Vic­toria Mar­shall tried the shoe section at Hillsdale Com­munity Thrift. Vic­toria Mar­shall | The Col­legian

Growing up in Los Angeles, I wit­nessed people thrifting to buy a per­son­ality. Maybe this has some­thing to do with the fact that in the enter­tainment industry, there are no stable per­son­al­ities. I never liked this. You should pick clothing based on your per­son­ality and what you like. And thrifting makes this so easy, as you can buy a whole closet-worth of clothing for a fraction of its normal price. So not only is thrifting great for high­lighting your per­son­ality, but it is also util­i­tarian. 

Despite being a sea­soned thrifter and also a senior at Hillsdale College, I have never been to any of the thrift stores Hillsdale boasts. I set out to change that this weekend when a friend gra­ciously agreed to drive me to Hillsdale Com­munity Thrift, Sal­vation Army (or “Sal Val,” as the locals call it), and Hot Deals. 

Our first des­ti­nation was Hillsdale Com­munity Thrift, the smallest of the bunch, but closest to campus. I’d say this store had the old-town-hidden-gem-vibe, which made the place endearing and cute. The employees there were also the nicest, coming up to me from time to time and saying, “Need any help, hun?” Com­munity Thrift was also the busiest of the thrift stores I visited. Children were running up and down the aisles laughing, people had to push past each other with their bulky goods in the small space, and the line for checkout was con­sid­erably long. On a Sat­urday morning, this was appar­ently the place to be.

If you’re looking for goodies to dec­orate your off-campus house or dorm room, Hillsdale Com­munity Thrift is where to go. The store has the best home decor and eclectic nick­nacks, as well as the best glassware. Vases are $0.50 each. There’s also a shelf full of creepy dolls and a wall dec­o­rated with the cheesiest paintings, but that’s what makes the store fun.

“I love it here. Best prices and best thrift store in Hillsdale County,” Hannah, the clerk, said. She’s worked at Hillsdale Com­munity Thrift for the past year.

Hannah’s right about the best prices. Every article of clothing is $5 and under. In fact, I bought a pair of mom jeans, two graphic T‑shirts, Chinese Laundry heels, and a glass vase for $10 total. This also probably has some­thing to do with all clothing being 50% off cur­rently. 

So if you’re on a tight budget, stop reading. Hillsdale Com­munity Thrift is the one for you. 

Our next stop was Sal­vation Army. This store is much, much bigger than Hillsdale Com­munity Thrift. Its clothing selection is also four times that of Com­munity Thrift. The clothing is orga­nized by size, color, item, and gender — making it that much easier to shop. Another big plus is that it has two changing rooms, meaning that if you go with a friend, you’ll be in and out in no time. 

“You can always find name brand stuff here, which I really like because I would never just go buy a random T‑shirt at a thrift store,” sophomore Annie Nied­nagel, who I ran into thrifting, said. “But if it’s an L.L. Bean or an Eddie Bauer, I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m getting this.’” 

Niednagel’s fellow thrifter, sophomore Kate Pipher, also told me that many Hillsdale stu­dents drop their used clothing at this Sal­vation Army, so there’s a lot of good finds from college dona­tions alone. 

“There’s stuff that would be here that you wouldn’t expect in small town Michigan,” Pipher said. 

Sal­vation Army’s prices were a bit higher than Hillsdale Com­munity Thrift, as blouses and sweaters were $5 and up. I still came away with two blouses and two sweaters, all good quality and in excellent con­dition. 

The only downside to Sal­vation Army is the book selection (tremen­dously lacking), as well as the home decor. If you’re looking for books or trinkets, go to Hillsdale Com­munity Thrift. If you’re looking for a new wardrobe, Sal­vation Army is your best bet. 

Our last stop was a store I had never heard of until I was blessed with this assignment. Hot Deals, located on Hudson Road, was the least user-friendly of the three stores my com­panion and I visited. The clothing section was basi­cally nonex­istent. And most of the items for sale, to put it del­i­cately, were junk. 

I have to say that Hot Deals did have the best DVD selection of the other stores we visited. And I would call that feature its only asset. 

All in all, I had a very suc­cessful thrift store outing, as I came away with seven articles of clothing, a pair of shoes, and a glass vase all for $30. So far, the clothing has held up and I haven’t expe­ri­enced buyer’s remorse on any of my pur­chases (I have yet to wear my Tacky Jack’s graphic tee). 

If I had to rank the thrift stores in Hillsdale, my ranking would be as follows: number one, Sal­vation Army; number two, Hillsdale Com­munity Thrift; and number three (I really feel that this is quite gen­erous), Hot Deals. 

If you feel the need to buy a new per­son­ality, or a new sweater for strictly util­i­tarian pur­poses, give Hillsdale’s thrifting scene a try. Even if you don’t come away with any­thing at the end, it’ll be worth it just for the expe­rience.