As a young child without the burden of monetary woes to weigh me down, I never understood the thrift appeal. As I got older and began experiencing first-hand how little the dollar buys at most retail stores these days, I have come to appreciate and love thrifting. Initially, I began delving into the depths and many aisles at my local Value Villages and Salvation Army to find unique pieces that I might not find anywhere else, or would have to pay obscene amounts for otherwise. However, I soon realized how much thrifting could enhance not only your wardrobe, but also home décor etc. as you can find really awesome vintage things without paying a hefty price tag.
If you’re not much of a thrifter, you may find that many second-hand shops you visit aren’t necessarily low budget, which can be sort of a bummer if you’re thrifting solely to save. Although many vintage and antique shops may sell really rare and cool items, if they market themselves as a vintage/antique retailer, chances are, the prices are going to be jacked up significantly. With the revival of vintage style, it is important to realize you don’t always have to visit high-end thrift stores to achieve genuine looks from the era you’re aiming for.
Now, of course, there are always benefits to going to vintage shops that may sell higher end items. Usually, self-proclaimed vintage stores will tend to be more expensive, whereas a thrift store is meant for those on a budget. It may be easier to find what you’re looking for in a vintage store, as they are selective in what they sell and try to maintain a certain look or vibe. Because of this, you’ll most likely be paying a lot more than for example, at a Goodwill, where nothing is sorted through too thoroughly, and it’s up to the buyer to sift through copious amounts of inventory in hopes that they’ll come across something decent.
Personally, I visit both thrift stores and vintage stores, as there are obvious benefits to both. It’s very exhilarating and somewhat addictive when you find something really special for cheap at a thrift store, although with vintage shops, you’re almost always guaranteed to come across something desirable. I’ve managed to come across designer dresses, shoes and bags—all at Value Villages, Salvation Armies, Goodwills and various local thrift shops for under $20 each!
Thrifting in Toronto is great because of the population size and immense variety. This allows for better chances at amazing finds at a Value Village or Goodwill, and also gives you the opportunity to go to higher-end vintage stores like Nomad on Queen or Bungalow in Kensington Market. Speaking of Kensington Market and Queen Street, there, you’ll find numerous vintage stores and thrift markets. Despite most of them carrying heavy price tags, I have find a few odd ends here and there for a decent price, and some, like Black Market on Queen, can be very reasonably priced, while still providing a niche style (unlike the cluster of random things at Goodwills). Cabaret Vintage in Trinity Bellwoods is another pricy, but worthwhile visit. It houses a beautiful collection of vintage that has never disappointed me (although the numbers on the tags can be disheartening).
Even though a vintage shop may look and seem expensive, always give it a try because you never know what you might find. I’ve found that Queen and Dundas have by far the largest number of decent thrift stores around the city, and if those aren’t satisfactory, the closest Goodwill or Value Village is fail-proof!
By: Julia Ho