Home News and Features Thrifting in Central Vermont: A Field Guide 

Thrifting in Central Vermont: A Field Guide 

Years ago, with the tight budget of a first-year teacher, I thrifted for a professional wardrobe that I could afford to replace my college jeans and tees. I could find high-quality items, and sometimes scored clothing of lined wool, linen, and cashmere without the high prices of retail stores. 

My younger, more hip, friends are more creative. They hunt for treasures at thrift stores, creating new styles from recycled clothing, knowing their outfit is one-of-a-kind, and they love vintage. Other shoppers are drawn to thrifting to live sustainably by recycling clothing, and keeping textiles out of the landfill.

In this guide, I focus on stores selling secondhand clothing for adults in our region. 

First, the Glossary

Thrift stores stock secondhand items that have been donated and price them modestly. The quality varies, and not all sizes are represented. Some tailoring to fit your body or repairs may be required after purchase. 

Consignment stores sell items on behalf of the original owner, who receives a share of the sale price. They thoroughly inspect clothes for flaws and are scrupulous about quality and cleanliness. Prices are higher, but there are no repairs needed after purchase, and some have high-end brands. 

A thrift store may have vintage items, but a vintage store generally doesn’t carry obvious thrift items. In a vintage store, you will find more attention to cleaning and repairing, and thus higher prices. Vintage clothes come from an earlier era at least 20 years prior, such as the 1990s and earlier.

Retro clothes are new, made to imitate the clothing of the past. 

“Clothes for a Cause.” 

Amy’s Armoire in Barre occupies the former site of Milady’s at 114 North Main Street. Volunteers at the nonprofit shop work to fill the gaps that foster, adoptive, and kin families experience in an underfunded system. The store and donation center are staffed by volunteers with a leadership team of four. They offer community service hours to students from Norwich University and Spaulding High School. Some workers are people with special needs or retiree volunteers who want to give back. Amy’s has expanded three times so far. They collect donations at a separate site. 

Amy’s offers clothes for men, women, and children in all sizes, from casual to dressy. Children’s clothing sells for a maximum of $2. Jeans are $3, with the most expensive, such as a Carhartt jacket, at $5. Boots, toys, and books are restocked regularly. The auction site annex offers about 20 new clothing items a week and has furniture. Amy’s Facebook site is frequently updated with new offerings as well as specific needs for families. 

Jeans line the walls at Amy’s Armoire in Barre; part of Amy’s goal is to recycle good used clothing and keep it out of landfills. Photo by John Lazenby. 
They seek donations of money and clothing, all tax-deductible. Area groups such as Bisbee’s Hardware and Home Center, National Life, the Barre Elks Lodge No. 1535, and Champlain Door Systems have donated materials, cash, and labor.  

The hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

A Great Resource

The nonprofit ReSource Barre, at 30 Granite Street, sells furniture, appliances, and household items, and also has a clothing section. ReSource provides job skills training and poverty relief programs through sales of reused items. The Essential Goods program awards vouchers to low-income Vermonters through a network of partner agencies. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; closed on Sundays. There are other ReSource stores in Burlington, Williston, and Hyde Park. 

Second Hand Treasures Abound

The Bene-Fit Shoppe, run by the Central Vermont Hospital Auxiliary, at 15 Cottage Street, Barre. It’s good to check regularly because there is always something new. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 

Just down the street is the Salvation Army at 545 North Main, where long-time residents may remember the Dairy Queen. The donation center is around back, and the store has a neatly organized selection of clothes for all ages, as well as housewares, furniture, and a dressing room. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed on Sundays. 

Up the hill at the Berlin Mall is Treasures Unburied, a “Curiosity Shoppe.” Ericka Clark, proprietor, offers secondhand clothing for men and women, jewelry, and a variety of household items. Some merchandise is new, but most come from donations. The household section offers vintage items and some surprises, such as old LP records. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 1 to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., but call ahead to be sure: 802-229-4151. 

In Montpelier, Heather’s Nearly New opened at 62 River Street next to Sherwin Williams in 2003 after four years on Main Street. Heather Ward says the rent is more affordable on River Street, and there is more parking. She sells consignment clothing for men and women with a large children’s section. She also carries some new items at 50%, jewelry, puzzles, and shoes. The women’s sizes range from small up to 3X, with a maternity section. Hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; closed on Sundays. 

Heather’s Nearly New volunteer Teresa Ettouzar. Photo by Terry Allen.
The Trinity Community Thrift shop, in the basement of the Methodist Church at 137 Main in Montpelier, is the special mission of the members of the church and leader Brian Baker. You might see a free box outside. The hours are limited: Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon. 

The Getup Vintage Clothing, at 9 Langdon Street in Montpelier, offers a wide selection of vintage, including 70s T shirts, jeans, mod dresses, belt buckles, footwear, and clothes from the 1800s to the 2000s, including party dresses. Employee Esther Lent points out their unusually large men’s collection and remarks that because of the seasonal changes and constantly-changing items, many shoppers return frequently.

“We buy mostly from locals, and every item is clean and repaired carefully,” Lent said. 

Proprietors Hannah Bean and Jeff Thompson opened the store in 2008, originally next door at Buch Spieler Records. Their curated collection is also offered at The Vault Collective in Burlington and online (thevaultcollective.com)  Getup Vintage Clothing is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.  

Tim Beavin at B-Hive Industries (formerly Old School Cool) at 141 River Street in Montpelier, describes his business as “entertainment retail,” attracting shoppers to the sprawling building, soon to be expanded to 143 River. There are racks of clothing for men and women, some vintage, costume jewelry, and collectible items on every shelf.  Shoppers who miss Rubber Bubbles, a party supply store that closed on the Barre-Montpelier Road, can find much of the inventory at B-Hive, along with costumes and items that can be called “oddities,” which makes for an entertaining stroll through the aisles. One shopper says she visits often just to enjoy the constantly-changing displays and just to “poke around — there’s always something new and fun.” 

Beavin describes a secondary mission of his business is to promote reuse, thus keeping items from the landfill. He acquires inventory from estate sales as well as private sellers in the community and has sold about 400,000 items on Ebay. He manages booths at the Vermont Antique Mall in Quechee, and reflects that the demographic for vintage and antiques these days tends to be those 30 and under. 

Plans for expansion in the summer include a gallery with art for sale. B-Hive Industries is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sally’s Second Act Thrift Shop used to occupy a place in Middlesex opposite Red Hen, and, after a few years in Stowe, proprietor Monica Martinet moved back into the space formerly occupied by the Mud Studio. She takes donations and sells clothing for men and women as well as housewares, puzzles, gems and minerals, jewelry, and seasonal decorations. There is a dressing room. Most adult clothing is $2, kids at $1, and baby items at 50 cents. Items that do not sell are put outside in a free pile. The shop is open Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., closing at 5 p.m. Saturdays. 

The proprietor of Sally’s Second Act, Monica Martinet, adorns manikin Sally for every season. Here Sally begins summer as a flower child. The store occupies the building next to Red Hen Bakery, formerly The Mud Studio, in Middlesex. Photo by Terry Allen. 
Bargain Boutique, 38 South Main Street, Waterbury, is packed with clothes, books, and collectibles; furniture is downstairs. All adult clothing is $2; children’s items $1. There is a lot here, constantly changing. Proprietor Kathy Cummings accepts donations. Hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Quick tip: Sort through your clothes to find what can be donated. Then, make a list of the particular items you are looking for, leaving room for a special treasure. Although most stores take credit cards, I prefer to come with the cash I plan to spend. 

Buying at thrift stores is common throughout the community to save money, to recycle textiles, and to help others. And it’s much more fun than a trip to a department store in a mall, saving gas and money at the same time.