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.