Thrift Store Confidential: Spotlight on Seattle!

Family obligations found TSC in the Emerald City recently; Seattle reminds me of New York in that each neighborhood is its own little city, each one surrounded by breathtaking scenery and fitting a particular mood.  The recycling and community programs would make Al Gore weep with joy, the food is good, the coffee strong, and the people open and lovely.

My niece Danielle took me on a day trip to a few fantastic stores for, ahem, research.. of course with plenty of mind-blowingly good coffee in between.


We began at Goodwill on 8th Avenue in Ballard.  This is a GIGANTIC store, with more furniture than I’ve seen in a good long time.  We were there nearly an hour and still only managed to hit about 1/3 of the store!  There is a center section which contains more “boutique” or higher-end items, which range from BeBe to Banana.  They have an astonishing assortment of shoes, jeans, shirts and blazers, and it’s a great place to go for outerwear.  A J Crew wool peacoat in perfect condition was $7.99!  In all, because of the sheer square footage of the place, you’ll most likely find at least something that strikes your fancy!

Moving right along, we hit the University District, and stopped for coffee at The Ugly Mug, a fantastic, quirky little independent coffee joint.  I don’t know why it struck me in the sweet spot that there’s a mason jar of brown sugar next to the cream, but between that, the art on the walls and the comfy sofas, it’s become my new standard for what a coffee shop should be.


University Avenue is host to some (if not more) fantastic second-hand, vintage and consignment shops.  We had a chance to hit three of them, and my only regret is not having more time to stay and snoop out more bargains!


I’ve been fans of these genius shops since my days in Denver.  The idea is that you take in gently used fashion-forward items, which their keen-eyed employees will scour for quality and resale potential.  You then have a choice: either you receive a small bit of cold hard cash for your stuff, OR, they’ll give you a healthy dose of store credit.  Either way, you’re going to love this place. It’s seriously like shopping in your favorite sister’s closet.  Tops, dresses, jackets, SHOES, accessories, bags – the whole dang nine yards.  And their sale rack pretty well can’t be beat!

I have been on a hunt for an authentic motorcycle jacket with a tab collar for so long I’ve nearly given up.  I even (gasp) tried to go retail for it, as I know it will be an indespensible item come fall.  After staring at a ticket that read $899.00 for a very long time, I became more determined than ever to find my little beauty in the hallowed halls of a thrift store.

BAM! BUFFALO EXCHANGE TO THE RESCUE!  Not only did I find my perfect, gonna-be-with-me-forever jacket, it was exactly $55.00.  Gadzooks!  I got so giddy I picked up a tremendously cute little clutch at the same time.  My niece grabbed two hot dresses, we tried on some retro chunky shades while waiting in line, and we headed for the door, totally satisfied.



Just when we thought it was safe to head back to the car, we spy Red Light, a fabulously funky vintage joint chockablock with fun costume pieces, a full selection of Leg Avenue fishnets, some new trendy items, and rack upon rack of hand-picked little vintage numbers that, for a brief moment, made me want to start a new life and open a rockabilly bar.  The adorable girl behind the counter was Bettie Page incarnate.  (I get such a thrill from seeing vintage clothing mixed with tattoos and piercings – it’s Warhol in the flesh).  We didn’t end up buying anything at Red Light, but the adventure in rummaging through so many square feet of funky fabulosity was well worth the trip.  Highly recommend this place for tops and dresses (especially maxis, which they seem to be brimming with) and fantastic vintage shoes and handbags.

Goofing @ Red Light


Now THIS place had me at 50% off.  Old school C&W on the speakers, well-lit, with a zany, freewheeling vibe that really hit the spot.  It was here that I found my buttery, beautiful SECOND leather jacket for $27.00.  They had so many it was difficult to choose just one, but this one had just the right balance of chic and pseudo-ironic Western mythology.

Good to note that once or twice a year, these folks have a designer bag sale, with “authentic” bags hitting a price ceiling of about $60.  The lovely boy at the counter told me that the last sale had about 100 women lined up around the block before opening and that they “tore this place to hell!”  Apparently they’re going to try another sale like this one before the holidays, so buckle up!


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  • Any fool can spend money. It takes intelligence, creativity and bravery to get what you want at the price you can reasonably afford.
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