For those of us identifying as hipsters (or secret wanna-be hipsters), it means a lot to be able to say that Value Village is overpriced. In the city of “Newly Weds and Nearly Deads,” cheap—often grimy—thrift stores are in abundance. Almost impossible to find in bigger cities like Vancouver or Toronto, the prices here make the art of thrifting as practical as it is cool. Whether you’re short on cash or big on rummaging, here’s a guide to the best thrift stores I’ve discovered in town.
Beacon Hill Community Thrift Store
715 Pandora Avenue
Just like your favourite Pho restaurant, thrift stores are better dirtier. Despite being the smallest (and smelliest) of all the thrift shops I’ve ventured into, I always manage to find treasures here. Beacon Hill often has 50% off sales which means you can usually find purses for less than a toonie. I recently found a pair of embellished Levi’s 501 shorts for only $3.50! It’s easy to miss Beacon Hill CTS because of its meager size and lousy signage, but that just means there are more picks to look through for those of us who do manage to find it.
St. Vincent de Paul – Yates Thrift Store
833 Yates Street
St. Vincent de Paul has a bigger men’s section than most other local thrift shops. You can find t-shirts and baseball caps for around $1 each. Recently, I snagged a crocodile skin camera bag for only $3! Sure, it had a few loose threads here and there, but it also had multiple organizers inside, a feature you would never find today (unless you pay big bucks for an Anya Hindmarch purse). Usually advertising their sales on neon bristol board in the front window, St. Vincent on Yates is dirt cheap even without the 1/2 off Green Tags.
WIN Women In Need – Pandora Avenue Store
785 Pandora Avenue
WIN Pandora is the stores biggest location. Not only do they have the friendliest customer service of all the thrift shops I’ve visited, they also have great sales. Just the other day they had a spin-the-wheel initiative, and on Saturdays students get 25% off with their student ID. WIN carries a wide range of work-appropriate blouses for women and I’ve even heard of someone scoring an authentic mint condition Burberry trench coat from the women’s boutique section. Shopping here will also satisfy your conscience; WIN provides gift certificates to women who are residents, or outreach clients, of transition and second-stage housing.
1810 Store Street
Value Village is of course the biggest, but also most expensive of all, with prices almost as high as local vintage stores like The Patch or Flavour Upstairs. In the past, I’ve spotted men’s Salvatore Ferragamo dress shoes, as well as pristine women’s vintage snakeskin gold strap Calvin Klein sandals. Unfortunately, it seems as though Value Village has been over-picked due to a bad case of the Macklemore. Out of all the VV’s I’ve frequented though, this location is the most organized; not only are items sorted by size, they’re also sorted by colour. This store is especially great for shopping for themed parties or special occasions.
No matter which store you choose to frequent, there are some universal truths you should always keep in mind. Give yourself enough time to do a thorough rack comb. Bring your own bag to carry all your treasures home in. Skip the basics and go for unique items like over-sized coats, tees, anything made of denim, retro heels, real leather purses, books, and even analog film cameras that work like new. How’s that for a come up?
Tell us about the best thrift shop find you’ve scored below!