store review: animal ark thrift store

Animal Ark Thrift Store

I know, I know, a thrift store in St. Paul? Where the hell is that?? Typically the only things that can get me over that way is a visit with my Auntie Sharyn who lives in Lowertown or a hot date with my honey at Mancini’s. This thrift however, has entered into that good company, quickly becoming something else worth crossing the river for. Because, you see, this is a big thrift store that can house some pretty fantastic finds.

Situated at the top of a long hill in the adorably named neighborhood of Swede Hollow, the biggest strength of this place lies in the housewares section. If you’re looking to outfit a kitchen, top to bottom, with mostly vintage or quality used stuff, this is where I’d send you. (Big brother are you reading?? Get a colander already dude!) The entire left side of the store is essentially just household goods. Pass by the fancy sets of china displayed out front, there are plenty of deals to be had once you start digging an aisle or two back. There’s a lot to look at, so take your time. Some things you can reliably find here: an assortment of old salt and pepper sets, decanters, beautiful cake stands, vintage stemware, kitschy cookbooks and service items, all reasonably priced.

Note: The staff works the Internet to research prices, especially on the china and dishes. It’s not unusual to stumble across some pieces that are marked pretty high—whole sets of china for $150, for example—with the eBay summary taped to the shelf underneath.

Moving on…I can’t say I know very much about vinyl, but they sure seem to have a lot, and every record is $1. The stacks are stashed in the back room, which also has all the men’s clothes, lighting, gardening stuff, some furniture and electronics, all of which they have a healthy selection of.

In terms of clothes, you’ll have to go often to score anything remarkable. Some of my favorite things I’ve picked up here wardrobe-wise are some leather Brazilian-made clogs and this sporty Lee denim jacket I’m in love with. You can rely on variety of costume-y, grandma-like jewelry—think lots of beads, clip-on earrings, cuff bracelets, fake gold, belt buckles, etc. Scarves and hankies are also had aplenty.

The furniture displayed is in good shape with inoffensive, serviceable designs. I’d say it’s priced fairly, but not cheaply. A woman working there mentioned a whole ‘nother space adjacent to the shop, that’s chockful of furniture that you can get escorted to and browse, if furniture is what you’re seeking. Of course she told me this on my way out the door, so I can’t tell you first-hand what’s back over there. Good to know, though, right?

Sale-wise, every time I’ve visited, art’s been 50 percent off. While the majority consists of cheesy prints, I’ve found some charming crewel and cross-stitched pieces as well as some frames that would be worth shelling out a buck or two for. All brown dishes (covered crocks and company) always seem to be 50 percent off, too. I haven’t noticed across-the-board discounts on clothing, but they do put stuff on sale when the seasons change.

The service here is the only things I can complain about, because, it wasn’t the best the last time I was there. The lady was curt, and honest to goodness, I felt like I ruined her entire morning by asking her to ring me up. She didn’t include part of my purchase, meaning she had to run my card twice. I might as well have kicked her in the shins, it was that painful for her. Everyone has tough days, but c’mon…be nice! She was a volunteer, too, which made her sour ‘tude even more inexplicable. It’s volunteer work, not work work. Be pumped!

Where does the money raised here go? According to Animal Ark’s website, the shop generates approximately $60,000 a year for the shelter, the animals and their care. As Minnesota’s largest no-kill shelter, Animal Ark serves more than 1,000 homeless animals every year in their Hastings shelter and through their network of foster homes. The fact that the “rabbits are kept in a luxury bunny suite that includes all the amenities a house rabbit deserves,” makes my heart happy. Bunny suites for the house rabbits—for cute’s sake! If you’re considering adopting a dog or cat (or rabbit, I suppose), I dare you spend a few minutes on their site and not fall head-over-heels in love with one of the many eligible furballs.

To me, they’re a worthy organization and I’m 100-percent content to have my thrifting dollars support their mission.

Here are some of my favorite finds from this shop:

Go here to find: Dishes, kitchen utensils, vintage sheets, jewelry, pet supplies, kitschy art, furniture (dining tables, especially)

Selection/Variety: ♥ ♥ ♥

Quality: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Pricing: ♥ ♥

Organization: ♥ ♥ ♥

Customer service: ♥ ♥

Cleanliness: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Do they take credit cards? Yep! (They also sell pet licenses for St. Paul pooches and kitty cats.)

While you’re there: Um, well, let me preface this by saying I know next to nothing about St. Paul, BUT, when Mary and I were there last Saturday, we stopped at Swede Hollow Cafe and dang, everything looked awesome. Half the place was digging into caramel rolls the size of a baby’s head, and they also had a decent sammy selection. I had a cubano (fancy term for coffee with milk and brown sugar–news to me, too) and it was sufficiently hot, sugary and caffeinated.

Where it is:809 E. 7th Street, St. Paul

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

Contact: 651.772.8983,

I’ve been a bad blogger, and for that, I am sorry. I had a big presentation at work this morning, and it’s been taking up a lot of energy. Other things that have been keeping me busy? Early a.m. yoga at the Guthrie, seeing these two bands last night at First Avenue, eating obscene amounts of soul food from this place, research disguised as shopping for the June issue of METRO magazine and as usual, dog walking, chores and a healthy dose of goofing off.

Tonight’s plans revolve around putting away some nachos (and a Pacifico or two) with a couple delightful ladies, a weekly tradition I’m fairly obsessed with.  I’m trying a shrimp nacho recipe—I could eat both nachos and shrimps everyday of my life and be happy, but I’m not 100-percent sure I’ll love them together.  [Update: I totally did! These turned out super yummy.] If I can manage to avoid splashing any more pineapple juice onto my just-washed bangs like I did a minute ago, we should be in OK shape. Back to the kitchen I go…



8 thoughts on “store review: animal ark thrift store

  1. I heart you, your blog, and the spicy shrimp nachos. AND just to let you know, “for cute’s sake” is my new favorite phrase!!

  2. I think Animal Ark is one of the places you recommended when I asked about decor… GOTTA check it out now!

    Also, you really work for METRO? If so, Minneapolis (and the blogosphere) is crazy small; I’m just finishing up an internship at Tiger Oak!

    • SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! Who do you intern for–must be Laura, right? Introduce yourself lady, next time you’re here!!

      And yes, you really do need to get yourself over to AA. It’s a magical place!

      • Yep, I am the WBM and MGM intern! I will try to find you the next time I work (Friday morning, and all day Monday), though I don’t know where you’re stationed, because my little hideout is upstairs in that hallway by the bathrooms/sales dept/copy machine :)

  3. You definately have to check out that other space for a look at their furniture, it is classic, vintage, retro, whatever you want to call it, but nothing is marked you have to ask, but the stuff is really nice

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