first impression: cool clear water

Processed with VSCOcam with c3 presetThere’s a new secondhand store on the scene and I. Am. So. Smitten. It’s called Cool Clear Water, and though the business went without noticeable signage for months, the storefront full of cowboy-boots caught my eye immediately. (There’s two neon signs now, too, so you can’t miss it!)

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetStopping back a few weeks later, I was beyond impressed with the selection of vintage Western wear, jewelry and boots. Oh my, the boots. Shelf, after shelf, after shelf, after shelf, lined with gloriously preserved vintage cowboys boots for men, women and children.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetOwner Glenn, a 20-year resident of the neighborhood and lifelong cowboy-culture buff who named his store after this song (captured on the sly two pics below), estimates he has 300-plus pairs for sale, making Cool Clear Water the preeminent destination if you’re in the market for a new pair of shitkickers.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetThe store’s stock of snap-front button-downs for men is downright impressive, and includes American-made heritage labels like Ely, Wrangler, Rockmount, Pendleton, Corral West and many more brands unfamiliar to me. The selection is thick and the racks packed tight, so much so that I found myself waiting for my boyfriend to finish browsing, something that in all our years of thrifting together has never ONCE happened before.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetAlso notable: a decently sized assortment of vintage suits, women’s clothes (circle skirts, snap-fronts, blazers), leather motorcycle jackets, cool ’80s and ’90s tees and affordable sterling jewelry and belt buckles, most all of it vintage. Prices aren’t bargain-basement/dirt cheap, but given the standard of quality and high level of curation, I found them to be 100-percent fair. (My hon and I paid $60 for three shirts, one definitely suitable for a dressy occasion, plus a handmade vintage silver and abalone ring for me.)

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetBut don’t just take my word for it, take a look around!

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Coming soon to the space? Guitar lessons upstairs and super-sales on the sidewalk and in the garage (weather dependent). Next time you’re up that way, stop in and take a look!

Where: 1900 Johnson St. Northeast, Minneapolis, MN 55418 (just up from the Quarry!)

Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 11:00 to 7:00
Friday, 11:00 to 6:00
Saturday, 11:00 to 5:00
Sunday, Noon to 4:00

Monday, by appointment (call Glenn at 612.250.6661)

Contact: 612.788.4299;



store review: st. vincent de paul thrift store

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Right off of one of south Minneapolis’ busiest east-west thoroughfares (Lake Street), sits the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store. Truth be told, for the longest time, it was never one of my favorite spots to visit. After one bad experience, I never really wanted to go back, even though it’s practically in my neighborhood. In recent months, with icy roads keeping me closer to home, I gave this store a second chance, and it has since become one of my go-to spots for a quick pop-in.


 Furniture: Upon recent visits, the back room has housed some reasonably priced pieces of furniture, including old highboys, dressers, vanities, headboards, etc., with most of them in very clean, serviceable condition. The concrete floor and overall garage-like vibe of the back room makes me a bit hesitant to buy anything upholstered, but I’d certainly have no qualms about bringing home a table, bookcase or anything in that vein from this store.

 Paper goods: I’m a big fan of vintage stationery and cards, and I’m always impressed by Vinnie’s assortment of cards, packaged stationery sets and the like.

 One-off dishes, glass ware and vases: While I never see too many complete (or even close to complete) sets, I have found several cute plates and glasses. If you’re hunting for vases for a wedding or project, Vinnie’s has you covered there too.

 Picture frames: If you use old frames for DIY projects, photos or art projects, this is the place to go, with super cheap frames in lots of sizes.


 Clothes: Slim selection overall and what’s there seems a little sad. (That said, I did happen upon the cutest, navy and white striped cotton Calvin Klein dress last time I was there, so, I guess you never know.)

Table linens: Another category with a surprisingly slim selection.

 Books: Mostly junky paperbacks and old magazines.

Take a peek around!

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Selection/Variety:  ♥ ♥ ♥

Quality: ♥ ♥ 

Pricing: ♥ ♥ ♥ 

Organization: ♥ ♥

Customer service: ♥ ♥ ♥

Where does money raised at this store go? With a motto of “Neighbors Helping Neighbors,” the Society of St. Vincent de Paul works not only to relieve need, but also to redress the situations that cause it. Advocating the concepts of Christian social justice, the Society believes in the rights and dignity of every individual and the need for equality of opportunity in education and employment. In 2010, Twin Cities Vincentians visited more than 1,900 neighbors in homes and hospitals, providing food, clothing, transportation and emotional comfort.

Do they take credit cards? Yes!

Do they accept donations? Yep, and they’ll even come get it from you!

Pro tip: Check out their monthly sale calendar, available here, for advance notice on tag sales, dollar days and senior discounts.

While you’re in the area: Treat yourself to tacos at any of the nearby mercados. La Alborada is great and Mercado Central also has tons of tasty options.

Where it is: 2939 12th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55423

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; closed on Sunday

Contact: 612.722.7882, Facebook

Have you a fan of this St. Vincent de Paul store? If so, I’d love to hear your take!



first impression: ARC’s value village in new hope

ARC Value Village // New HopeIt was the first day of last week’s cold-snap when I decided to drive over to ARC’s Value Village store in New Hope after work. I didn’t really know what to expect, except honestly, not a whole lot. I’d been underwhelmed when I last visited the store (four years ago, at least). Couple that with the fact that I’m a Richfield location die-hard, I was prepared to be unimpressed. However, after hearing about the store’s expansion and re-opening early last month, I figured it was time to give this shop another shot. And I am so glad I did!

Here’s the scoop: After 20 years in the same location, ARC’s store leadership decided to stay at their existing location and grow the store there, keeping the community of shoppers, donors and volunteers very happy. The subsequent growth is HUGE, expanding the store from 8,000 to 17,500 square feet. Every single department grew (doubling or in some cases, tripling in size!), and to make shopping even more enjoyable, aisles were widened, additional checkout lanes and fitting rooms were built, bigger carts made available and lighting improved. There’s even a donation drive-thru at the back of the building and room for a Merry Thriftmas boutique (two of my favorite features at the Richfield location). Walking in, I truly felt like I was entering a brand-new store!

ARC Value Village expansion

Right off the bat, I was majorly impressed with how organized the departments are. In the book section, for example, all the non-fiction is organized by topic. I love buying books second-hand, but sometimes can’t commit to combing shelf after shelf after shelf, so being able to hone in on whatever section I’m interested in (typically cookbooks, travel and auto-biographies) is a big plus. I went home with Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink and this fun travel book on Minnesota, both in mint condition!

ARC Value Village New HopeOver in the crafts area, instead of everything in a jumble, things are separated by category in bins. So helpful for people like me who thrift for project or craft supplies on the regular!

ARC Value Village New Hope Craft SectionAlso impressive was the selection of framed art. It pains me when thrifts pack art tightly together on shelves, as it’s hard on the frames, but also so annoying to shop. I loved how there were a lot of pretty pieces hanging up, which makes it so much easier to appreciate. This beauty was so tempting!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetSome other nice pieces…

ARC value village new hope The housewares section was spacious, but the selection was pretty slim at the time of my visit. I was looking for containers for candle-making, and I did find a couple, along with a cute little vase.

value village new hopeAlso worth noting is the retro section, comprising a few racks of clothing and some shelves of toys, books, knick-knacks and housewares. The clothes were really picked over and some really iffy in quality, but still, nice to have it separated out, right? And how adorable is this teal Suzy Homemaker play-oven?

Arc Value Village Retro RackBreezing through the clothes, I appreciated the fact they were organized by size. Just another example of how this store is set up with shoppers in mind! The shoe section was big, with lots of options for men, women and children.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetAll in all, I’m super excited to add this store to my regular shopping route, especially considering how close it is to my work. Check it out at 2751 Winnetka Avenue North in New Hope. Like the three other Value Village stores in town, this store is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Happy hunting!



first impression: goodwill in st. louis park

Goodwill St. Louis ParkIt seems that lately, not a month goes by without a Goodwill grand opening happening somewhere in the Twin Cities metro. From Fridley to Roseville, Champlin to Lakeville, new stores are cropping up everywhere, with the most recent addition being a 17,600-square-foot location in St. Louis Park. Opening in mid-November, it didn’t take me long to find a reason to pop over there to take a look around.

Like all the freshly built Goodwill stores, the St. Louis Park location is big, bright and oh-so-very clean, with well-marked, neatly organized sections for men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, housewares and the like.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThough my budget for spending was slim, I spent a good hour or so poking around. The selection at this store definitely skews to the high-end side, with lots of nice labels on the racks (Ann Taylor, Adrienne Vittadini, Ralph Lauren, etc.) and quality books by the boatload. While it was a little lighter on the housewares, accessories and shoes than I expected, more than a few things that caught my eye during my visit. Here are a few of them!

A sparkling, glam ’60s maxi dress (unfortunately sized 10 sizes to small), a mint-condition Donna Hay (the Australian Martha Stewart) cookbook, a sweet-faced ceramic Mary and baby Jesus…

goodwillslp-2Lots and lots of Mara Mi for Target party goodies including garlands (pictured), printable invites, cupcake liners and toppers, photo-booth props, etc. all brand-new in the box, decent-sized sets of both Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries, a half-set of Johnson Brothers china in a floral pattern (I think it was Floral Bouquet, but I’m not certain)…

goodwillslpcollageLots of games and toys, some disposable mini loaf pans (perfect for holiday gifting!) and one of my favorite vintage Bisquick cookbooks.

goodwillslp4Besides being well-stocked and nicely organized, I can’t wrap up this post without commenting on the incredibly kind and patient customer service I both witnessed and experienced at this shop. It staggers me how some shoppers (regulars, no less!) can be so incredibly rude, brusque and unkind to thrift-store employees. During my visit, I saw two instances of not-so-nice behavior on the part of shoppers, and in both occurrences, the employee on the receiving end maintained a helpful, positive and oh-so-very patient attitude. I can’t speak for all of the store’s 30 employees (many of them participants in career training programs), but Torrance, if your boss ever reads this, I hope she or he gives you a big pat on the back (and maybe even a raise).

The St. Louis Park Goodwill is located at 3575 State Highway 100…in layman’s terms, that’s directly behind the SLP Target off of Highway 100, right next to the LA Fitness. The store’s orientation is a little wacky, but this map may help you out. Like all area Goodwill stores, they are open seven days a week: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

To be the first to know about future Goodwill store openings, sign up for their weekly email newsletter!



heads up: weekend linen sale

linen1To say I’m linen-obsessed is an understatement if ever there was one. So you can imagine my delight when I heard the downtown-Minneapolis four metro-area Salvation Army stores (downtown, Bloomington, Burnsville and Fridley) are having a 25%-off linen sale tomorrow and Saturday. Unfortunately for us vintage-linen lovers, only fabrics in the new-goods basement will be on sale at the downtown store; at the other three locations, linens both old and new will be discounted. I’m planning on swinging by Friday in hopes of picking up a tablecloth and some napkins to polka dot.

For a list of store locations, hours and contact info, click here.

Happy hunting!



tablecloth of the month: january

jantableThis month’s tablecloth isn’t actually a tablecloth, but a curtain I found at the Target basement in the downtown Salvation Army store. (Sheets, curtains, tablecloths…a rectangle of fabric’s a rectangle of fabric right?) And since we’re on a big rummy/Phase 10 kick over here, I’ve taken to just leaving the cards and a notebook out in a bowl the table so they’re always handy. And the clementines…well they are just plain delicious.

I hope your January’s are off to wonderful starts so far!



heads up: christmas clearance sale at Arc’s Value Village

tumblr_meoo1bcdRQ1qlirlwo1_500Starting today, all blue-tagged holiday items at Arc’s Value Village stores are 50% off. This special sale runs all the way through December 22, and includes ornaments, cookie tins, serving ware, linens, candles, trees, wreaths, lights, clothing (anyone have an ugly sweater party coming up?) and more. You can read my original review of the Merry Thriftmas boutiques at Value Village here and find the store nearest you here.



Photo source: Vintage Penny Lane