ThriftStyle’s second post in our weekful of thrift shop profiles (leading up to National Thrift Shop Day on Aug. 17) is a look at some of Pittsburgh’s compelling stores.
People of all ages, incomes and occupations are drawn to thrift stores. Wouldn’t you have loved to accompany Pittsburgh’s native son, artist Andy Warhol, as he and comedian Robin Williams went thrift shopping together on April 17, 1979?
We know the date because Warhol kept records of nearly every penny he spent and every person he met. Andy and Robin did their shopping in New York’s East Village, but Warhol acquired his love of thrift stores in his hometown of Pittsburgh.
We’re happy to report that thrifting remains a flourishing industry in that city. We visited five stores and just scratched the surface.
One convenient stop is Thriftique, a nonprofit run by the National Council of Jewish Women that’s been in various locations throughout the city for the last 75 years. It’s now in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. (Motto: “Thrift Different.”) The store supports local families with its Back 2 School Store, Project Prom and a Suit Yourself voucher program. In mid-April, it holds a major Spring Thrift & Designer sale.
Luckily for thrift shoppers, right next door is a large, updated Goodwill and there’s plenty of free parking in a front lot that adjoins both stores.
Thriftique uses different colored plastic threads that hold its hangtags to show shoppers what’s on sale. Green and blue plastic means 50 percent off; red 25 percent off. There’s a lot of volume coming in and out of this store, hence the bargain $2 racks up front and an immense rack of $5 prom and formal dresses. We scored a $5 navy and pink flowered jersey prom dress for a friend and a useful white sheer windbreaker, perfect for keeping in your suitcase for rainy days on the road, for $14.
Although all sizes are available, we found an abundance of small sized garments. There’s a designer goods corner, but the prices were high for thrift — $34 for a tags-on jacket from Chico’s, for example. Its large furniture section has lovely couches and chairs at very good prices.
Next door, at Goodwill, we were charmed by the 3-D cowboy sign encouraging shoppers to “round up” their purchases to the next dollar. It’s a practice Goodwill promotes at all its stores, a painless way to further support its worthy mission of helping with job training and employment.
We found a Liz Claiborne red and white striped sweater and a sweet white cardigan, each for $4.99. A nice J. Jill short wale corduroy shirt was $3.97.
Pittsburgh is a city of neighborhoods and vintage storefronts. Our next stop was Clothes Minded, a funky for-profit store with a small inventory, and some costumes thrown in for good measure. (Homer Simpson heads, anyone?)
We couldn’t resist a black cropped jacket festooned with white beading for $14 for a friend who lives in black clothing and is drawn to vintage wear.
Like many Pittsburgh neighborhoods, the storefronts are a mix of architectural marvels and direct marketing. Across the street from Clothes Minded is Armand’s Bar, which advertises it is “smoker friendly.”
Hospital auxiliaries have been a backbone of thrift shopping for decades. The Clothes Line, run for the benefit of Magee-Womens Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, welcomes you with full racks and uneven pricing, which means there are bargains to be found. Volunteers staff the shop, which is in the Bloomfield neighborhood, just east of our first thrift stops in Lawrenceville. There also is a large children’s section with many high-quality items with original tags on.
Our final stop was another neighborhood stalwart, East End Community Thrift, where the modest offerings are split between clothes and housewares. It is in the Garfield area, just north of Bloomfield. It was founded in 1993 and is set up for needy clients to shop free with vouchers provided by charities. It operates out of a property owned by the Thomas Merton Center, named for the Trappist monk and theologian.
We were able to fill a Goodwill-acquired picnic basket with a full range of matching plates, bowls, mugs, silverware, frying pan, saucepan, cooking utensils and can opener for $18 for a young friend moving into a new apartment in the city. Now that’s thrift shopping in Pittsburgh!
Thriftique, 125 – 51st St., Pittsburgh, PA. 412-742-4951. Open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday 11a.m. to 4 p.m.
Goodwill, 125-51st St., Pittsburgh, PA. 412-696-0205. Open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Clothes Minded, 4740 Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh, PA. 412-960-0246. Open Monday though Saturday noon to 8 p.m.; Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
The Clothes Line – 4804 Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh, PA. 412-621-2498. Open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
East End Community Thrift, 5123 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh. Tel. 412-361-6010. Hours: Tues-Fri. 10-4, Sat. noon – 4 pm.