Put character into your look with a trip to the thrift store

astewart@newsobserver.comJuly 17, 2013 

  • Where to shop

    • Father & Son Antiques: 107 W. Hargett St., Raleigh, 919-832-3030.

    Three floors of vinyl records, funky clothes and mid-century furniture await patient shoppers willing to dig for treasure.

    • Everything But Grannies Panties: 2926 Guess Rd., Durham, 919-471-0096,


    The name says it all. This store buys whole estates, so shoppers can find everything from clothing to kitchen wares for cheap.

    • Time After Time Vintage Thrift: 414 W. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, 919-942-2304, timeaftertimevintageclothing.com.

    This vintage thrift shop pulls from its Snow Camp warehouse to keep local college kids hip while also supplying clothes and props for movies, TV shows, music videos and plays.

    • ReTails Thrift Shop: 1608 N. Market Dr., Raleigh, 919-872-0019, animalkind.org/retails.html.

    This philanthropic organization resells donated items and gives 100 percent of the net profits to AnimalKind.org’s spay and neuter programs.

    • Raleigh Vintage: Online only: etsy.com/shop/RaleighVintage.

    Run by vintage addicts Andi and Isaac, this etsy site has men’s and women’s clothing and accessories from the ’20s to the ’60s.

    • Dolly’s Vintage: 213B W. Main St., Durham, dollysvintage.com.

    Dolly’s has a great selection of vintage clothing for men and women, plus vintage jewelry and funky wigs,

    • Villa Consegna: 2003 Fairview Rd., Raleigh, 919-828-3737,


    For everyone’s inner Carrie Bradshaw. Though not exactly “thrifty,” fashion divas will delight in finding Christian Louboutin ankle boots for $306 and a Tiffany necklace for $185.

    • Passage Consignment: 1924 Wake Forest Rd., Raleigh, 919-828-7890,


    There’s some high-end stuff here, but the emphasis is on nice, name-brand clothing that’s still in great shape.

    • Dress: 3528 Wade Ave., Raleigh, 919-699-6505 or dressraleigh.com

    Part consignment, part new and overstock, all high-end good stuff. They’ll even help you put a look together.

    More resources

    • Many thrift shopping bloggers swear by thethriftshopper.com as their source for discovering consignment and resale stores in their area.

    • The free iPhone app ThriftBuddy lets shoppers make wish lists and locate nearby stores, garage sales and flea markets.

If shopping is a sport, then thrift and vintage shopping should be considered an Olympic event. It requires patience, concentration, a keen eye and plenty of practice.

Luckily, there are plenty of venues for training. Secondhand clothing stores abound in the Triangle, offering bargain wares and vintage duds as well as high-end designer consignment merchandise.

But before you head out, become familiar with the types of secondhand stores – each with important differences that budding thrift-shoppers should know.

Consign or go thrifty?

Most thrift stores, like Goodwill or the Salvation Army, are donation-based and sell items for very low prices, usually to benefit a nonprofit organization.

Independent rapper Macklemore made Goodwill cool after his hit “Thrift Shop” blew up on the radio and Internet.

“I wear your granddad’s clothes/I look incredible,” he says in the chorus. Plus, the prices at thrift stores are a fraction of the price for the same or similar item in a department store, he notes – and the thrift store clothes have more character.

Consignment stores are similar. They pay customers for clothes or other items and examine each piece for quality. These stores are slightly more expensive than thrift shops, but still way below department store prices.

Consignment is also more curated, so there is less stuff to dig through.

Lyndsay Herrin, a sales associate at Nora and Nicky’s Designer Resale in downtown Raleigh, says consignment stores are great for making some money and maybe finding a few new items to keep.

“A lot of our consigners, they love our feature of the money they make stays in an account, and they can spend it here or they can get the check,” she said.

Nora and Nicky’s sells items at a third of their retail price, and pays 45 percent of that price to the consigners who sold them the clothes.

“I love (resale shopping) because you can get random pieces that somebody else might not have,” Herrin said. “Where people bring it in from all different places versus just going to one store and shopping their brand. And you get it at a great price.”

Vintage shops are also usually higher quality than thrift stores, and carry items that span the decades – usually from the ’80s or older. Shoppers will find old pieces in like-new condition or repurposed pieces from long ago. These stores have higher prices, though are still relatively inexpensive.

Embrace the experience

A common feature of resale shops is disorganization, but don’t get discouraged.

Hoards of decades-old clothes may occupy bowing clothes racks, and tangled handbag straps may hang off walls.

But despite the overwhelming amount of items in the store, it is important to dig through everything to find the treasures, said Jamie Powell of Raleigh, an avid thrift shopper.

Powell wears many trendy hats in Raleigh’s fashion world. She designs clothing for her brand Revamp using vintage, eco-friendly or recycled materials. She also manages Cat Banjo, a boutique in Raleigh’s Cameron Village, and is the operations director for Redress Raleigh, a foundation dedicated to promoting eco-friendly fashion and designers.

Since discovering Goodwill in high school, Powell has enjoyed the thrill of the hunt and frequently shops thrift and consignment in the area.

Her favorite clothing to dig for is jeans, but furniture is also great to buy secondhand for those on a budget, she said. For old-school jewelry, shoes and furs, Powell recommends the flea market at the N.C. State Fairgrounds.

Allie Vick, a thrift shop fan who also works at St. John, a high-end fashion boutique in Charlotte, suggests you know what you’re looking for before you dive in at a thrift store.

“Study the trends. It’s really nice to have an idea of what you want when you go to the thrift store because it can be overwhelming,” she said. “Look in places you wouldn’t normally look. A lot of time the workers will stick things in the wrong places.”

Powell’s No. 1 tip: Shopping for thrift outside large cities is a great way to find cool stuff.

“Small town random thrift stores will have the best stuff,” she said. “In a college town like Raleigh, young people will pick everything over.”

Patient thrift store digging pays off, though. Vick says she rarely shops even in the higher-end consignment stores now.

“Once you’ve paid $3 for something, it’s hard to pay $19.99 for a dress,” she said. “It doesn’t seem like a deal.”

Stewart: 919-829-4568

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