Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Special Trip: Forest Lake, MN Dirrrty Thrifin'

I admit that after Molly and I dropped bucketloads of money all over the Stillwater Goodwill, I was feeling less than optimistic about my initial idea to spend much of crappy Minnesota winter traveling to small towns and finding adorable, affordable thrift shops and sharing them with all of you. A week after my first attempt, however, things took a major turn for the better, probably because I have been channeling positive vibes via The Secret.

I convinced my roommate, Tara "Wild Womyn" Zachman, and her man friend, Justin, to join me on a trip to Forest Lake, MN, with the intent of checking out three thrift stores: two Family Pathways and one Community Helping Hands. After doing some internet searching and google mapping, we had our directions and were ready to go, despite the fact that we hadn't showered, done yoga, walked the dogs or had eaten anything but popcorn.

What we found blew my socks off. In a disastrous attempt to evade rush hour traffic (and, on top of that, the terrible traffic still resulting from the snow storm we had received days prior), we only made it to two of the shops, but let me tell you, they were amazing. So amazing, in fact, that I can hardly wait to return.

I am, however, slightly disappointed that we weren't able to hit all three shops, and I was therefore unable to employ my special Forest Lake rating system that mimics the town's relationship with the local lakes. I learned from Tara that there are three lakes in Forest Lake but none of them have names; they are just referred to as "First Lake," "Second Lake" and "Third Lake." Naturally, I thought this was brilliant as it either exhibits the townspeople's laziness or their Scandinavian refusal to allow for flashy individuality of any sort, and was all excited to rate the thrift stores as based on these labels. "First lake" would to go the best thrift store and so on. But now the whole thing is thrown off so I am not sure what to do.

Also, did you know that there is a juvenile detention center in Lino Lakes, the town right by Forest Lake? I bet you didn't.

Commuity Helping Hand Forest Lake, MN

Anyway. If I did have to give one of the two thrift stores the accolades of "Lake One," I would pick the first one we attended: the Community Helping Hands thrift shop. I knew things were going to be great when there was a sign on the main road by the Target that said "thrift store" with an arrow (I really wanted to photograph this piece of amazingness, but as it was negative degrees out, and it was on a really busy street/highway, I ask you to imagine this). Not only were the prices amazing, there was a bag sale going on, the volunteers were so nice that they offered to take my overflowing basket and stow it behind the counter and said that we could have left our jackets on the counter instead of keeping them in the freezing car, AND they have punch cards. BEST THING EVER!

I walked away with some cute tops, two mexican blankets (priced at $1 each—perfect in a household where decorative linens regularly become dog toys!), a pair of snowpants (crazy winter clown biking, anyone?), a book, awesome moccasin booties and a very special x-mas gift for my fiance for under $10. It was glorious. AND, unlike a lot of places that are smaller, this had a nice selection and a lot to look at. So much so that these were all my rejects (most of which could have been purchased if I wasn't trying to limit my spending):

Commuity Helping Hand Forest Lake, MN

We then headed to the first Family Pathways store to be greeted with this sign:

Family Pathways Forest Lake, MN

Say what?! Somehow, the thrifting gods were smiling on us, because we inadvertently stumbled upon the first day of the store's moving sale, where everything was HALF-OFF. I later had some small talk with a fellow customer who said that the new store "was really nice," so I am excited to check that out in the future as well. The highlight of the whole trip was when I was determined to fit a pair of tight black rainboots on and had to have three other people (which included Tara, Justin and some strange teenager who thought it was the most highlarious thing in the world) to get them off. Needless to say, I did not purchase the boots.

I did, however, get three tops, a black leather fold-over purse, a pair of shoes, a bag of bracelets and a canvas tote bag (which has become my go-to carry all) for under $9. HALF-PRICE ALL THE WAY!

Some key pieces:

Leather Moccasin Boots
Leather Moccasin Boots (detail)

Moccasin booties with weird studded backs.

Holly Cheerleading Mug

Cheerleading "Holly" glass pint mug. Justin surprised me with this amazing early x-mas gift. I am going to use it to drink cocktails.

White and Gold Plastic Bangles

Chunky white bracelets.

Foldover Black Leather Clutch
Foldover Black Leather Clutch (inside)

Leather fold-over clutch.

Cutout Wedge Shoes

Crazy cutout heeled shoes. These are about half a size too big, and I hate the tops of them, but I absolutely could NOT turn down a pair of shoes with such an insane heel, especially since the only thing I have been coveting from Urban Outfitters has been these wedge heels. Plus they were only $1.50 after the half price discount. STEAL!

Watch out Forest Lake! I will be back!

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