first impression: the salvation army family store in st. cloud

The first juicy honeycrisp in fall. A front-and-center spot at your favorite band’s concert. A dream job.  Sometimes the best things in life are worth waiting for, and I’m adding the new Salvation Army Family Thrift Store in St. Cloud to that list. I first learned of the plans for the new store last February and have patiently been waiting for details on the opening to surface. On Saturday, at long last, the store opened and oh my goodness, she’s a beaut.

Housed in what used to be Hoye Home Furnishings, this store is mammoth. I’d even venture to guess that it’s the largest Salvation Army thrift in the greater Minnesota area. It’s practically cavernous! Here’s the view from the front of the women’s clothing section.

The racks were packed full, but not to the point that made them impossible to shop. Sections were organized nicely too, by category and then color. This rack’s always an eye-catcher when Thanksgiving’s around the corner.

The shoe racks were packed full too, but again, super organized and neat.

The back of the store housed humongous electronics (flat-screen TVS galore!), furniture, holiday decor and housewares sections, including some nicely priced antique-y stuff in glass cases. (Don’t overlook the jewelry—it’s all back there too, some in cases some on round racks.) This impractically gorgeous pink china cup and saucer set had to be mine.

I successfully resisted this set of six stainless steel mugs. They were so hefty and in mint condition—perfect for Moscow mules in the summer.

They also had a huge section of scratch-and-dent home goods, cast-offs from Target. There was a good amount of serving ware, including some really nice drink dispensers. I picked up the 12-piece Pyrex set pictured below for a song! ($11.99 to be exact; retail price hovers around $30.)

A few more quickie impressions: I have picky standards when it comes to thrift-store fitting rooms and I found the set-up here comfortable. There’s roomy, and more importantly, clean stalls, and lots of big (clean) mirrors. Also, compared to the metro-area Sal Vals, prices here were fantastic. Think $3.99 for a vintage wool skirt, $2.99 for blouses, $4.99 for boots, $6.99 for a stunning wool Fashionbilt coat from the 1960s. At first when I saw the plaid I was all like, “this is too much!,” but once I slipped it on, I was done.

All in all, I had wonderful experience and left wholly impressed with the store. I hope to post more about some of my finds soon, but this should give you an idea of how well I did. (!!!)

If you’re ever up in St. Cloud, I’d highly recommend a visit. To make your thrifting experience up there easy as pie, I gave my St. Cloud Thrifting Treasure Map a quick update, reflecting the addition of the Sal Val and noting the new (and improved!) location of the Treasure Chest. (Click View Larger Map or the link above to get the details, including hours, phone numbers and links to all my favorite stores up thatta way.)

Please check out the original post to nab links to my favorite places for a bite in St. Cloud. Because thrifting’s not nearly as fun if you’re starving, am I right?

And now it’s your turn! Did you get any shopping in over the weekend? Have you visited any new stores that’ve knocked your socks off? Either way, fill me in!



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



store review: hidden treasures thrift store

Hidden Treasures Thrift Store

Overall, this strip mall shop falls into the category of stores I’ll visit if I’m in the area and have a minute, but rarely do I make a trip solely there to thrift. It’s a decent place, don’t get me wrong, but I’m usually looking for clothes, and after many a visit to Hidden Treasures, I’ve yet to buy anything for my closet or my feet. I have, however, seen super deals on furniture ($3 for a solid wooden coffee table! A huge, huge mid-century desk for $9!) and think they have a stand-up collection of dishes and housewares. They frequently have sales (this week, for example, you can save 50 percent on all winter coats, hats, mittens and boots) and every week, they have a special silent auction that frequently features antiques and valuable electronics. The money raised here goes to support a handful of good causes including Masterworks of Minnesota,  Care of Creation and The Garden of Hope.

Here are a couple goodies I’ve found at Hidden Treasures…

Top to bottom: An sweet brass deer ($2), Catalougue, A Book of Cat Names (50 cents) and the prettiest butterfly potholder I ever did see ($1).

Go here to find: Vintage dishes, books, serviceable kitchen utensils, crazy affordable furniture

Selection/Variety: ♥ ♥

Quality: ♥ ♥ ♥

Pricing: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Organization: ♥ ♥ ♥

Customer service: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Cleanliness: ♥ ♥ ♥

Do they take credit cards? Yep!

Other helpful hints: Sign up for their e-newsletter and be the first to know about sales and special events.

While you’re there: Admire the strip mall! It was, after all, the first one built in Minnesota, owned and financed by the famed Batista family. Yes, the Cuban Basitstas. Like the folks who ran Cuba before Castro took over. Once you’re done, eat at Dairy Queen, return some books to the library, pick up some chai at Tea Source or fancy olive oil at Annona Gourmet.

Where it is: St. Anthony Village Shopping Center, 2915 Pentagon Drive, St. Anthony

Hours: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Contact: 612.706.3223,

Happy shopping!



savers’ coupon calendar

True story: I inadvertently shoplifted from Savers today. Holy embarrassment, right?

Here’s how it happened: I stopped here quick over my lunch break to drop off a few bags of clothing that had been purged from my closet the night before. While I was waiting for the cashier to hook me up with my donation receipt and coupon, I saw this snazzy calendar sitting by the register and whoop, into my purse it goes. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized it said “$2.99” in the corner. Ummmm, oops!

Anyhow, to make some kind of amends for my crime, I thought I’d fill you in on the sweet deals you’ll find. Because believe you me, you aren’t going to bring it home due to it’s gorgeous photos or inspiring design. You want this calendar because it’s chock-full of coupons that’ll save you dough all the way through to 2012.

Here’s a month-by-month rundown…

February: Buy any four items and get the fifth item of equal or lesser value FREE
March: Buy one item at regular price, get a second item of equal or lesser value FREE
April: Save 20% on your purchase when you donate two bags or boxes
May: Save $5 on your purchase of $25+
June: Save $10 on your purchase of $30+
July: Buy any four items, get a fifth item of equal or lesser value FREE
August: Buy any two summer-wear items and get a third one FREE
September: Save 30% on your purchase of used merchandise when you buy $50+ of new Halloween merchandise
October: Save 20% on your purchase when you donate two boxes or bags
November: Save 30% on your purchase of used merchandise when you buy $30+ of new merchandise
December: Save 30% on your purchase of used holiday merchandise
January 2012: Save $3 on your purchase of $10+

I’m most pumped about the coupons for March, May, June and December. What is up with November’s savings offer? Take 30% when I buy $30 or more worth of new merchandise? Who the heck buys new stuff at Savers? Not me!

Anyway, even if that month’s a total dud, if you’re a regular shopper Savers, you should pick one of these babies up pronto. They’re available through the month of January, while supplies last. And now, I shall cross my fingers that this little blog post saves me from any awful karmic retribution. If you see a tweet about me getting a parking ticket or burning my nachos tonight, you’ll know why I’m being punished!



things i thrifted yesterday

Hi all!

Yesterday, I braved the snow & and slippery roads to hit some thrifts. Here are a few of the things I found…
The prices ranged from 50 cents to $2 on these, btw.

♥ A bright round crazy-quilted circle made from vintage fabric, found at the bottom of a bin full of doilies, random cloth napkins, etc. This little beauty promptly found a home on my dining room table.

♥ A couple yards of this charming fabric. I love the combination of the black polka dots with the grey, pink and green roses. Not sure what I’m going to do with it just yet.

♥ And last but not least, the most comfortable pair of floral, long-underwear leggings. Perfect for wearing on a lazy, cold snowy Sunday.

Did you all thrift this weekend? Find anything awesome?

Anyway, I wish you all wonderful Sundays! I have to dash and get ready to watch my favorite team stomp the Vikings. (Fingers crossed!)




Psst! Did y’all know that you our local Salvation Army thrifts have an e-newsletter? Well, they do. And if you sign up to get it, you’ll be the first to know about new store openings, changes in hours and upcoming sale events. The icing on the cake? Most dispatches also come with a 25% off coupon! Lah-dee-dah!

All you have to do is enter your email, name and zip code.

Hop on over here to sign up.



store review: unique thrift store in st. paul

Unique Thrift Store, St. Paul


Purses: Most every Unique, this one included, have heaps and heaps of purses and bags. You can almost always  find an old worn-in Coach satchel or bag there, too, priced, on average, between $15-20.

Vintage clothes: Vintage clothes are separated out from the rest of the clothing and given their own section in both the men’s and women’s areas. I’ve found some really cute pieces at this Unique—skirts, cardigans, shoes, coats. It’ll also be worth your while to peruse the non-vintage clothing, as many times I stumble upon a darling piece from the ’60s that just wasn’t ID’d as vintage.

Jewelry: Like the Unique in North Minneapolis, this one, too has a big selection of jewelry. I always find something I want to take home here—a couple weeks ago I got a turquoise and silver feather ring for $14.

Vintage vinyl: Up front near the check-out is a box of vintage records. I know nothing about record collecting, but there looked to be some nice quality albums in there, starting at $3.


House wares: For such a big store, I hardly ever find housewares or Pyrex to come home with me. They do have a  lot of utilitarian stuff—pots, pans, bags of silverware—if you need kitchen basics for cheap.

Furniture: Slim pickins. Enough said!

Here are a couple of my favorite finds from past trips to this Unique…

Brand new Minnetonka moccasins, size 8.5…

Impeccable white and gray Jordache faux fur coat…

Aforementioned sterling silver and turquoise ring…


Selection/Variety: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Quality: ♥ ♥ ♥

Pricing: ♥ ♥

Organization: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Customer service: ♥ ♥ ♥

Cleanliness: ♥ ♥ ♥

Do they take credit cards? Yep! They do not, however, accept checks.

Will they accept returns or exchanges? No. Trust me, I tried once. Not a fun experience.

Other helpful hints: You NEED one of these.

This handy little card will net you 25 percent off every single Friday. Sweet, right? You’ll also receive coupons ($10 off sometimes!) and alerts regarding sales, via email. Sign up (it’s free!) at the front of the store.

Where it is: 1657 Rice Street, Saint Paul (corner of Rice and Larpenteur)

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Contact: 651.489.5083

I hope you all have had lovely Wednesdays! I’m off to do a walk-through of a potential venue for the December Mighty Swell sale, and then check out the newly remodeled Stastiu’s, now known as Stanley’s Northeast Bar Room, with the very lovely Angie.