Updated Mar 7, 2023 - Business

The Twin Cities' thriving thrift scene

Illustration of a clothes hanger resembling a recycling icon

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Twin Cities shoppers looking for savings and sustainability have lots of options thanks to the metro’s thriving thrift store scene.

Why it matters: With inflation on the rise and the climate impact of fast fashion, buying second hand is an easy way to save some money, lower your carbon footprint and shop for unique items.

The state of play: "Thrift store" is a catch-all term but there are several categories to note when searching for a place to shop.

  • Second hand stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army sell almost anything for cheap.
  • Vintage stores have a higher price point and focus on older clothing, accessories and furniture in good or great condition.
  • Consignment shops sell upscale clothing, housewares and furniture in great condition.
  • Outlet stores are dedicated shops for brands to sell their own merchandise for discounted prices.

Where to start: Go in with an open mind — it's unlikely any store will have exactly what you're looking for. Here are some of our local recommendations.

👚 Clothing

🛋 Furniture:

🧸 Household goods:

  • The Salvation Army in North Loop is a regular thrift shop with a semi-secret Target overstock store. The main floor has plenty of brand new merchandise at heavily discounted prices.
  • Hidden Treasures heavily discounts a portion of the store every week — from 50% by week two to 90% by the end of the month. Shoppers can buy an entire set of dishes for under $10.
  • Half Price Books offers low-cost books, games, toys and more at several metro locations.

🤔 Oddities:

  • University of Minnesota ReUse Program sells items from the Twin Cities campus to the public, including scientific equipment and specialized tools for cheap. Note: It's only open two days a week.
  • AxMan Surplus Store's inventory could supply the right person with the parts to build a time machine. The shops have every electronic thing you could think of and a variety of odd items you have to see to believe.

Of note: I once found two industrial-sized barrels full of small cat dolls at AxMan, but the heads were only attached by Velcro. The employee told her they were designed so buyers could rip off the heads when they were angry.

Tip: If you don't mind digging through warehouse bins, check out the Goodwill Outlets in St. Paul, Chaska and Brooklyn Park. All items are sold by the pound — typically under $3.

  • And: some thrift stores also give out coupons for your next purchase when you donate items, or have "deal days" with storewide discounts.

Worth noting: Many of these stores will buy your gently used goods, too.

My thought bubble: Though I occasionally shop at big thrift chains, I try and spend my money at smaller non-profit shops like Old School by Steeple People and Flying Pig Thrift.

  • I've found that the prices are lower, the selection is more unique and the money you spend is going to a local cause.
  • Plus, small shops sometimes give extra deals to their volunteers. I volunteer at Old School and receive a discount on anything I purchase the day of my shift.

Editor's note: This story was originally published in July 2022 and updated March 2023.


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