A Rough Guide to Atlanta Thrift Stores, Part 1

Rough Guide Pt 1Instagram follower Audrey asked whether I had a list of my favorite thrift shops anywhere in writing. The short answers are “no” and “I should make one, stat.”

And so, without further ado—except to note that this list is really centered on Northeast Atlanta, is based on my experiences, and is open to edits/corrections if you want to add anything or I get something wrong—here is part 1 of my brief eval of the thrift stores I typically visit: the non-Goodwills.

Decatur

Last Chance

I mourned the loss of the Church St. location but find the bigger warehouse further north on Decatur to be about the same, if a little sadder in atmosphere. The prices are cheap; selection is huge but you have to hunt if you want to find the treasures (e.g. my red J. Crew coat).

Price: $
Selection: B-
Atmosphere: C+
Organized by: size, with separate “designer” racks
Discounts: color of the week
Benefits: it’s for-profit as far as I can tell, but they give their leftovers to a disability nonprofit

 

 

Chamblee

Last Chance

I’m trying to recall whether I’ve found anything worth keeping here besides my first pair of Trotters (narrow, champagne-colored gems that were the inspiration for my painted pair after the originals bit the dust)….a lone cardigan?  Depressingly cluttered and claustrophobic, the price is about the only thing that’s right.  (I have found some baby jammies and onesies but even those racks are crammed.)

Price: $
Selection: D+
Atmosphere: crying emoji
Organized by: size
Discounts: color of the week
Benefits: same as above

 

Attic Treasures

Decent quality on-trend brands in here, and lots of it—but I’m not sure they have dressing rooms (or at least in my whirlwind trips with baby stroller or spouse in tow I haven’t found them!), so I haven’t bought much.  The spouse has not been impressed with the men’s section.

Price: $
Selection: A-
Atmosphere: well-edited but not much space between racks
Organized by: color
Discounts: not sure
Benefits: Assistance League Atlanta (does that not sound like a superhero consortium?)

 

St. Vincent De Paul

Warehouse-style store with lots of clothes but not great quality—lots of cheap fabric and offbrand labels.  (Shoe selection is decent.) I’ve made 2 or 3 trips and have yet to buy anything.

Price: $
Selection: D+
Atmosphere: roomy, not fancy
Organized by: size (I think), plus a few designer racks
Discounts: not sure
Benefits: St. Vincent de Paul charitable society

 

The Suthers Center Thrift Shop

Named for Father Derwent Suthers, an Episcopal priest committed to serving those in need, the Suthers Center is staffed by cheerful, hippie-esque volunteers happy to have a conversation or let you browse.  I’ve had no luck (yet) with clothes for me, but have found some baby things.  Their record collection is far superior to the bad Christmas medleys making up most Goodwill record sections and they also have some great books.

Price: $
Selection: Small for clothes but good for housewares, books, records
Atmosphere: well-tended and sunny
Organized by: size (I think)
Discounts: not sure
Benefits: Suthers Center’s food pantry and emergency assistance programs

 

Toco Hills

Nearly New

This store is in the same shopping center as my favorite—ahem, the only real—bagel place in Atlanta. I visit probably once a month when my bosom priest friend and I grab a schmear and a schmooze at the Bagel Palace and then head on over to NN. The shop is small and a bit random in selection; a lot of it is a mishmash of Target/Walmart tees and grandma’s Neiman Marcus closet cleanout.  My friend has had better luck here than I have for adult clothes, but I’ve found good shorts and shoes for my toddler (not to mention her favorite Wolverine doll) here.

Price: $ to $$ (definitely $ on half price days)
Selection: B-
Atmosphere: relaxed and neat, very pleasant staff; really busy on half price days
Organized by: size, plus a few designer racks
Discounts: half-price Saturdays once every few months
Benefits: Junior League of Atlanta’s charitable initiatives

 

Midtown

Cathedral of St. Philip Thrift House

A small, quirky shop next to a scooter store, the Thrift House is run by staff and Episcopalian volunteers and gets many of its donations from the Cathedral’s parishioners. This means the selection often includes designer pieces, though often dating from the Golden Girls era.  Housewares can be quite lovely and the 25 cent National Geographics are great fodder for collages or school projects. I rocked a cream Banana Republic jacket from here for ages.

Price: $
Selection: B
Atmosphere: helpful and friendly, like you stopped by someone’s (slightly crowded with knickknacks) house for tea
Organized by: size, with designer racks full of sequins and tiny sizes
Discounts: markdowns based on how long an item has been there
Benefits: the ministries of St. Philip’s

 

West End

Ashes to Beauty

I’m not sure this hole-in-the-wall (in a good way) on the West Side is still open, but I scored a merino wool sweater I wore for several years and these cowboy boots here and the volunteer staff was charming and helpful. You never know what you’ll find digging through the selection in this converted garage-like space (don’t forget to look up!).

Price: $
Selection: B-
Atmosphere: not great lighting but full of curiosities
Organized by: men’s /women’s clothing folded on tables or hung on racks
Discounts: —
Benefits: church ministry

 

Avondale Estates

Salvation Army

Permanently closed as of January 2016.  This makes me a little sad because I found this beauty there.  Other locations are still open in Metro Atlanta but I haven’t visited any to be able to comment.
Note: Many people choose not to patronize ol’ Sally because of the organization’s anti-gay theology and their history of discrimination against LGBTQ employees stance on LGBTQ rights.
Others feel that, despite the Salvation Army’s homophobia and transphobia, the vast majority of the money received goes to vital helping ministries (soup kitchens, shelters, etc.) that serve people in need regardless of their sexual orientation.  (In a strange twist, the Salvation Army shelter in Kansas City was listed as a welcoming alternative for same-sex couples, including those legally married, when another Christian-based shelter barred them).

I don’t support their theology or discriminatory policies, but I’ve also worked with plenty of people who have benefited from their shelters when nowhere else could/would take them.  Now that there are no stores near my area, I’ll be skipping them by default.
Ultimately, your call.

 

Finders Keepers – Consignment

If the thrill of the hunt ain’t so thrilling to you, or you’re willing to spend a little more money on consistently higher-quality, in-style merchandise, consignment is the way to go.  I’ve easily found special occasions dresses here and was happy to pay $25 for a great piece I knew I’d wear.  The shoe selection is good and the men’s section is stellar compared to pretty much every other thrift store men’s section.  They also have a boutique location in Decatur but the stuff is way too high-priced (and trendy) for my blood.
(The men’s section may have moved to the Decatur location, not sure.)

Price: $$ to $$$
Selection: A+
Atmosphere: boutique-like
Organized by: size
Discounts: prices go down the longer an item has been on the floor
Benefits: for-profit

 

The Edge

I have only stopped in here once, but was underwhelmed by their selection.  Not much pizzazz to the women’s offerings and small men’s section.  I did have fun looking through the home decor and tchotchkes section as it’s sort of like a garage sale filled with crochet books circa 1987 and odd single-purpose kitchen appliances.  If anyone out there loves this place, please share; I’m open to changing my mind!

Price: $
Selection: Meh
Atmosphere: garage sale-esque; sappy Christian pop music on the speaker system
Organized by: size
Discounts: not sure
Benefits: church ministry

 

 

What are your favorite (non-Goodwill) thrift stores in Atlanta?  (Please comment especially if you are familiar with stores outside NE ATL!)  Where do I need visit??

If you’re from elsewhere, what factors do you look for in a thrift shop—price, selection, atmosphere, etc.?

 

 

 

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