What started out for me as a budget necessity has turned into a passion in its own right.
A wise woman in my life once told me that she could walk into a thrift store and run her hands through the shelves to quickly find each cashmere sweater. While I’m not that dedicated, I pride myself on my ability to find virtually new, fashion-forward clothes at a fraction of the total cost.
My rule of buying when I need something is to always check thrift stores first. Not only can you find quality items at lower prices, but you are also taking a step towards more eco-friendly capitalism. Every item you take home has been saved from ending up in a landfill.
In Eugene we are fortunate to have a large number of thrift stores – both chains and little mom and pop style boutiques. It can be a bit difficult to decide where to start your adventure, especially if you are new to the area. Fortunately, I have spent countless lunch hours and weekends browsing the local thrift scene, and I can shed some light on where to start.
Good will and Saint Vincent de Paul have several stores in Lane County, although no two are alike.
When I shop for clothing in general, my favorites are always Goodwill on Seneca Avenue and St. Vinnie’s on W. 11th Avenue, both in Eugene. These places usually have a plethora of options, and I hardly ever go away empty-handed. It should be noted that both are “star attractions” and these carriers often have a slightly higher price tag, but are generally still a good deal. Don’t jump on regular shelves either; some of my favorite dresses were found by carefully painting the standard merchandise displays organized in color.
In Springfield, Goodwill and St. Vinnie’s stores on Main Street are a second favorite – full of amazing stuff with generally lower prices than their Eugene counterparts. The Springfield locations, along with the Goodwill on Green Acres, are the perfect place if you are looking to furnish and decorate a home. The Green Acres’ Road Goodwill location is a must stop if you’re a gamer – their selection of vintage and newer games is always on the next level, from Gameboy classics to yesterday’s Playstation and Xbox hits.
If you’re looking for something niche, there are a few other Goodwill locations that are also worth checking out. When you’re on the hunt for outerwear – Patagonia down and fleece coats, for example – it’s well worth a trip to the coast. The Florence Goodwill is the outerwear mecca in Lane County. It often offers dozens of branded options that always look pretty much new. They also love their faux fur coats, which are not only warm and cozy but so perfect for a party.
There are more choices than Goodwills and St. Vinnie’s.
In downtown Eugene, there is the Assistance League Thrift Store on Willamette. This little boutique is not to be missed, especially if you are looking for housekeeping or business casual wear. I often find a pair of shoes there too – their selection is small, but well-curated, with great prices.
When looking for vintage yarns or something unique, always give The clothing horse on 5th Avenue a check. This little local store is really full of options. I could spend a whole day rummaging through tight racks. It tends to be more expensive than some of your chain locations, but for good reason. You will find many high-end pieces there. On my last visit, I grabbed 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 Shop on Broadway is worth a visit. It stores high-end and designer pieces that end up in Goodwill donation bins.
Bison exchange, located on 5th Avenue, is also worth a visit. It offers cutting-edge items that match current trends – with a dash of vintage pieces. (One thing to note about the Buffalo Exchange, however, as a former plus-size woman, I never found them to be very inclusive.) Plato’s closet on Willamette can be random. It’s a department store that I frequent because 50% of the time I can find decent things. Plato’s Closet is also your best bet if you want to sell your own clothes, especially the brands found in the mall. But sell your designer clothes at Clothes Horse.
Saving money takes time and dedication. You’re not going to walk into one 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.