Thrift Crawl

Last Saturday, my friend Catherine and I went on a thrift store crawl of Baltimore. (We had invited several other people to join us, but apparently picked a bad day.) We hit up five stores and had a blast, and we each got some great stuff. We started off by meeting for breakfast at The Metropolitan (which I really like, and I was very happy to recently discover that getting to Federal Hill without a car–at least some parts of it–is not as impossible as I had thought for the past year). Then we hit five thrift/consignment/vintage stores. Here’s the Google Map I made for the crawl, and I’ve put up photos of some of what I got, but if you’re interested in the play-by-play, that’s below.

Overall, we had a really fun time and will definitely do this again (hopefully with a few more people in tow). I think if we do this with more than three or four people, we’ll need to be a bit more organized and set time limits at some of the stores so we can make sure that we get to all of the different places, with enough time for lunch at some point. We may also need to drop a place from the crawl, but each had a different idea — Catherine thought we should drop Value Village, as she found it overwhelming; I thought we should drop DeBois Textiles as I felt that they didn’t have as much to offer as the other places we visited.

Brooklyn Park Value Village
We visited this store because it was named the Best Thrift Store in City Paper’s Best of Baltimore 2008. The place is huge, clean, well-lit and well-run. It was the most thrift-store of the thrift stores we visited — they carried everything from toys to housewares to strollers to clothes and back. Catherine felt that it was overwhelming, but I felt that their high level of organization really helped on that. We focused mostly on the clothes, which were organized by gender, then by type of clothing (skirts, tops) then by size. This made it really easy to just go to a rack and flick through the clothing until something caught your eye. Since I was focusing on finding shirts, I spent most of my time going through those racks. (That said, if you’re just there to dig around and see what you can find, I can see how it’d be overwhelming to go through everything.) One thing to note if you visit this location is that there are no fitting rooms, so if you want to try anything on you have to do it in the aisles. I had worn a close-fitting top anyway, as sometimes you just don’t want to get a dressing room to try on one thing. So, we took our armloads of tops, found a mirror, and tried things on. Catherine’s best find at Value Village (according to me, anyway) was a pair of peep-toe wedges made of a kelly green canvas with tiny white polka dotes. My best find was a little shirt for my cousin.

DeBois Textiles
This place is relatively new, or at least their retail operation is. I was interested in going because they’ve been advertising in City Paper, and the ads caught my eye. They carry both vintage clothing and fabric remnants, and I was hoping to pick up some fabrics for future sewing projects. Alas, this was not to be. This was the only place where neither one of us got anything (though we both tried on a few things — do note that the dressing room is the employee bathroom, which was clean but that was about all it had going for it). The clothes were a mix of contemporary and vintage, though we did overhear someone who worked there saying they were phasing out the contemporary clothing. The fabrics were mostly home decor, and nothing really caught my eye. Catherine liked it for the vintage clothing, but I wasn’t really sold on the place — it’s in a warehouse, so it felt kind of dark and dirty, and overall it just seemed like they weren’t quite sure what they were going for — being a textiles place or a clothing place.

Goodwill Boutique
This is a new Goodwill that opened earlier this year. It carries more upscale clothing (and some housewares) and is set up more like a regular store than a Goodwill – there were displays of things, and the racks they used were nicer than you’d find at your average Goodwill. Clothes were arranged in the same way as at Value Village, though they didn’t have nearly as much. (The boutique is much smaller than your average Goodwill.) I think they had slightly more women’s clothing than men’s, and they also had a small children’s section. It was very clean and well-organized, and the dressing rooms were nice. Of course some of that is probably because it’s new, but some of that is no doubt because it is geared toward more upscale customers. We each got a couple of things here; I’d say that Catherine’s best find was a cute green top with a woven yoke, and mine was a Banana Repubic cardigan that’s cut more like a jacket than a cardigan.

Fashion Attic
This is a jam-packed consignment store in Fells Point, carrying contemporary women’s clothing. The store is clean and the dressing rooms are typical consignment store (a curtain instead of a door). Clothes are arranged by type (tops, skirts) then size. I like that arrangement, but the problem here was that there was so much stuff on the racks that it was hard to move the hangers to get a look at things. Catherine didn’t get anything here, and I think my best find was a light blue top with some small ruffling and gathering.

Vogue Revisited
Of course, no thrift crawl is complete without a visit to Vogue Revisited in Hampden, which I think is still my favorite consignment store in Baltimore. Vogue Revisited carries contemporary, upscale women’s clothing — I say “upscale” because this is where all the women who live in Roland Park sell their very nice designer clothing when they’re done with it. The store is packed full of clothes, shoes, handbags and accessories, and is a little dusty. Clothes are arranged by kind and then size, and as is the case at Fashion Attic it can be hard to actually get a look at things because there’s so much on the racks. This store can be a little overwhelming, but I usually just focus on whatever section of clothing I’m currently in need of, with a quick perusal of the rest. We both got a bunch of stuff here. I’d say Catherine’s best find was a tie between a cute black and white dress with red accents and a yellow pair of wedge espadrilles. My best find was a green and blue jersey dress, with a red Harvey’s seatbelt bag as a close second.

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