Yes, you can find thrift shopping in midtown

Got a case of the credit card blues and the January blahs rolled into one, but still need to get some shopping ya-yas out?

I hear ya. The new year is such a let-down, what with holiday bills and depleted bank accounts … and maybe a couple extra pounds thrown in for good measure.

For dedicated retail rovers who’d rather slide into icy cold polar waters than go a month without shopping, I have just the solution for the January I-have-to-buy-without-spending-big-wads-of-cash-syndrome:

Do a down and dirty thrifty dig.

Now, Leaside proper may not be known for its thrift stores – vintage and some resale boutiques, yes, but thrift, not so much. Go to the edges of the area, though, at Bloor Street East and Sherbourne, and you’ll find a little gem that I just discovered:

Who would have thought? A thrift shop junkie, I’ve never been to this location before. Inside, I’m blown away. This is the nicest Goodwill in Toronto, a far cry from some of the others, where the atmosphere and the pickings are more rough-and-tumble.

The place is huge, neat and well-organized, with soft yellow lighting overhead (rare things in thrift shops, let me tell you).

The first thing I pick up is a keeper: a fitted velvet and Spandex paisley blazer by Canadian designer Talula Babaton, also Made In Canada. It’s very boho hip – apparently the designer’s pieces are carried at Aritzia so you get the idea.

A sign on the rack says blazers are $7.99 and up. I’ve never understood what constitutes “and up” but the cash gods charge me $7.99.

Situated so close to lower Leaside and even Forest Hill, it’s no wonder there are some pretty jazzy labels here. In handbags I see a Kate Spade bag for $4.99 (could be a knock off?).

A Planet (by Brit label Windsmoor) chiffon dress is under a sign that says $6.99 and up.

In sweaters ($5.99 and up) a wool-acrylic cowl neck tunic fits me perfectly. I tend to shop high on the deal chain when thrifting, so the sweater, already pilling, stays put.

But a vintage 1970s double knit wool dress by Butte Knit, a US company that was huge in the 1960s, looks retro chic on me. It’s light blue with two pockets in the front covered with silver buckles and blue velvet detail.

Dresses are $6.99 and up. I’m charged $8.99 but don’t bother asking why — it goes back into helping the community after all.

I can’t resist a pair of vintage cream lamps, tiny bulbous things with a quilted (or pineapple?) motif, $4.99 each. They look tres 1940s glam.

If you want better deals, wait for the monthly 50 percent off days.

345 Bloor St. East, 416-815-4749

Another hidden gem in Forest Hill that’s rife with deals isn’t a store — it’s a monthly event at The Walmer Centre.

On the second Saturday of every month the local chapter of Dress For Success has its $2 Clothing Sale.

You heard me right.

The sale consists of casual clothing and accessories not appropriate for the charity, which helps clothe new immigrants in professional attire for job interviews.

I arrive an hour after it starts with a mere $8 in my pocket, the proceeds of my laundry collection can.

You can score big at a sale like this, so long as you heed some simple rules: be polite, for one, and don’t grab other peoples’ stuff.
Bring a big bag with handles. Most women are toting those massive hockey bags and stuffing clothing in so others won’t snag it.

Leave your coat in the car or tie it around your waist. Whatever you do don’t leave it on a table for a second ’cause then it’s fair game for some.

I narrow down my finds to a purple and green plaid coat — or is it a bath robe? — with a Saks Fifth Avenue tag on it; a Dolce and Gabanna sleeveless mock turtleneck top; an Old Navy merino wool sweater; a green stretch blazer by Yahoo American Jeans; a wool tunic by local designer Ewanika; and a trendy polo by H&M.

I’m $4 over budget. Then some gals in the back hallway convince me try a blazer I’m eyeballing. It’s an über-fitted blue wool blazer by local designer Roland Heizinger, with fab detailing like buckles, zippers and (best of all) quilted circular shapes right where the girls are.

Though it sounds very Madonna-in-the-1990s, it actually rocks on me. I give up my plaid coat in gratitude and one woman is thrilled to get it.

I leave with the green blazer, the boob blazer, the Ewanika tunic, and tack on a grey linen MEXX dress. Total: $8.

I’ll so be back for the next sale, Jan. 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

188 Lowther Ave., see Facebook page “The $2 Clothing Sale” or email [][/email]

About this article:

By: Kelly Gadzala
Posted: Jan 6 2010 11:20 am
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto