Yes, yes, everyone loves Value Village. Goodwilld is a decent company. The folks at Salvation Army believe they’re doing God’s work. But if you’re ignoring the small-business thrift stores, you’re missing out on some real gems. The smaller spots tend to be better curated and staffed, and become more of a community staple for regular visitors. They can also be cheaper, especially as big-box thrift shops like Value Village shift toward selling new items, like they do on Halloween.
Evergreen Thrift Store
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Evergreen doesn’t have the biggest selection of stuff, and some of their items can feel a little random (especially in the back of the store, with a smattering of kitchenware, tools and hardware). But it’s one of the most reliable, personable and fun stores on this list. You’ll often find the owner, Nick (or his mom on some weekends), standing behind the counter promoting some new charity, usually with an environmental angle. For a month in 2019, for example, they gave out baby trees to literally every customer, free of charge. Nick’s also big on social media: not only does he update the shop’s Facebook page daily with new finds, but he also narrates hilariously overlong video of people stealing from his store. The ultimate social media public shaming.
Vincent’s Thrift Store
Down the road from Evergreen is Vincent’s, another charitable thrift shop run by the St. Vincent de Paul organization. Prices here can be as little as a dollar per item during sale times, and the staff are pretty eager and friendly to chat. While they used to have a decent selection of furniture, they’ve shifted toward strictly used clothes and housewares in the COVID era. On the plus side, they’re able to offer a high-quality and expansive selection.
The Nearly New Store
This charming Queen Street staple is run by volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Niagara Falls. While the prices are excellent and the service is friendly, the selection is a little slim, especially for anything other than women’s clothing. Nonetheless, it’s worth popping in during any Queen Street visit.