Tucked in an industrial area north of downtown Los Angeles which you’ve probably never been to unless Waze has punked you en route to Dodger Stadium is one of the best thrift stores in the city. St. Vincent de Paul’s in Lincoln Heights is warehouse massive, clean, and boasts great prices. It’s among the most comprehensively-stocked thrift stores I’ve ever been in, containing both a snowboard section and a rack exclusively devoted to dog clothing. I don’t object to dogs wearing clothes per se, but I do resent it when they’re dressed better than I am, so if you shop here for your dog, all I ask is that you don’t rub my face in it if we show up at a social event wearing the same thing.
Overall rating: A
What to buy:
1. Mugs/Cups. There is nothing special about any of the dishware I saw here — except the price. The mugs and cups are .49 cents apiece, which is significantly cheaper than even the cheapest new mug you’re likely to find. If you can’t drink out of a receptacle of the Young Ladies Institute of Fresno’s 1993 class with pride, frankly, I don’t want to know you.
2. Pianos. Most thrift stores don’t have the space to store pianos, so the fact that St. Vincent’s has a piano section at all is an oddity in itself. I am no piano expert, but a quick look on SoCal pianos shows their used models start at $395, while the one made of blonde wood was selling for $250.00. The one to its right, the George Steck, was going for $495, and it appears to be a respectable manufacturer. (They stopped production in the 80s, though some pianos with the name have been issued from China recently. This one clearly predates that). Here’s a thread I found about the pros and cons of buying used pianos, the upshot of which is that it’s worth having a technician inspect it before you buy it. Also, tuning them typically costs between $75 – $125.
3. Ties. In the history of humanity, has anyone ever worn out a tie? Unless the owner has drunkenly paraded himself through a series of wedding receptions or spilled red sauce on himself during an Italian meal, a new tie looks identical to an old one. Most of these go for $4.99, including a Van Heusen that I picked up at random. New ties from the same designer average around $40.00. You know you’re only wearing it twice, anyway, so why not save a few bucks?
4. Wedding/Quinceanera/Formal Dresses. It’s pretty unusual to see a large collection of formal dresses at a thrift store, but this place has them. The wedding dresses ranged from $39.99 to $59.99, and were all in good shape. We can safely assume they were only worn once, if at all.
5. Furniture. The furniture was priced fairly. I saw this super cute Mercury vintage sewing machine in its old wooden case for $49.00 which probably dates from the 1950s or 60s. This floral couch was marked at $75.00.
6. Computers. This is the only thrift store I have ever been to where the computer systems were operational and set up for testing. Each one also has all the relevant specs listed, so kudos to St. Vincent’s de Paul’s for that. I am not a PC person but they were at least running Windows 7, which is current. Average price was $175.00 for the whole system.
A few other notes:
I give this place a lot of credit for individually pricing their items. Goodwill, for example, typically has a flat price for all categories of clothing, like women’s short sleeve shirts. This leads to a number of items being overpriced, as well as underpriced. They have different colored tags so items that have been in the store a while are automatically discounted.
Lastly, if you are thinking about making the move to nude beaches, but want to ease into it, consider these brand new bikini bottoms for only $0.59 each. If anyone notices new bikini tops in another thrift store, let me know, and we’ll combine them and make our fortunes!