heads up: goodwill’s bridal showcase

weddingshowcaseOn Monday afternoon, I met up with a betrothed blog reader, Sarah, to preview Goodwill MN’s Wedding Showcase. We spent a super fun couple of hours, perusig rack after rack after rack packed with gorgeous gowns—600 in all, in sizes 4 to 28. At first, I erronously assumed that the dresses at this annual event were donated gowns, collected throughout the year, but that is so not the case! Goodwill actually solicits donations from local bridal boutiques and superstores, netting an impressive stash of brand-new gowns, supplemented only in part by once-worn dresses and floor samples. (Bad news for us vintage lovers, but great news for the “regular” population!) A whopping 90 percent of the dresses are priced under $299, including never-been-worn design gowns!

Not only do dresses range in size, but they have a huge array of styles as well. Strapless. Sequined. Beaded. Pleated. Silk. Satin. Princess. Modern. (Some) Vintage. Seriously, if you’re looking for a wedding dress, there will be something for you at this sale. Equally impressive was the stash of bridesmaids (hello prom!), mother-of-the-bride, flower girl (also great for First Communion!) dresses, also available in a rainbow of colors, styles and sizes. Brides looking to get “jacked up” can pick through veils and lacey boleros; there are heaps of slips and crinolines too!

Here are some pro tips, as shared by the event’s Coordinator, Alyson Coleman!

Come early! More than 700 ladies came through the door last year and lines started forming at 8!
For modesty’s sake, wear undies, a bathing suit or bring a slip. Changing rooms, decked out with on-site seamstresses, pedestals and mirrors, are of the group variety.
Be decisive. Dresses purchased at the sale cannot be returned, so come ready to make some hard choices. (Or do as one shopper did last year and buy three dresses!)

High Plains reader Sarah, on the hunt for a non-poufy, sleek and comfortable gown for her July farm wedding, found an entire rack’s worth of dresses to try on (including two gorgeous Vera Wang silk beautifies!), with this beautiful handmade, lace-y 1970s number being the crowd favorite.

photo(63)Pretty darn cute, right?

Here are the deets!

Goodwill’s Bridal Showcase
When: Saturday, February 23, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: 553 Fairview Ave. N., Saint Paul
Are dress previews available? You betcha!
Are credit cards accepted? Yep!



heads up: goodwill’s bridal showcase


Heads up, all you lucky brides-to-be! Goodwill’s Bridal Showcase is happening this Saturday, and it promises to be a good time. Hunt through 2,000+ dresses, including some vintage and designer gowns, priced at $99 and up. (See some sneak peeks of the gowns, ranging in size from 4-22, here.) Bridesmaid and mother-of-the-bride dresses will be available, too, starting at $39. Seamstresses and cleaning pros will be hanging out, offering tips and alteration advice, and suppliers including florists, photographers and photo booth rental companies will be there too, pimping their services. Dressing rooms are communal, so wear underthings you’ll be comfortable being seen in, unless you’re cool with public nakedness, in which case, go you. The sale’s happening this Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m, over at Goodwill’s main office at 553 Fairview Ave. North in St. Paul. Good luck!



store review: the salvation army in frogtown

Salvation Army Thrift Store, Frogtown, St. Paul

I’m not going to lie: the Boss inspired me to stop at this Sal Val on Monday. Ever since I read about a fellow thrifter’s insane Bruce Springsteen concert T-shirt find there, I’ve been more than a little motivated to check it out again. And my goodness, am I glad I did! It turns out, a few days prior to my visit, a vintage shop that had recently closed had donated boxes upon boxes of merchandise to the store. We’re talking super primo designer vintage, most of it from the ’50s and ’60s. Anyway, as you can imagine….a major bonanza ensued, as evidenced by my overflowing cart.

After I stuffed my cart with vintage, I spent the better part of the next hour going through the rest of the shop.


The store is large and well laid-out, two things I really appreciate.

  While they don’t have as big of a selection as the downtown Minneapolis Salvation Army, they have a more than decent amount of nice furniture and lamps. I saw a well-crafted coffee table for $10! Also spotted? A couple cute vintage lawn chairs and a pair of hanging bird cages I’m totally kicking myself for not buying.

The shop has an above average collection of framed artwork, including (at the time of my visit) some larger scale mid-century pieces, some cool Native American powwow photos and some small kitschy pieces from the ’70s.

  The prices are really reasonable. Over the past year, prices at nearly every Salvation Army have gone up substantially, but this store is an exception. For example, I didn’t pay more than $3 a piece for any of the vintage I snagged, and some of it was discounted by 75% thanks to the tag sale they had running.

The service was exceptionally sweet and patient. While I was waiting in line, I saw the manager and cashier address two fairly difficult, argumentative customers with poise and kindness.

And last but not least, they have a dedicated vintage section. Which makes this girl’s life a whole heck of a lot easier!


The couple times I’ve visited, I’ve noticed that the housewares section has really slim pickin’s. If you’re looking for Pyrex, dishes, knick knacks or bake ware, you might not have the best of luck here.

It’s not super clean, a fact I can overlook in every thrift if the prices are rock bottom, as they are here.

The vintage goodies (numbering in the dozens), need laundering and steaming before they make their Internet debut, but here are a few other things I found on Monday that got me excited.

A complete, 16-volume set of Family Circle’s DIY Encylopedia from 1973 ($8). (Incomplete sets retail for around $50 on Etsy.)

I cannot wait to dig into these babies, you have no idea! Here are a few of my favorite covers…

I also picked up a couple random pieces of framed art. We’ve had a couple customers at Mighty Swell request more big-eyed boy/girl ’70s art, so I picked this up (even though it sort of creeps me out).

This photo of the Dump Sweet Dump (50 cents) mirror is too funny not to share! Yes I am wearing a wool sweater in June…it’s Minnesota!

After purchasing this cap-sleeved ditty (75 cents), the number of red and white gingham shirt I own is now up to three! Yikes!

Go here to find: Clothing (modern and vintage), art work, furniture, photo frames, books.

Selection/Variety: ♥ ♥ ♥

Quality: ♥ ♥ ♥

Pricing: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Organization: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Customer service: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Cleanliness: ♥ ♥ ♥

Stroller-friendly? Yes!

Do they take credit cards? Yes!

While you’re there: There’s a ton to do over in this ‘hood! I love Ethiopian food and Fasika down on Snelling is one of the best spots in town. Go with a friend and split the veggie sampler. It’s nourishing, healthy and a total bargain at $14. If you’re in the mood for more thrifting, try digging for treasures at the Goodwill outlet at 2505 University Avenue or visit the plain old regular Goodwill store over at 553 Fairview. I also love finding stuff I never knew I needed at Ax-Man Surplus on University. That store is so fun!

Where it is: 572 University Avenue West

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Contact: 651.789.0099, Facebook



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, www.animalarkshelter.org

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…