Thursday, April 24, 2008

Expectant Moms are Thrifty Too

The stigma attached to used clothing no longer exists.  In today's fashion world it's acceptable to brag about a great deal you bought at consignment whereas years ago, you'd be mortified if the words "used" and "clothes" parted from your lips.

This trend in second hand clothing doesn't stop with the frugal teenager, rather it permeates many sectors of society, often focusing on a specific target market.

For instance, there are at least 3 consignment stores on Cape Cod that cater to Infants, Toddlers, and Pregnant Moms-to-be:
  1. Repeat After Me in Orleans
  2. Tots to Teens Fashion Exchange also in Orleans, and
  3. Children's Orchard in Hyannis.
Repeat After Me is run by a local mother-daughter team: Sue Hall and Amber Dauphinais.  Amber has two children of her own and felt that a consignment store catering to young moms would offer an affordable alternative to other baby stores. If you're interested in donating or purchasing clothes, check out the full story here.

Children's Orchard, by comparison, is a national consignment store operating in 22 states.  They offer a discount club, called the MOMS Club, that gives you a one-time $5 dollar discount as well as other incentives and they also guarantee you'll receive top dollar for your donations.  You can visit their website at:

With the economy running amuck as of late, it's nice to know that:
  • there are wallet friendly alternatives out there,
  • and even your kids will think you're cool to be a Frugal Fanny.

Noah's Ark Thrift & Gift Shoppe

The first time I pulled into the parking lot of Noah’s Ark Thrift & Gift Shoppe on Route 28 in Harwich I saw a man and woman loading several handsome pine chairs into the back of their minivan. It made me hopeful that I would find some furniture at this shop because most thrift stores carry a lot of clutter and nothing of substance when it comes to furniture. I would like to do a segment in a future post about the many great secondhand furniture stores on Cape Cod, but I digress.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed to find a lot of knick knacks and not much in the way of furniture. Their website remarks that they have, "Nearly new clothes, antiques, small appliances, household items, special glassware and small furniture," so maybe the chairs were simply an anomaly. I would also argue about the 'nearly new clothes' selection; I spotted some new looking apparel, but most of the clothes looked like they had just come out of grandma's attic. I'm not saying they weren't in good condition, they just looked dated. Another small peeve of mine was that some of the clothes racks were literally on top of one another, making it difficult to browse.

Yet what the store may lack in furniture and clothing, they make up for in their selection of household items. I ended up buying a signed print, 'Sweet Romance', by photographer Harvey Edwards for $12. The print still had the certificate of authenticity on the back and I found the same painting on ebay, it had sold for $100. So check this store out if you need things for your home, but skip it if you need things for your closet.

Monday, April 21, 2008

My Favorite Thrift Store on Cape

My favorite thrift store on the Cape is hands down Second Glance right behind George's Pizza on Route 28 in Harwich Port. Second Glance is a boutique, carrying clothes of the same caliber as those found at Consigning Women but at only a fraction of the cost. Plus, all of their proceeds go to the Family Pantry on Queen Anne Road in Harwich.  

Last time I visited I picked up a pink flowered skirt for $4 and a red chemise from Express Design Studio for $4 (shown above with an AnnTaylor plaid skirt from Fishermen's House Thrift). I also found an autographed watercolor by New Orleans native Peter Bryant for $7.50, originally $45. They also have the best selection of housewares that I've seen at a thrift store, including many items still in their original packages.

Several times in my posts I have made distinct clarifications between thrift stores and consignment shops, mostly in terms of prices. While the two types of used clothing stores do have similarities, there are several key inherent differences. Thrift stores are generally non-profit organizations that support a charity, such as Second Glance described above. Most of the employees are volunteers and those who donate clothes don't receive money for their donations. 

Consignment shops, conversely, are for-profit organizations that rely on donations from patrons who will receive a portion of the proceeds when their clothes are sold. Generally the donor will receive 50% of the selling price, but this varies from location to location. Examples of consignment shops on the Cape include the above referenced Consigning Women as well as Second Time Around Thrift & Consignment Shop in Hyannis.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Thou Shalt Not Park Here

Holy Trinity Thrift on Route 28 in Harwich begs a laugh before you even walk in the door because there are numerous "thou shalt not park here" signs in front of their store. The women who work there are just as comical. One delightful woman made it her duty to become my personal shopper and pick out outfits for me despite the fact that, as she quoted, "I don't know what the young people are wearing these days." She did a pretty good job though, picking out clothes such as a 100% silk skirt suit from Ann Taylor. I tried several items on, none of which fit well, and ended up leaving with 2 slips to wear under dresses for $2 a piece. 

Now the slips were a bit borderline for clothes that I would buy at a thrift store, but here are is a list of items that I absolutely refuse to buy used:
1. Underwear and Bras (What would possess someone to even donate these in the first place?)
2. Socks, pantyhose or shoes (I know how bad my feet smell, why would I want them to smell like yours too?)
3. Kitchenware (pots, pans, silverware, glasses)
4. Bed linens or towels (tablecloths are okay)

...I may be thrifty, but I have my limitations!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Fishermen's House Thrift Shop

Fishermen's House Thrift Shop, near the intersection of Route 28 and Old Main in South Yarmouth, is in my top five thrift shops because they carry better quality clothes from department stores, their prices are reasonable, their volunteers are helpful, and I always find something nice when I go. On this visit, I bought a brown striped skirt for $5 and a brown laced tank for $3. The women whom I checked out with were a riot because they couldn't believe what a great outfit I had found in their store. Side note: on previous visits, I have also picked up clothes from Ann Taylor, H&M, and Nordstrom's at this store.

**THRIFT NEWS**There's a new thrift store called "Thrift Haven" on White's Path (in the Subway plaza) in South Yarmouth that will soon be opening its doors. Their sign says, 'Quality used clothes for women, men, and children.' I'll let you know when they open.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Business Cards have Arrived

So I received my new business cards today! Even though I don't technically have a business yet, they will be a great promotional tool for my blog. My plan is to start distributing them to the thrift stores that I visit in the hopes of increasing traffic and getting my name out there as the Savvy Thrifter.

In the meantime, I found some great blog tools on and I'm trying to give my pictures more pizazz to increase my site's appeal. Lately I have been using my laptop's built in camera to take pictures, which accounts for all the weird angles you might have noticed! I was going to use the Pentax, but I don't know what I'd do with all the useless pictures of clothes and odds and ends. So, begrudgingly, I have to dig up my old digital camera, which is a piece of crap, and start using that instead. I also had the novel idea, much to my husband's dismay, to purchase a mannequin to display my savvy chic thrift outfits (the hangers just aren't cutting it). I've found one that I like and maybe it won't creep him out too much: my new dummy.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Orleans Community Exchange & Thrift Shop

I must admit that I can be somewhat of a dolt on occasion. I have been to the Orleans Community Exchange & Thrift Shop several times and I have commented that it is a small shop. Well it is a small store if you don't realize that there are two more rooms in the back. It's amusing that I never noticed how the outside of the building was much larger than the inside. Oh well.

When you first walk into the O.C.E.T.S you enter a room full of display cases filled with jewelry and collectibles. The next room is women's clothing. They don't have a huge selection but the clothes they do have are of better quality and in great condition. Their clothes are priced like a consignment shop rather than a thrift, but it all goes to benefit students at Nauset High School, so who can complain about that?

 On this visit I picked up a pink paisley skirt for $5 and a pair of Banana Republic shorts for $6.   I paired the skirt with a peach Evie sweater from the Goodwill Store in Hyannis.  Across the hall from the ladies' clothing is a small fitting room. In the fitting room there are various thank you letters from students who have received scholarships from the thrift store. I thought that was a really neat idea and I told one of the volunteers as such.

The next room has a limited selection of men's and children's clothes. The last two rooms (that I didn't realize were in existence) are stock full of knick knacks, linens, household goods, clearance items, and coats. I deliberated over buying some funky candlestick holders for $3, but I didn't know where I'd put them. The store does get a lot of foot traffic though, so they'll probably be gone the next time I come in.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Don't Forget to Check your Clothes

I finally made it back to Cape & Islands EMS Thrift this week to check out their new warm weather apparel. The thing I've noticed about thrift shopping is that it's not always the store that I like; rather, it's the person donating clothes with similar tastes and sizes as me whom I like. Case in point, I go to the EMS shop several times a month but I rarely find anything. Yet I keep going back because new donations come in constantly and eventually someone will bring in clothes that actually fit me. So if this sounds like you, keep this in mind when you're out shopping.

Well this trip did prove to be lucrative after all, I bought:
~ a beautiful BCBG cardigan sweater $4     
~ a spaghetti strap dress from American Eagle for $3, and
~ a pink striped v-neck shirt for $4. 

I always try clothes on before I buy them--and you should too, most thrift stores have some type of closet or bathroom with a mirror--but please be extra careful to look the clothes over as well! I tried on that pink shirt at the shop and it looked clean and free of stains so I didn't examine it too thoroughly. Upon returning home, however, I noticed that the back was longer than the front because the previous owner had cut something off the shirt. My guess is that there was a sash that tied in the front and she didn't like it so she removed it. I will still wear the shirt, but it's a good lesson to remember; these clothes are, after all, used.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

How to Contact Me

Due to the quick growth and success of my blog, I have created an email address where you can contact me with your questions, comments, or concerns on how I can improve on my site:

My first question is, what thrift shop would you like to see me visit next?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Third Dimension of Outlet Shopping

I deliberated about adding this entry because the Clothes Den in Orleans doesn't exactly constitute thrift shopping, but I got some good deals so I thought what the heck. I'm not sure what you'd call the Clothes Den as it falls somewhere between consignment shops and outlet stores like Marshalls, but essentially it stocks well known brands (AE, Delia's, Ann Taylor) at deeply discounted prices. However, much of their merchandise is, oh how do the big department stores put it? ah yes, irregular.  

Clothes I've purchased here include a hot pink American Eagle tee for $5 and a hooded shirt for $10 that, for lack of a better description, is missing the front.  The little bird makes me equivocally as happy as the grinning moneys on my shower curtain. I mean I know Stacy and Clinton from What Not To Wear would beg to differ, but whatEVER.

I paired the pink tee with a black lace tank (Marshalls), a multi-colored skirt (New York & Co) and a black belt (Mom's closet).  The hoodie goes well with a yellow tank ($3, Fishermen's House Thrift).  

Another Cape store that falls into this third dimension of outlet shopping is Price Point in West Yarmouth. It can be deceiving when you first walk in because they have all the old lady attire up front (Carolyn Taylor anyone?), but in the back they stock clothes from Vicky's (Victoria's Secret), J Crew, and Gap. I bought a pair of black Gap capris for $6 that I paired with a striped tank with a built in bra ($2, First Parish Thrift Brewster) for my yoga workouts.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Why I'm not a Fashion Show

I first started thrifting in high school, though back then it was in the hopes of scoring some classic vintage pieces rather than saving some green. High school fashion is unfortunately very label driven and so, wanting to fit in, I didn't want to risk my reputation by shopping at thrift stores. 

When I went to college, I found that my former high school friends had nothing on the Armani wearing, Gucci footed, Prada carrying fashion shows that some refer to as college girls. Yet because I lacked a cushy trust fund and the desire to be trendy, I didn't find the need to keep up with them. In fact, I was living on my own with my boyfriend and we had a budget to keep. 

And so as we moved from place to place and supported ourselves along the way, I finally learned the true value of shopping at thrift stores. It really doesn't matter what the label on the back of your shirt or the front of your TV says, what really matters is the the impression that will be left long after you're gone.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

First Parish Brewster Thrift Shop

A recent trip to First Parish Brewster Thrift Shop yielded:
  • a little white garbage can with swinging lid for the bedroom for $1
  • an almost new pair of Tommy Hilfinger [as my mom likes to call him] flip flops for $2, and
  • a brand new photo album from Christmas Tree Shop for $2. 

The photo album holds 500 photos and each page has space for 2 vertical photos and 3 horizontal photos which is a great idea because I take a fair amount of vertical pictures. Now I just have to get film for my Pentax camera (see 2nd post) and start filling that baby up! 

So you might be wondering how I know where to find all these great thrift shops. Well, most of the thrift stores I visit have a handy little blue pamphlet called, "Touring the Thrift Shops of Cape Cod." I have made it my mission to visit every one of the shops listed in the brochure, all 38 of them!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Cape & islands EMS Thrift Shop

Cape & Islands EMS Thrift Shop, at the intersection of Main Street and Old Colony Road in Orleans, gets in new merchandise all the time. The last time I went they had pretty much cleared out the store because they're in the process of putting out spring and summer clothes. One of the volunteers told me that they were giving all their winter clothes to the Salvation Army. I thought that was pretty neat, because I've always wondered what happens to thrift clothes that never find a home; now I know that the cycle goes on somewhere else.

I bought a 100% silk shirt for $3, but I will see if my mom wants it because it doesn't really go with anything in my closet. That's one of the only problems I've discovered about thrifting: I will buy something that I don't need or want just because it's cheap and then I will never use it! One great tip I can give for buying clothes--a tip I learned from my best friend--is to only buy clothes in colors that are already a part of your wardrobe. For instance, if you find a cute shirt that you really like, but it's bright pink and all the clothes in your closet are green and purple, don't buy it! You will have to go out and buy more clothes to match that one shirt; instead, buy clothes in colors that will compliment each other so you can make many outfits out of a few key pieces.

I also bought a 3 piece cream and sugar set with a matching tray for $4 The tag on the bottom of the tray said the set had sold for $40, and it looked like it had never been used! I didn't need a cream and sugar set because I already had one, but I loved the pattern and knew I could do something with it. Later that day I had a brainstorm to convert the set into little pots for my herbs, so now they are full of soil and seeds and sitting in the sun in front of my window. 

The last item I bought was a shower caddy for $2. I never used one before I met my husband, but they are extremely useful! Especially because my two dogs love to climb into the bathtub and knock shampoo bottles all over the floor and eat the soap. Well not anymore! So I haven't had any luck finding clothes recently, but at least I've gotten some good buys! (Fade out with the Target jingle, 'you say good buy, I say hello')...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Tour of Hyannis Thrift Stores

Hospice & Palliative Care Thrift Shop in Barnstable Village has a great selection of clothes, everything from Ann Taylor to J Crew and GAP, and most of their merchandise is in like new condition. Items I have bought there recently include a Boyd’s Bear in mint condition for $2; a brand new 3-pack of men’s wife beaters for $5, originally $15; and a brand new Glade scented oil candle for $2.

Cape Cancer Thrift is also in Barnstable village, about a quarter of a mile from the Hospice thrift. They have a minimal clothing section, though they were offering a ‘stuff a bag for $4’ special the last time I went. My mom has been there before though and she picked up some cute shirts, so I guess, like all the others, it’s pretty much hit or miss. Cape Cancer Thrift has the largest selection of furniture of all the thrift stores I have visited and most of it is in good condition. My mom's friend bought her couch from there and she's very happy with it.

If you'd like to visit a few thrift stores in one easy trip, then check out these shops on Main Street in Hyannis:
  1. The Friendly Thrift Shop in the basement of the Federated Church
  2. High Hopes Thrift Shop in the First Baptist Church
  3. Cape Cod Auxiliary Thrift near Harry's, and
  4. Second Time Around Thrift & Consignment at the end of Main Street

Second Time Around Thrift & Consignment is one of the most unusual stores I've ever been in. The store is in a windmill, so it has very high ceilings and it's crammed full of stuff: clothes, shoes, antiques, furniture, jewelry, pottery from around the world. It's a little pricier than other thrifts because it's a consignment store, but most of the merchandise seems worth it due to high quality and good condition. On my last visit I picked up a light green H&M button up shirt for $5.  I paired it with a green tank (J. Jill, $10), a black peacoat (First Church Thrift Shop, $3), and a pair of Gap jeans (Wrentham Outlets).