Thrifting is a great alternative to emptying a bank account on overpriced jeans at shopping malls, or even at less expensive department stores like Marshall’s and Wal-Mart. Not to mention that grandpa sweaters from the 1960s can make you feel pretty hip.
If you love the fun and frugality of thrifting, you understand the manic desire to find the absolute best thrift store you can and establish loyalty. The thrift stores in the valley offer great clothes and home goods, with many donating a portion of their proceeds to good causes. So if you are looking for a new store to try, here are the five best thrift stores in the Pioneer Valley:
1. Salvation Army (Hadley): This store is huge. Salvation Army boasts a massive collection of gently-used, diverse, and attractive clothes organized efficiently by gender, style, size and color. Clothing is priced generally between $5 and $9. Jewelry, scarves, purses, shoes, and other accessories are meaningfully placed throughout the store.
Kitchenware, color-coded, dominates an entire wall. The book selection is satisfying, although the music and movie sections leave a bit to be desired. Furniture and musical instruments, as well as small electronics, are fairly priced and in great condition. This store is fun, clean, well-organized and chock full of fashionable gems.
As an added benefit, store profits are donated to programs such as youth camps, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, disaster relief and elderly services.
2. Savers (Springfield): Savers is roughly the same size as Salvation Army, although the store allocates less space to clothes and more to furniture, shoes, kitchenware and media. The book and movie selections are full of great finds and well-organized by genre.
Clothes are organized by gender, style, and size, and are easy to navigate. The selection is vast and shoppers are bound to find dozens of eye-catching items in each row, priced between $3 and $6.
The organization donates regularly to over 140 nonprofit organizations worldwide, making a shopping trip to Savers even more appealing.
3. Hospice Shop (Northampton): While less than a quarter of the size of Salvation Army and Savers, Hospice Shop in Northampton is a charming hidden gem. The clothes are generally classy, but comfortable. There are small selections of sweaters, blouses, and skirts, all reasonably priced between $1 and $6. Hospice Shop also has small collections of books, shoes, accessories and kitchenware.
The mood in this tiny, roadside thrift shop is cheerful and welcoming, and the volunteers are sweet and conversational. While Hospice Shop only accepts cash or check payments, they are flexible on pricing.
Benefits are sent to the VNA & Hospice Home of Cooley Dickinson, dedicated to high-quality hospice care and home health services.
4. Goodwill (Amherst): Goodwill is moderately-sized, and is generally a hit-or-miss thrift store. The clothes, organized by style, are sometimes picked-over and sparse, but there is always an occasional surprise. The dress section is loaded with vintage, 1930s-style throwbacks. It always has good basics and, once in a while, a really unique find. Clothes are priced between $4 and $9.
There is a large, albeit disorganized, selection of books, and dominating an entire wall is a collection of housewares ranging from outdated (but still unique) Polaroid instant cameras to microwaves to gently-used linens.
Good for a quick browse every now and then, Goodwill strives to provide jobs for those struggling to find employment. This includes immigrants, those with criminal backgrounds, people with disabilities, veterans and military families, and youths and seniors alike.
5. Second Time Around (Northampton): Second Time Around is a well-organized, second-hand consignment boutique, meaning that the prices are nowhere near as affordable as a typical thrift shop. Most clothes are priced similarly to those you would find in a regular department store, but they constantly offer sales, making shopping there a bit more affordable.
The atmosphere at Second Time Around is cheery and relaxing. The clothes, shoes, and accessories sold at Second Time Around are designer brands. They are classy and in great shape, but if you’re looking for $3 sweaters, you won’t find them here.
Elise Martorano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.