This afternoon, I found myself needing to waste some time in Falls Church, so I thought I'd give another go to thrift shopping here in the great state of Virginia.
And it was better! It's still not great--it's not Austin and it's not going to be--but it was better! I made actual purchases, at least.
First, I hit Unique (2956 Gallows Rd, Falls Church). Unique is this area's answer to the thrift mega-store. It's a mostly for-profit enterprise, from what I can tell. It's huge--a warehouse--and well-organized. Unfortunately, 99.9% of what is there is crap. When I thrift, I am looking for either new or like-new items at prices much cheaper than they would be new, or vintage or hard-to-fine items I couldn't find new. What I am not looking for is been-used stuff that I probably wouldn't have wanted even if it were new.
That being said, if you're patient, Unique can turn up some worthwhile items, few and far between as they are. The high point sections seem to be the clothes, where I didn't spend much time today. I did browse the ladies' jackets, and found several nice ones. The prices were too high by my reckoning, though--used Old Navy should never cost $10, and no used jacket should be $50 in a thrift store.
But I did come home with a few things. I bought: a set of six blue and white patterned Japanese finger bowls ($.99); a new-in-package set of Emilie Henry ramekins ($4.49); a copy of bell hooks' Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center ($.99); a copy of James Beard's Beard on Bread ($1.41); and a set of green linen napkins that look new ($3.49).
Next, I went further into Falls Church to the Clock Tower Thrift Shop (2860 Annandale Rd, Falls Church). Clock Tower is a non-profit store benefiting "Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS). This is a really tiny store, and it's very crowded. You can barely walk between the racks. However, there are real gems here. I didn't look a lot at the clothes, but the dishes and housewares were full of vintage things I know a collector would love (there was a tea set from the 50s I really wanted to bring home). There were also at least a half dozen nice wool scarves and a big basket of vintage stockings that I'd have been all over if I was a smaller size. However, I was dismayed to see a used jean jacket marked $25. It was Calvin Klein, but come on--that's consignment price, not thrift. Finally, the vintage jewelry section, though it's all cluttered up behind glass and hard to browse, is amazing.
Once again, I managed to pick out a few things to bring home with me (I easily could have brought several more things, but I was trying to be good). The glass pitcher was a bit spendy at $8, but I've been looking for one just like it (that size and heavyweight), so I went for it. The noodle bowl is lovely and was $2. Finally, I was stoked to find new in package, locally hand-made beeswax candles, also $2.
My last stop was just a couple of blocks away from Clock Tower, a store called Joseph's Coat (3022 Annandale Rd, Falls Church). Joseph's Coat is a thrift shop benefiting the Bethany House DV hotline and shelter program. It's a much larger space than Clock Tower, but much smaller than Unique. The first thing I noticed was the stellar book section--best one I've seen here. I recently vowed to stop buying books that I don't for some reason need to own rather than just read (i.e. no fiction unless I really love it, mostly cookbooks, art books, and feminist books), but if I hadn't, I could have gone nuts. The furniture was also quite nice--there was an early 70s slipper chair in great condition there for $69 that I really wanted to bring home (but didn't because Mark would have hated it). Housewares are another strength--lots of full sets of dishes and older glassware. I didn't look closely at the clothes, but my glance turned up a few decent brands and things with tags on them.
It was at Joseph's Coat that I found my favorite score of the day, a bright red tin bread box, for $6. I think it's reproduction and not vintage, but it's super cute, and I've been wanting a box for the half-loaves of bread always cluttered on the top of our fridge. After much hemming and hawing, I also picked up a new condition coffee table book on DaDa. The book was $20, which seemed ridiculous to me for thrift prices, but it's really nice, and I felt slighted for not letting myself buy novels, and I haven't bought any art books in a long time, so it came home with me too.
All in all, a great day of thrifting. The best one I've had since we moved here, and I feel myself getting reinvigorated to do serious, browse-through-all-the-clothes, takes-all-day trips. Stay tuned!