The 5 Best Thrift Stores in Durham, NC
Durham is the place to go to for thrift store adventures. No matter who your tribe is or isn’t (yindie, grup, hippie, hipster, geek, nerd, what-now?!), there are secondhand treasures just for you in Durham. Need a retro 60s armchair or Halloween costumes? Or are you more of a DIYer who wants scrap parts to make these items from scratch? Use this list of the 5 best secondhand stores in Durham to find everything you’re looking for and have fun exploring these hidden gems in the Bull City!
Why all the excitement about secondhand goods? Every day we throw out millions of tons of trash, the vast majority of which doesn’t get recycled. But much of this so-called “trash” still has so much value – what’s trash to you might be exactly what someone in your community is looking for. When you purchase secondhand goods, you’re giving a second life to clothes and objects that were headed straight to the landfill. Not to mention you’re saving a whole lot of money by not buying new. So next time you need to go shopping, ask yourself whether you could find what you need at a thrift store. And if you’re thinking about throwing away old clothes, furniture, decorations or electronics, consider donating them to a thrift store near you to keep the cycle going. (To learn about shopping for secondhand baby gear, click here.)
Lace up your shoes and get thrifting! Get ready to enter thrift shops that have endless supplies of decorations, utensils, clothes, household objects, and anything you can think of. Here is the list of my 5 favorite thrift stores near me:
- The Scrap Exchange is a non-profit that promotes creativity, environmental awareness, and community by repurposing usable materials from a simple screw to a retro vintage Singer sewing machine. This store is as eclectic as they come. Beyond used goods, they offer workshops, open studio hours, community gardening, and parties. Listen to your scrapper spirit and let your creative mind run free in this unique store.
- Everything But Grannies Panties is located in a charming Victorian house on Guess Road. This retail store offers antique treasures, furniture, clothes, and household items. They managed to fit almost everything into this two-story house – don’t forget to check out their patio too. Their second venue for higher-end goods, Grannies Goodies, is just a block away and only opens for special events. I encourage you to visit Grannies and stay informed by subscribing to their mailing list.
- The Salvation Army is where I had my first thrifting experience. I bought my first glassware collection there: a beautiful set of five vintage green glasses. “Five, you say?!” Yes. Get a little crazy – you have my permission to break the golden rule of having an even number of glassware. This is the perfect place to find unique kitchen gear that will reflect your personality.
- TROSA, Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers, is a non-profit that originated in Durham. They have a massive re-store, where you can find everything you’re looking for, and in good condition too. The layout of the store is inviting, organized, and easy to navigate without feeling overwhelmed. My favorite parts of their store are definitely their furniture section and their picture frames section. If you’re looking to frame a photo, a poster, or a painting, they have frames in every size you can dream of and their options will save you so much money. Just bring a measuring tape with you to make sure you get the size you need for your project and you’re all set.
- Durham Bike Co-op is a friendly shop where warm staff and volunteers will help you find all the parts you need to fix your bike yourself or even to build your own bike! Don’t know how to fix your bike? You’re not alone! In this techno-dependent world, so many of us don’t know how to fix things when they break! In true permaculture style, this Bike Co-op is helping us design ourselves out of that problem by teaching community members like us how to fix our own bicycles – a necessary skill for self-reliance! By paying a small fee or investing volunteer hours, you can access a broad array of tools and recycled bike parts. Sign up on their website to become a member. Note: Make sure to check the Co-op’s schedule prior to visiting – they open on Thursdays and Sundays. Since they’re located right by Duke Park, it’s a good excuse to have a Sunday picnic in the park while you’re at it ;-).
There’s your list and don’t forget your map of the thrifting tour! Now, call a friend, grab your bag, hop on your bike and go for a thrift shop adventure through Durham. All of these stores are within biking distance of each other. If you want to add more fun stops to your itinerary, check out this helpful link from Durham’s official website.
Tell us what you think of these 5 thrift stores and how your thrifting adventure went in the comments below!
With much love,
PS: Duke students! Want more secondhand goodies? Take a look at Duke List! It’s a great platform for selling and buying anything you can think of. Also, join the “Fuqua for sale” group on FB to see what MBA graduates are selling!
RELATED: 5 Tips for Secondhand Baby Gear
Permaculture principles applied:
Many of us are quick to drive to the store to buy every last item we need brand new. Each of these items require finite environmental resources to create, and unfortunately our planet cannot sustain this consumptive behavior. The good news is that there’s likely an abundance of the items we need at our local thrift stores. If we want to ensure healthy ecosystems, we must adapt how we purchase goods as a response to the planet’s negative feedback to our behavior. Purchasing secondhand goods is a great place to start.
Our consumptive behavior has been dependent on non-renewable resources. How can we step away from this ingrained habit? Instead of turning to regular stores, look at the abundance of resources you have around you at thrift stores or consignment stores – the items you are looking for have likely already been made and could use a new home.
Thrift stores find the value in all kinds of abandoned goods. Some everyday items are gently used and can easily find a new owner. Other items are more worn down or peculiar and it can take a creative spirit to turn these into a useful tool or an artful masterpiece.
If you are a DIYer, thrift stores are the perfect place to find scrap materials to make your own creations. Sometimes it’s more fun and fulfilling to slow down to make an item from scratch rather than purchasing it brand new at the store.
Thrift stores are full of knick knacks and random eclectic items that you can make use of. But maybe these 5 stores still won’t have exactly what you’re looking for. So be resourceful and think about other places you can find secondhand goods, like consignment stores, your friends and family, Craigslist and garage sales.
Just because all your friends shop at the mall every weekend doesn’t mean that you need to follow suit. Walking off the beaten path is allowed. Dive into the world of thrifting with diverse objects, clothing, and scrap materials – you’ll find some of the most interesting and valuable gems in thrift stores!