The thrill of ﬁnding that perfect outﬁt in a sea of previously loved clothing is one of the greatest thrills there is. And on this well-traveled path to uncovering that diamond in the rough without breaking the bank – and without sacriﬁcing great style – the answer is simple; shopping vintage and celebrating second hand.
Whether you crave incense infused vintage shops housing platform boots and the best of the ‘70s or a highly styled luxury consignment boutique ﬁlled to the brim with last season’s gently worn favourites that excites your heart, the Niagara Region has a thrift or vintage shop speciﬁcally for you.
Catering to a wide array of styles, age demographics and tastes, this diverse collection of stores within the region has helped the city to gain its reputation as a second hand haven; calling to shoppers who not only love the thrill of the hunt but to those searching for that truly unique piece that is bound to set apart their wardrobe from the big box donned rest. So if you love being thrifty, rocking outside of the box style and the hunt is your favourite part of shopping, our thrifting guide to some of the Niagara Region’s best kept secrets will be your map to a truly unique shopping experience.
210 Glendale Ave, St. Catharines
Walking into Plato’s Closet is like foraging through your cool big sister’s closet; think silk Banana Republic shift dresses with the original tags, multi-colour Longchamp bags, lightly worn leather riding boots and designer blouses, sweaters and more jewellery than you could physically wear. The store is a structured sea of designer and name brand labels. Unlike most traditional thrift stores, Plato’s is simple and organized by garment and size and has four clearly marked departments: men’s, women’s, accessories and athletics. This simple layout makes ﬁnding that new perfect garment fairly uncomplicated – and very unintimidating to those new to thrift shopping and hoping to create a one-of-a-kind look.
Common items to be found include popular youth and adult brands J-Crew, Boathouse, H&M, American Eagle, Aritzia, Under Armour and almost everything else in between at up to 70 per cent off the regular retail price. Items can be commonly found starting at ﬁve dollars and moving up from there – with very few every day wear pieces travelling over that $25 dollar mark.
Alongside these racks, Plato’s also features an out of reach designer section which includes high end pieces such as Fossil watches, coach handbags, certiﬁed sport franchise hats and other exclusive designer items at hundreds of dollars off retail.
OUT OF THE PAST
340 St Paul St, St. Catharines
Vintage clothing lovers rejoice, you’re in luck in Niagara. One of the only stores where you can score a ‘90s tattoo choker alongside a Ramones t-shirt and a 1960’s rufﬂed tuxedo shirt, Out of the Past is a haven to all those celebrating the fashion, body jewellery and hosiery from the decades passed. Out of the Past hordes all sorts of one-of-a-kind treasures for both men and women from ﬂoor to ceiling and every spare free inch in between within their St. Paul street home.
Some eclectic stock staples only to be found amongst their merchandise include twisted cartoon adorned t-shirts, ‘50s housewife circle skirt dresses, traditional ugly Christmas sweaters, Hawaiian button ups and vibrant patterned and tie-dyed everything.
Prices range greatly and unique pieces can come with a hefty price tag; but all clothing is in near perfect condition. Out of the Past is also renowned for their sidewalk sale racks and front of house bargains – so make sure to ask the employee on hand where you should look for a deal.
Hint before you venture in: don’t casually wander in without time to spare. There is so much to look at that it is easy to get overwhelmed and miss out on that perfect metal buckle pair of pants or motorcycle boots your wardrobe needs.
CANADIAN CLOTHING EXCHANGE
2763, Stevensville Rd, Fort Erie
A greener way to shop, the Canadian Clothing exchange has been built on an eco-friendly platform that encourages upcycling your clothes and reducing the waste we create by ﬂipping our wardrobes each season. But the Canadian Clothing Exchange does not believe great style should be sacriﬁced when you commit to reducing your carbon footprint. Focused on extending the life of each piece of lightly worn clothing, this resale location is proving that thrift shops are better than traditional retail stores in more ways than simply the green way.
Focused on the latest styles for men and women at no more than 12 to 18 months old, they offer their customers a wide variety of like-new trendy designer clothing, shoes, jewellery and hats at greatly reduced prices – up to 70 percent off the original retail ticket. Organised by colour and size thrift shopping is made even easier to ﬁnd what you’re looking for efﬁciently and without disappointment.
600 Ontario St, St. Catharines
Find it. Love it. Own it.
It is a simple tune at Consigning Women – a luxury fashion consignment store in St. Catharines that specializes in the resale of brand new designer women’s fashions and boutique merchandise. Redeﬁning the sometimes scoffed at word used, Consigning Women believes the term consignment has nothing to do with the condition of an item. All merchandise is lightly used – if not used at all – and retails at a fraction of the price to mirror that use.
All about that high fashion label, you will not find fast fashion or common, mass produced retail apparel within their store. And although this means their fashions come with a much higher price tag than the average consignment store – items range from $100 – $2,000 dollars – the savings on the original retail price still makes for something to write home about.
Consigning women allows shoppers to ease their way into thrifting by showcasing an online inventory of their one-of-a-kind items through their website; helping women get a feel for the store and understand the price points and merchandise before they head out to scour the racks.
Items commonly found on their website include iconic accessories and pieces including but not limited to Tiffany and Co bead bracelet, Dior sunglasses, Hermes silk scarves, Burberry totes and Armani wraps. All luxury products are unique and have guaranteed authenticity.
THRIFTING DO’S + DON’TS – How to Uncover Your New Favourite Bargain Buys
Vintage shopping does not come naturally to all of us. It is a hobby that can be intimidating, time consuming and discouraging while taking years to master; especially if you aren’t mentally equipped with the right mindset and preparedness to dig through countless pilled sweaters and outdated jeans before you strike gold. Fear not amateur thrifters; we’ve got all the tips you need to hunt the racks with a solid strategy. Pair these tips with optimism and determination and that twenty dollar bill in your pocket will all of a sudden be valued at much, much more.
- Don’t expect to love everything: Just like venturing into the mall, you’re bound to see plenty of items you would never dream of wearing. Just keep digging.
- Don’t set your sights on a single item: It is easy to develop tunnel vision when you have a speciﬁc piece you are dying to add to your wardrobe. Try to keep your eyes open so as not to miss out on another great ﬁnd you may have otherwise overlooked.
- Do try things on: Hangers can be deceiving; especially when they are tucked away on a crowded bar with 500 other shirts. If a tailored pair of pants grabs your eye, try it on; make sure you actually love it before you take it home.
- Don’t get swayed by fancy labels: It is easy to be swept away by a designer label with a low price tag. Don’t let yourself be blinded by the name; take time to ask yourself if you really like the item or just the prestige that comes along with it.
- Do give yourself time to look: Don’t treat a thrift shopping excursion like any other day of shopping. Allow yourself enough time to thoroughly browse the racks and try things on. Professional thrifters are not born in a single day.
By Gabrielle Tieman