The Universe of Thrift Shops

In this week that contains National Thrift Shop Day, it’s fascinating to see how the resale universe is expanding. Years ago, the category was pretty much defined by  hospital auxiliary thrift shops and big national nonprofits — Goodwill, St. Vincent de Paul, DAV and The Salvation Army.

But in the past decade or so, the thrift world has exploded. There are the online thrift platforms, including new entries such as ThredUp and Vinted, and the online versions of the national nonprofits. There are any number of local consignment chains, such as The Snooty Fox in Cincinnati and My Sister’s Closet in southern California and Arizona. There are newer national for-profit chains, such as Plato’s Closet, Clothes Mentor and Buffalo Exchange. And there are lots and lots of one-off thrifts, some specializing in vintage wear, some carving out a high-end consignment niche, others focusing only on children’s clothing or menswear.

Kidding Around crop

Atomic Garage

When Allison moved back to Des Moines, IA, this summer after being gone for 18 years, she discovered that the city was a sterling example of the diversification and expansion of the thrift world. There were so many new shops and expansions of older shops that she is still working her way through all of them. The list below lists only SOME of the many stellar thrifting stops in the metro area. In no particular order, they are:

Barbara’s Consignment Boutique, 5601 Hickman Rd., #1, Des Moines, IA 50310. 515/274-1935. A mainstay that’s been open for 48 years. Run by a mother-daughter team. Well organized and well priced.

ReStyle Trendy Resale, 7662 Hickman Rd., Windsor Heights, IA 50324. 515/276-4525. Nicely displayed clothing and accessories for the entire family, at this well-stocked, locally-owned shop.


Worn, a Modern Resale Boutique, 835 42nd St. (The Shops at Roosevelt), Des Moines, IA 50312. 515/255-9247. Designer and interesting higher-end women’s clothing in mint condition.

Worn exterior

Worn exterior closeup

Kidding Around, 10201 University Ave., Clive, IA 50325. 515/225-6330. Large store with clothing for babies to teens, with some maternity clothing and baby equipment. Charming displays and top-notch merchandise.

KA baby items

Atomic Garage, 129 Fifth St., West Des Moines, IA (Valley Junction) 50265. 515/274-8787. Vintage men’s and women’s clothing, with an emphasis on the 60s onward. Terrific selection of jewelry, scarves, purses – with racks and racks of items available to rent.

Goodwill – Six large stores, one outlet store and a thriving online sales platform (shop  The Urbandale store at 4520 N.W. Urbandale Dr. (515/270-6631) has a large drive-up area where employees meet you at your car and load donations into wheeled bins. Handy! The outlet is at 6345 S.E. 14th St., Des Moines, IA 50320. 515/285-5454. There are two West Des Moines stores: 1600 Valley West Dr. (515/225-1908) and 6630 Mills Civic Parkway (515/402-4180). The Johnston store at 5355 N.W. 86th St. (515/402-4169) adjoins Goodwill’s large career training center and day services building. A south Des Moines location is at 3333 S.E. 14th St. (515/287-5578), and the east side store is at 3251 E. Euclid Ave. (515/265-6650).

Drive up
The drive-up donation bay at Goodwill’s Urbandale store.
GW online
Items to be offered for sale online at shop

The Salvation Army – five large stores. Downtown at 133 E. Second St., Des Moines, IA 50309. 515/243-4277.  Near Merle Hay Mall at 4353 Merle Hay Rd., Des Moines, IA 50310. 515/278-2800.  In Clive at 9997 University Ave., Clive, IA 50325. 515/224-3945. On the east side at 105 E. Euclid Ave., Des Moines, IA 50313. 515/243-0308. On the south side at 4620 S.E. 14th St., Des Moines, IA 50315. 515/953-7451.

Salvation Army
The Merle Hay Road Salvation Army store

HCI Giving Tree, 3330 100th St., Urbandale, IA 50322. 515/270-2414. Open since 2010, this nonprofit shop benefits patients in hospice care. A good selection of clothing, and especially strong in housewares and gift items.

Many Hands Thrift Market, 2900 S.E. Grimes Blvd., Grimes, IA 50111. 515/218-6398. Proceeds go to mission projects in Haiti and elsewhere. New home decor items as well as donated clothes, furniture and housewares.

Many Hands exterior

Many Hands Haiti

Encore Thrift Shop, Two locations of large thrifts that benefit the food, shelter and recovery services of Hope Ministries: 4640 Merle Hay Rd., Urbandale, IA 50322. 515/262-0876 and 500 E. Army Post Rd., Des Moines, IA 50315. 515/777-7394.

Stuff Etc., 8700 Hickman Rd., Clive, IA 50325. 515/251-8408. One of a chain of seven consignment stores in Iowa with everything from furniture to housewares to books, and a large selection of clothing.

Stuff dressing rooms

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