Secondhand, first rate

Secondhand, first rate: A guide to thrift shops in SouthwestI’m cheap — I’ll admit it. Trudging to the Mall of America or Southdale Shopping Center often causes my wallet to shrink and cower at the bottom of my purse. Should I spend $60 on jeans or buy groceries for a week? My stomach usually wins.

But a girl’s got to have clothes and luckily, Southwest has plenty of consignment and vintage shops with cheap, hip duds that will let me be stylish without starving. Each store targets slightly different demographics, from young trendsetters to comfy professionals. Notebook in hand, I hit the streets and came up with a list of which stores are easy on the checkbook and high on style.

Tatters
2928 Lyndale Ave. S.
823-5285

Home to the best selection of used cowboy boots in Minneapolis, Tatters caters to the young, the hip, and oddly enough, the fashion clueless. With endless racks of vintage T-shirts, polyester pants, and Western snap-ups, each item in the store can be worn with varying degrees of irony. For extra fashion flavor, check out their retro array of belt buckles and sunglasses.

Via’s Vintagewear
2408 Hennepin Ave. S.
374-3649

Via’s isn’t your typical thrift store with cheap, roughed-up sweaters and worn-down sneakers. The 24-year-old shop only sells pre-1980 clothing and specializes in high quality items dating back to the 1800s — perfect if you’re looking for a $98 1940s pinstripe suit, not so great if you want a $5 sweatshirt. Shopping aside, Via’s array of authentic flapper dresses, vintage pumps and 50-year-old gowns are worth browsing for history’s sake alone.

Everyday People
2912 Hennepin Ave. S.
824-3112

If an award existed for the greatest amount of clothing packed into the smallest possible space, Uptown’s Everyday People would be a gold medal champ. The cramped store is a haven for young, stylish thriftsters, making them dig for their finds and rejoice at the price. From $5 T-shirts to $50 jeans, the search is half the fun.

Fashion Avenue
4936 France Ave. S.
929-7919

One of few upscale secondhand stores in Southwest, Fashion Avenue stocks super-expensive clothes at semi-expensive prices. Fifteen percent of its designer merchandise comes from out-of-state sellers, resulting in one-third price cuts, such as a Ralph Lauren handbag for $18 and a Dolce & Gabbana suit for $598.

Better Than Ever
3800 Grand Ave. S.
861-7030

Better Than Ever doesn’t have a ton of clothes, but the pieces they do have are funky, cute and perfect for girls who like to mix and match. I spotted a pleated Nine West skirt for $12 and tweed H&M pants for $10.75;I left with a $9 sweater-cami. Make sure to come early and often because most of the shop’s consigners are also its regular shoppers.

Steeple People
2004 Lyndale Ave. S.
871-8305

Tucked away in the back of Steeple People Surplus Store, past the used furniture, retro linens, and dusty bookshelves lies a modest collection of secondhand clothing. Mostly women’s blazers ($5), sweaters ($3), and pants ($3), with two corners dedicated to men’s and children’s clothing, the selection is low on style and high on frump. But, as any good thriftster knows, patience, time and a few good fashion ideas can go a long way.

Corner Store
900 W. Lake St.
823-1270

After 35 years in business, Corner Store, an unassuming vintage shop on Lake and Bryant, has found its niche. There isn’t a better selection of ’50s housewife dresses, retro cardigans, sweatpants, running shoes or denim jackets in town. With surf rock playing overhead and wood panel dressing rooms, the store itself is reminiscent of simpler times. Items generally range from $15–$40, hailing from outside vendors, not local consigners.

Ragstock
1433 W. Lake St.
823-6690

About 60 percent of Ragstock’s merchandise is used, bought in bulk from warehouses and other retailers, and 40 percent of the clothes are new. Between the two, the quality is about the same. That said, the shop isn’t a great source for long-term, durable wear, but it’s one of the best places in the Twin Cities to find a cheap, original Halloween costume.

Salvation Army
3740 Nicollet Ave. S.
822-1200

The term “hole in the wall” could almost apply to the Salvation Army on Nicollet Avenue, but their hole is actually in the ceiling, dripping water into a bucket on the floor, which is covered in mysterious stains. Its prices can’t be beat — $2 shoes; $5 pants; $6 dresses — but the overall feeling of despair isn’t worth my dime.

Nu Look Consignment Apparel
4956 Penn Ave. S.
925-0806

Located in a quiet business node, Nu Look is a family-oriented thrift store. It used to be a maternity consignment shop and gradually expanded into 6,000 square feet of used children’s, women’s and men’s clothing. Don’t expect to find many vintage gems buried among the prom dresses, men’s dress shirts and Casual-Corner-style clothes. This shop is best suited for domestic couples with kids.

Another Look Resale Boutique
3006 W. 50th St.
922-9299

Upscale consignment shop Another Look specializes in pickiness — bring in a used item and it’d better be pressed, hung and stylish. After two months on the rack, each piece is marked down 50 percent, creating quick turnover and more space for cute numbers like a $38 Banana Republic blazer. The shop is geared mostly toward women with slender physiques, big pocketbooks and a lot of class.

Buffalo Exchange
2727 Lyndale Ave. S.
871-911

Watch out Tatters — there’s a new hipster retailer in town. The over-30 crowd might feel a bit out of place among the Free People, Exhilaration and Arden B tags, though. Minneapolis became the national consigner’s 32nd location this fall, and, in keeping with the company’s sustainability mission, for every shopping bag eschewed by patrons, they’ll donate 5 cents to charity.

Turnstyle Consignment
4420 Drew Ave. S.
455-4090

Just up the street from 50th and France, Turnstyle Consignment has so many clothes they’ve started adding garments to a third rack near the ceiling that would take a 6-foot vertical to reach. The shop is one of nine locations in Minnesota catering mostly to moms, with a decent plus-size section and tons of children’s clothes. Arrive with $40 and you could leave with a Kenneth Cole handbag and an Yves Saint Laurent blouse.

Contact Mary O’Regan at moregan@mnpubs.com or 436-5088.