What started out for me as a budget-stretching necessity has blossomed into a full blown passion.
A wise woman in my life once told me that she could walk into a thrift store and run her hands across the racks to quickly find every cashmere sweater. While I am not that devoted, I do take pride in my ability to find practically new, fashion-forward clothes at a fraction of the full cost.
My shopping rule when I need something is to always check the thrift stores first. Not only can you find quality items at lower prices, you’re also taking a step toward more environmentally friendly capitalism. Every item that you cart home has been saved from the fate of ending in a landfill.
In Eugene, we are very fortunate to have a large number of thrift stores — both chains and smaller mom and pop boutique-style shops. It can be a bit overwhelming to decide where to start your adventure, especially if you are new to the area. Thankfully, I have spent countless lunch hours and weekends perusing the local thrift scene, and can shed some light on where to begin.
Goodwill and St. Vincent de Paul have several stores in Lane County, though no two are the same.
When looking for clothing in general, my go-tos are always the Goodwill on Seneca Avenue, and the St. Vinnie’s on W. 11th Avenue, both in Eugene. These locations typically have a plethora of options, and I almost never leave empty-handed. It’s worth noting that both piece out “star attractions,” and these racks often boast a slightly higher price tag, but are generally still a deal. Don’t skip out on the regular racks, either; some of my favorite dresses were found by carefully combing the color-organized standard merchandise racks.
In Springfield, the Goodwill and St. Vinnie’s locations on Main Street are a second favorite — full of amazing things with typically lower prices than their Eugene store counterparts. The Springfield locations, as well as the Goodwill on Green Acres, are the place to be if you are looking to furnish and decorate a home. The Green Acres’ Road Goodwill location is a must stop if you are a gamer — their selection of vintage and newer games is always next level, from the Gameboy classics to yesterday’s Playstation and Xbox hits.
If you’re looking for something niche, there are a few other Goodwill locations worth a visit as well. When in search of outerwear — down coats and Patagonia fleece, for example — it is well worth a trip to the coast. The Florence Goodwill is the mecca for outerwear in Lane County. It often has dozens of name brand options that always seem practically brand new. They also like their faux furs on the coast, which are not only warm and cozy but oh so perfect for a party.
There’s more to choose from than Goodwills and St. Vinnie’s.
In downtown Eugene, there’s the Assistance League Thrift Shop on Willamette. This little shop should not be missed, especially if you are looking for interview outfits or business casual wear. I often find a pair of shoes while there as well — its selection is small, but well curated, with great pricing.
When seeking vintage threads or something unique, always give The Clothes Horse on 5th Avenue a check. This small locally owned shop really packs in the options. I could spend a whole day rifling through the tight racks. It tends to be higher priced than some of your chain locations, but for good reason. You will find many high-end pieces here. On my last visit, I snagged a dusty pink vintage Swarovski crystal bracelet that has become one of my favorite thrift store scores of all time.
For formal wear, the Goodwill Boutique on Broadway is worth a stop. It stocks the high end and designer pieces that end up in the Goodwill donation bins.
Buffalo Exchange, located on 5th Avenue, can be worth a visit as well. It carries fashion forward items that are on point with current trends — with a sprinkling of vintage pieces. (One thing to note about Buffalo Exchange, though, as a formerly plus size woman, I never found them to be very size inclusive.) Plato’s Closet on Willamette can be hit or miss. It’s a large store that I frequent, because 50 percent of the time I am able to find some decent things. Plato’s Closet is also your best bet if you are interested in selling your own clothing, especially the brands found at the mall. But sell your designer clothing at the Clothes Horse.
Thrifting takes time and dedication. You’re not going to walk into any of these stores and find the perfect thing every time. But with tenacity and repeat visits, you can build a wardrobe or decorate an apartment for a fraction of the cost — and benefit the environment.