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!)
♥ 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…
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.
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.
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!