $5 and large Ziploc bags of assorted jewelry for $6-7.

There are several St. Vincent de Paul thrift stores in the Twin Cities, including the location in Frogtown (St. Paul) at 511 Rice Street. These stores are generally smaller and consequently less stressful environments, but the choices are fewer.

If the idea of a thrift store chain unaffiliated with any sort of charity or church is appealing, check out Savers in Minneapolis or St. Paul: large selection, but impersonal.

These stores are geared more toward shoppers who enjoy the process, the discovery of something that has been overlooked, the bargain - "Guess how much this was?"

For those shoppers with less time and a little more income or pickier tastes, there are many other options. Tatters in Uptown (Minneapolis) is similar to Ragstock - new and used clothes, some crazy fishnet stockings and army fatigues.

These places have the retro clothes already picked out for shoppers; items are priced to reflect this. Tatters offers much more clothing for men than for women, but there is jewelry galore to compensate, next door at Theatre Antiques.

Theatre Antiques is a great place to spend time, but finding the cash to spend there is a bit tougher.

The store is filled with all those amazing home decorating innovations of the 1960s and 1970s ... the ingredients for the transformation of dorm room to pad. However, if one can manage to stay focused on apparel, there's a modest selection of very well-preserved clothes of the same era and amazing jewelry all around the store, though none of it comes cheaply.

What if paying for the shuttle to the Cities would drain the potential funds for the shopping adventure? Fear not, there are plenty of options in Northfield.

Division Street is dotted with antique stores that sometimes have fabulous costume jewelry or early twentieth century hats.

The Northfield Emporium has jewelry both for those who only have a few dollars to spend and for those who want to know exactly what the stone is in the ring they're buying. Fashion Fair, a new addition to downtown located next to Hogan Brothers, is worth a look.

As far as thrift store go, the Clothes Closet, associated with the Community Action Center, is a great choice. Proceeds go to area families in need, and every third Thursday of the month there is a bag sale - five dollars for all that fits in a paper bag.

Seemingly, there's a store for every shopper - whether one has the time to sift through rack upon rack, some extra cash to spend or a desire to support a good cause while shopping. Armed with a few bucks, some hand sanitizer and a good friend or two, there are treasures to be discovered and outfits to be made.

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