Whether one is looking for a cozy knit sweater or a slightly worn out pair of tennis shoes, thrift shopping is a great way to save money and discover your own style. There’s a certain indescribable sensation felt when finally finding the perfect pair of denim jeans or a Northface windbreaker in good condition for 50% off. The possibility of discovering a new closet staple is what leads me back to the thrift store time and time again. Despite exploring numerous different thrift stores, the majority of my shopping has been at Goodwill. In desperate need of an alternative routine, the only way was to find new thrift stores in Portland, ultimately discovering the best one out of them all. After researching some potential candidates, it came down to these three thrift stores: Goodwill bins, PACS thrift store, and William Temple House Thrift Store. The rules were that there was a spending limit of only five dollars for each store. Although the majority of my thrift shopping consists of buying clothes, because of the small budget the best decision was to buy the best item, no matter what it may be, for five bucks or under. With that in mind, it was time for the first thrift store on my list: Goodwill Bins.
Located on 1740 SE Ochoco St, Milwaukie, OR 97222, this gigantic building sits quietly next to an old railroad track slightly hidden from downtown Cellwood. I was excited to explore, having only been to regular Goodwill stores. Upon entering, I was immediately hit with a wave of shock as a plethora of people hovering over enormous blue bins were wildly grabbing items left and right. The blue bins were aligned in rows with heaps and heaps of clothes, shoes, and an abundance of random objects thrown inside. When searching for buried treasure at the bins, the best way to get the most out of your experience is to not stay at one area for too long, as it can be easy to get carried away and lose the opportunity to find something you like in another bin. Bringing your own gloves or hand sanitizer is also highly recommended as some of the bins contained dirty underwear, shirts with odd stains, and the occasional unidentifiable piece of garment. Since the Bins prices their items per pound, it is ideal to pick out lighter items and not extremely heavy garments. The Bins had a certain mystery to it, the thrill of the unknown and the excitement of digging through a seemingly unpromising pile of clothes only to discover the surprise of a stylish sweater or trendy crop top. Within the timespan of roughly 15 minutes I managed to find these five items: a black, oversized, quarter zip-up fleece pullover from Columbia, a grey, wool cardigan, a black, red and white cropped sweater with a mickey mouse patch in the top left corner, and a lightweight cotton off-the-shoulder top from Brandy Melville. I was nervous to find out how much all of this would cost, especially if it would be under $5 or not. The total price came to $5.17, so just a few cents over the budget. The overall experience was worth-while, although it is definitely not for the faint of heart.
The next location was PACS Thrift Store on 11020 NE Halsey St. It was a considerably small thrift store filled with primarily used clothing and rack of shoes in the middle of the store. There was almost no one there except for another customer and three workers. Very plain shirts and blouses hung on racks, along with ordinary pants and sweaters here and there. I could tell immediately that there would not be anything “trendy,” although the quality of all the clothes were in nice condition. Unlike the Bins, PACS Thrift Store had a very quiet and almost bleak emptiness to it, with the sound of elevator music playing in the background and the smell of old books in the air. However, the prices were fairly reasonable, being within $7 and $15 with green tag items being 50% off and yellow tags 25% off. Minute after minute went by and there was nothing of interest. Before leaving, a small room caught my attention, realizing that it was filled with shelves of used books. Whether it was due to my extreme hunger at the time or my newfound interest in cooking, I decided to buy two cookbooks for $2 each. Both of the books were from the early 1980’s, one of them being “Easy Basics for Good Cooking,” and the other entitled “The Four Ingredient Cookbook.” After departing it was time for the next thrift store adventure.
William Temple House Thrift Store resides on a peaceful street corner on 2230 NW Glisan St, Portland, OR 97210. The inside of the store was very big with racks of clothes covering every available space. There was a retro vibe to William Temple, with vintage paintings hanging on the walls, brown leather couches and beautiful antique wooden tables sitting in the back of the store. Everything felt clean, simple and organized. All of the garments were in very good condition, almost as if they were brand new. There were also a great variation in styles, consisting of: plain t-shirts, pants, sweaters, skirts, and dresses along with racks of clothes with unique, vibrant patterns and interesting colors. At the front of the store there was a sign up front showing orange tags as 50% off and green tags being 75% off. Beside the normal priced racks there was a small area of discount items, which obviously had to be explored. Not too long after, I found these three items: a cute black summer dress, a heather grey cargo skirt, and high-waisted oatmeal colored pants. All three of my items were 75% off, which was definitely a fantastic deal when the clothes were already affordable to begin with. The overall customer service was also great, the employees having huge smiles on their faces and no hesitation to help out their customers. The total price came to $5.25 for three items. It was totally worth paying an extra 25 cents because the entire experience was very pleasant and highly worth my time.
All three thrift stores had both positive and negative aspects to them. After reviewing the pros and cons for each store, the clear winner was William Temple Thrift Store; with Goodwill Bins as runner-up and PACS thrift store taking last place. Beautiful, clean and very affordable, William Temple was a pleasant surprise. The only downside was the fact that it was eerily quiet, despite there being a good amount of people shopping. But otherwise it was a very fulfilling experience and I highly recommend anyone interested to explore William Temple House Thrift Store.