heads up: family pathways’ annual bag sale

high plains thrifter // family pathwaysAnother day, another bag sale! Tomorrow, bargain hunters should steer themselves north to Family Pathways Thrift Stores, where all the clothing that fits into a bag will be a whopping 50% off. Due to popular demand, shoppers are limited to just one bag at the discounted rate, so you better get to practicing your space-saving folding skills. (The sale is limited to clothing only; accessories aren’t part of the deal.) All nine Family Pathways store locations are participating—click here to find the location closest to you. As always, all profits raised at Family Pathways stores goes to supporting people in need in the northern metro.

Happy hunting!



store review: family pathways’ north branch used book store

Is there anything more fulfilling than a good, old-fashioned bookstore shopping spree?  I don’t mean the “fill up the Amazon shopping cart” kind (fulfilling in an altogether different way), but the “holy shit I’ve been at this bookstore two hours, where has the time gone?” kind. I’m hard-pressed to think of anything more fun. But then I discovered Family Pathway’s Used Book Store up in North Branch. A magical place where bibliophiles like me can enjoy hours-long shopping extravaganza and barely dent their checking accounts.


The prices: Pricing at this store is as straight-forward as it gets: $4 for hardcovers, $3 for paperbacks, $1 for clearance corner books, 99 cents for children’s books. When I visited, a sale on all gardening, craft and cookbooks was running, knocking 20 percent off books in those genres.

The organization: When I first walked into this thrift, I honestly felt like I was at a cozy, small-town library. The shelves are clutter-free and every section is clearly identified, making it incredibly easy to zero-in on the sections you’re interested in.

The collectible books section: Taking up a good portion of the back of the store is a categorized assortment of vintage and antique books. I found some serious gems back there, including some home-making and cook books, which were both discounted 20 percent.

The clearance corner: Tucked in the back left corner is the ample-sized clearance corner, featuring a wide variety of books, all just $1.

Where does the money raised here go? To support Family Pathways’ many varied community services, including non-medical senior services like advocacy, respite care and companionship; food pantry access for individuals and families; and support for youth and teens like mentoring programs and after-school activities at their teen centers. Family Pathways serves communities in seven counties throughout Central Minnesota and Western Wisconsin and continues to add new services based on the needs of the community.

On my last visit, I spent a total of $42 and came home with all of these books.

I’m stoked on them all…here are close-ups of a few.

Forty-three dollars people, for 14 books, about half of them vintage.

Go here to find: Books!

Selection/Variety: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Quality: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Pricing: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Organization:♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Customer service: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Cleanliness: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Do they take credit cards? Yep!

One more money-saving tip: For every 10 pounds of books you donate, you’ll receive a book buck (that looks like a bookmark!) worth $1, for use that same day or on a future visit. They also give out one book buck for every $10 you spend!

While you’re there: Why not hit Recycled Wardrobes, the thrift store just a block down on Main Street? If you’re in the mood for coffee, every cup I’ve had from North Country Coffee has been super yum. (To learn more about Family Pathways’ other thrift stores, check out this post.)

Where it is: On North Branch’s main drag: 6381 Main Street, North Branch

Hours: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Contact: 651.277.0098



thrifting trip: minneapolis to cambridge

{A gawk-worthy sunflower farm blooms outside Isanti.}

Hello dears!

Today I’m sharing one of my favorite Saturday morning thrifting trips, from Minneapolis to Cambridge. This route rocks because it’s peppered with thrifts you can visit on the way, and once you’re to Cambridge, there are three stores within a couple of blocks. The drive’s do-it-in-your-sleep easy–just cruise up Central Avenue (also known as county road 65) and you’re there! I recommend going on Saturday mornings before traffic builds up (there are a ton of lights on 65). And, some of the thrifts in Cambridge close up shop in the mid-afternoon on the weekends. New to this map, I included a few of my favorite spots to stop for snacks, ranging from the co-op in Cambridge (if I’m hankering for kombucha) to the Main Street bar/grill that makes delicious Bloody Marys and super cheap burgers.

Happy hunting!

If you like this post, might you find my thrifting maps for St. Cloud, Burnsville and up 35W useful too?



heads up: family pathways’ up-cycling contest


One of my most favorite things about thrifting is thinking of new uses for someone else’s cast-offs. Looking around my office, I see examples galore…an old muffin tin keeps some jewelry organized, a vintage suitcase displays books and magazines, an egg basket keeps dirty laundry contained. It feels so good to give  these serviceable things, that could have easily wound up in the trash, a second chance. If you, too, enjoy putting your thrifted finds to use in new ways, consider entering Family PathwaysUp-Cycling contest. There are 10 $50 gift certificates up for grabs!

The Rules

1. Entries must be received between Monday, March 14th and Thursday, March 31st.
2. Entries must contain at least one item purchased at a thrift store.
3. One entry per up-cycler.
4. Each Family Pathways store will choose 10 entries based on their creativity and originality. (If your entry doesn’t make the cut, you can pick it up between April 4-10.)
5. Chosen entries will be voted on by Family Pathways’ customers between April 4-20.
6. The winning entry will be announced on Earth Day, Friday, April 22.
7. Entries not chosen can be picked up by the artist between May 2-8.
8. Family Pathways employees and family members are not eligible to enter.

***You can read all the rules and download a registration form here.***

Want some ideas? Here are some of my favorite resources for up-cycling inspiration: Honestly…WTF, Ready Made, Design*Sponge, A Pair and a Spare, Craft, I Still Love You, New Dress a Day, Crafterholic, Craftster, Creature Comforts, Country Living, Once Wed, Momtastic, Twig & Thistle…there are so many great sites out there, chock-full of ideas.



thrifting trip: family pathways thrift stores off highway 35

Hey lovelies!

Scattered in a row along Highway 35, heading north out of the Twin Cities, are a handful of magical little thrift stores, benefiting the Cambridge, Minn.-based nonprofit, Family Pathways. The shops are mere minutes off the highway, which makes hopping off and checking them out practically effortless. Below you’ll find a quick overview of each Family Pathways store along 35. To make your treasure-hunting even easier, I made a handy little map, complete with each shop’s address, phone number and store hours. (Click on the pinpoint to view details!)

Common Denominators

Every Family Pathways I’ve visited has been clean and staffed with very friendly folks. Every shop has fitting rooms and all of them accept credit cards.

Some (Rush City, Wyoming and Pine City) are open on Sundays. This is a definite plus for someone who can’t get out of town to thrift Monday through Friday.

The chain offers a Frequent Buyer Bucks punch card. Once your card is full (or, after you’ve spent $120), you get $10 off your next purchase. You can rack up punches at all the shops, so if you’re a regular thrifter, it’s smart to get a punch card going.

Unlike many thrift stores, at most Family Pathways, the staff separates the vintage and “retro” items from the regular merchandise. Keep you eyes open for a stand-alone rack (sometimes labeled “Retro Rack” or “Vintage”) or display, usually found towards the front of the store. Usually they lump older clothes, housewares and gadgets all together.

One of my big pet peeves with some thrifts, like Unique, is inconsistent pricing. At Family Pathways, everything’s pretty standard. All vintage dresses, for example, are going to be around $4. This, I like.

Heading north on 35, you’ll come to, in this order…

Forest Lake

This is one of the biggest Family Pathways, and also one of the most far-flung off the highway (about five minutes). I was impressed with the furniture selection and the huge amount of housewares. The clothes were kind of meh and I didn’t spot a vintage section. I also felt the pricing was a bit higher here than the other stores. Perhaps because it’s the closest to the Cities?


No photo of this one, sorry folks! This is an average-size store, with so-so merchandise. I’ve found some nice ’70s and ’80s dresses here along with my favorite “I ♥ Dancing” key chain. It’s also one of the easiest stores to get to—you can see the shop from the highway.

Rush City

The Rush City store is tucked into the same building as a grocery (Rush City Foods), liquor store and bakery. It’s pretty small, but they have a healthy selection of vintage stuff. Last weekend, I found some really precious 1950s duds for a baby boy, an incredibly cute red and white polka-dotted country square-dancing dress and a handful of other nice dresses.

Pine City

The Pine City shop is also just a hop-skip-and-a-jump off the highway. This store went through a thorough remodel this year leaving it very clean and spacious. I bought a collection of vintage pop bottles there for 25-50 cents each, and have also found some pretty retro dresses, including a sleek silk cocktail dress from the 1960s. The furniture selection is pretty slim.


At the risk of feeling like I’m picking my favorite kid here, I have to say that this is my top pick of all the Family Pathways. First of all, I’m a sucker for tiny, old downtowns, and this shop is right on Main Street in Hinckley. It’s a good size, and right up front, there’s a huge display of all kinds of antique-y, vintage-y goodness. I filled up a basket this weekend with tons of pretty things, including a sweet silk Diane von Furstenberg blouse, a Grand Old Opry souvenir and some new (old) thigh-high stockings. I also found some sweet postcards from the 1970s. Expect to see a more detailed store review of this shop coming up in the next couple weeks.

Family Pathways also has shops in Cambridge, Isanti, Princeton and North Branch, but since they’re not on 35, I left them out of this little round-up. (You can find info about all the stores here.) The money spent at these shops goes to supporting senior services, food pantries and youth services programs. The nonprofit has been serving Isanti, Chisago, Pine, Kannabec and Mille Lacs counties for nearly 33 years and meets the Charities Review Council Smart Givers standards.

I hope that this post and the map is helpful. I’m thinking of making more maps of some my favorite thrifting routes. Is that something y’all would be into? Let me know!



P.S. Many thanks to my sweetheart, who told me about Family Pathways back when we first started dating, long before this blog was born. You’re the best, honey!