When you shop at thrift and consignment stores, you’re not just helping your bank account—you’re helping the environment, too. Thrifting furniture, clothing, and other goods keeps those items out of the landfill.
Besides, is there anything more fulfilling than stumbling on a one-of-a-kind find? There’s a reason so many people equate thrifting to a treasure hunt. To help you get started on your own retail adventure, we’ve categorized some of Kansas City’s best bargain-focused boutiques. Let’s shop!
Clothing & Accessories
There’s something thrilling about flipping through racks at a resale boutique. You never know what pieces—and, at Ditto, which designer labels—you’ll discover. Plus, curvy shoppers will love Ditto’s dedication to carrying a range of sizes, something that’s not always easy to find in the thrifting world. If you find yourself with the urge to get a jumpstart on your closet’s spring cleaning, consider bringing name-brand apparel and accessories to Ditto for consideration. Favorite brands include Kendra Scott, J. Crew, Lululemon, Kate Spade, Baldwin, and Anthropologie, to name a few. With three Kansas City-area locations (North Kansas City, Lenexa, and Overland Park), you won’t have to go far to score a stylish bargain.
Donna’s Dress Shop
We all have that chic, effortlessly stylish friend whose closet we wish we could raid. Keep your friendship intact and, instead, visit Donna’s Dress Shop (39th Street). The charming boutique carries a mix of new and vintage clothing. Vintage pieces often come from the closets of stylish Kansas Citians, giving savvy shoppers a chance to write a new chapter of a garment or accessory’s fashionable story. Follow Donna’s Dress Shop on Facebook (@DonnasDressShop) for updates on clothing, accessories and special events like seasonal sales and trunk shows. While you peruse the racks, keep your eyes peeled for the friendly and fashionable Donna Foulk, the owner of Donna’s Dress Shop, who’s easy to spot with her signature beehive hairstyle.
Books & Music
Big Dude’s Music City
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to learn to play an instrument, make Big Dude’s Music City (Midtown) your first stop. Guitars, drums, keyboards, bass—Big Dude’s has all of these instruments and more, including used gear as inventory allows. Or, set yourself up with a full suite of DJ equipment and prepare to work the wedding circuit! In addition to instruments and equipment in a range of prices, you’ll get expert input from Big Dude’s knowledgeable staff that will listen to what you need and help you find it. If you have a special event coming up, you can rent a variety of audio equipment from Big Dude’s Music City, especially important when you’re on a budget. Oh, and that music-focused New Year’s resolution we mentioned earlier? Big Dude’s Music City offers a full range of private music lessons, including vocals, guitar, bass, and drums. We know it’s not officially gifting season right now, but who says you can’t treat yourself?
Every neighborhood needs a bookstore. For more than two decades, Prospero’s Books has been a cornerstone of Midtown’s 39th Street corridor (and not just because of its prime corner location!) Here’s a fun fact: the used bookstore may be in Kansas City’s longest continually operating retail space. The 1890-era building that’s home to Prospero’s was first a grocery store, then a hardware store before starting its next chapter as Prospero’s, opening on the anniversary of iconic Paris bookstore and expat-stronghold, Shakespeare & Company. If you stroll by Prospero’s during off-hours, you’ll see a selection of books heaped on tables outside the store, meant for anyone in need of a reading break. Customers are encouraged to slip a bit of money under the door in exchange for the book, one of the more unique transaction methods available in Kansas City! Of course, you should come back when Prospero’s is open and immerse yourself in corridors that snake between towering shelves crammed full of books. If books are your escape, consider Prospero’s the gateway to adventure.
The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven
Music lovers, rejoice. Rolling Stone reported last September that vinyl is on the brink of outselling CDs for the first time since 1986. Whether you’re a longtime vinyl collector or just getting into the market, The Vinyl Underground has the necessities your music collection didn’t realize it was missing! The Vinyl Underground spans an entire floor in the 7th Heaven building (an alternative-lifestyle business that dates back to the mid-1960s), a music lover’s paradise stocked full of new and used vinyl records (including LPs, 45s and 78s). You might realize your stereo needs an upgrade to keep pace with your vinyl collection, and The Vinyl Underground has both new and vintage equipment available. You can also unload vinyl that you’re no longer interested in for cash—which you should spend on more vinyl, of course!
Wise Blood Booksellers
Named for a Flannery O’Connor novel, Wise Blood Booksellers (Westport) is the new kid on the indie bookstore block. The shop opened on Black Friday 2019 and is helmed by co-owners Dylan Pyles and Judy Mills. Wise Blood Booksellers grew out of the small yet thoughtfully curated literary selection at Mills Record Company, just around the corner from Wise Blood Booksellers. Some vinyl is available at Wise Blood, including albums paired with corresponding 33 1/3 books, each about an individual popular music album. Most of the inventory is focused on books, with a large selection of used books (including newer fiction titles). Comfy chairs dot the quiet space, and in the back, prime wall space hosts rotating exhibits by local artists.
Kitchen, Home & Crafting
Planning a home DIY project? You owe it to yourself to make Habitat ReStore your first stop for materials, including lumber, furniture, fixtures, and more. Kansas City is home to six locations throughout the metro area, each operated by Habitat for Humanity. Stores accept donations of home improvement and related items, which, according to Habitat for Humanity, are then sold to the public at a fraction of the retail price. Because the stores rely on donations for inventory, stock is always changing—so visit often!
Index Restaurant Supply
If you envy the efficiency of a commercial kitchen, make plans to stock up on everything from pots and bakeware to glassware and condiment dispensers at the River Market’s Index Restaurant Supply (River Market). Despite the name, you don’t need to be affiliated with a restaurant to shop there (although FYI—Index isn’t open on weekends). Instead, roll up your sleeves and get ready to dig through the more than 60-year-old store’s dusty shelves to find the kitchen tools you didn’t realize you needed.
Revival Home Furnishings
If you’re more “impulse shopper” than “window shopper,” you’ll love Revival Home Furnishings. At the Overland Park furniture store, which opened in 2003, it’s not uncommon for hundreds of pieces of furniture to arrive and leave in the same week. That’s what prompted the store’s top piece of advice: “We often tell customers to ‘Buy it now because it won’t be here tomorrow!’” Like other consignment stores, Revival carries a mix of new and used pieces. Whether you’re looking to furnish a first home or carefully searching for the perfect addition to your established décor, there’s a good chance you’ll find what you need at Revival Home Furnishings.
Crafters, you might want to sit down. ScrapsKC is your new favorite destination for materials and supplies. ScrapsKC works with a variety of partners to stock donated scraps, including textiles, art supplies, school and office supplies, and hardware. Stock changes depending on what donations are collected, but ScrapsKC typically always has a selection of art supplies, fabric/yarn/notions, party goods, paper and more. Here’s the cool part—you can even sit and craft in the store, then take your creation home! If you’re feeling a little cabin fever this winter, consider an outing to ScrapsKC’s Make-and-Take Space, available for drop-ins during store hours unless a scheduled event is occurring. You can also rent space in ScrapsKC’s Maker’s Studio, fully equipped with sewing machines, overhead projectors, jewelry-making tools, a Cricut Cutter, a book-binding machine and more. Bring your own supplies or buy supplies at ScrapsKC, then book space in the Maker’s Studio in 60-minute increments. Since launching in 2016, ScrapsKC has already helped divert more than 135 tons of material from local landfills while also helping teachers, makers, churches, and Scouts. ScrapsKC is also committed to working with homeless volunteers and tapping its network to employ those volunteers as soon as possible.
Troost39 Thrift Store
Sure, you’ll find clothing, accessories, home décor, kitchenware, and so much more at Troost39 Thrift Store. You’ll also find more than that—you’ll find a true community gathering place. That’s because Troost39 is part thrift store, part non-profit ministry that offers “assistance to those most in need by partnering with social service agencies throughout the city,” as detailed on its website. If you haven’t yet visited, there’s a good chance you’ll leave feeling like a friend instead of a customer. And if you’re inspired to become a part of this community as you shop, Troost39 is always looking for volunteers to fold, sort, paint, clean, sell, greet and more. While you’re there, sign up for Troost39’s emails to stay updated on what the shop calls Hidden Treasures, incredible finds that are sure to sell quickly. Recent examples include a 1940s vintage gown, English bone china, a Victorian parlor chair, and a gold and sapphire tennis bracelet.
Wonderland Vintage Unique & Curio
Surrounded by bright colors and cleverly merchandised displays, you’ll no doubt feel like you’ve stepped into a Wonderland of vintage treasures! This Westport mainstay is part boutique, part salon (hello, multitasking!) It’s a popular stop for shoppers looking to create or complete a costume, so keep Wonderland in mind for your next themed event. Of course, there’s much more to see (and buy) at Wonderland. In a Yelp review, Ilene H. said it best: “Lovely selection of odd, old, strange and rad.” Let Wonderland’s eclectic inventory—including clothing, jewelry, accessories—capture your imagination and add new energy to your closet. After all, it’s a new year—why not consider a new look? https://www.facebook.com/WonderlandKC/
Feeling the urge to boost your productivity? Some new office furniture might be just the ticket. Contract Furnishings carries a wide array of office furniture, including used pieces collected from distributors around the U.S. From chairs and desks to tables and cubicles (and more), you’ll find what you need to outfit your workspace, whether that includes a single office or you’re furnishing a multi-office building. Plus, Contract Furnishings’ services include delivery and installation, especially helpful if you’re dealing with cumbersome power-cord configurations. Contract Furnishings carefully examines used furniture to ensure it’s of quality, and the staff is often surprised by how little use office furniture gets before its resold as used—especially in categories like training-room furniture.
Office Furniture Kansas City
The team at Office Furniture Kansas City (North Kansas City) takes a different approach to the furnishings they sell, as detailed on their website. “We believe that your furniture is an asset. A chair isn’t simply a place to sit, and a desk isn’t just a work surface — they’re long-term investments.” When you think about how much time you spend using office furniture, it’s a mindset that makes sense. And with a selection of used and refurbished office furniture, you’ll be more likely to find quality, long-lasting office furnishings from recognizable brands like Steelcase. If you want to add some personality to your workspace, click the “Feeling lucky?” tab on OFKC’s website to see an assortment of “odd, interesting, unique and one-of-a-kind items,” which currently include speaking podiums and an electric dentist’s chair!
A Thrifting Expert Shares Her Secrets
Thrifting enthusiast Lauren Pearson has no shortage of stories about her stellar thrift finds. One of her favorites? Discovering a vintage Gucci bag tucked away in a display case. It was half-price day, so Pearson scored the luxury bag for a mere $12!
Pearson, who shares her thrifting finds on Instagram at @lolanepear, says successful thrifting requires a certain mindset.
“You should see me thrifting,” Pearson says with a laugh. “I move so fast! It’s like an Olympic sport.”
Pearson spills a few of her tried-and-true thrifting tips to help others make their own amazing discoveries.
Shop often. Consistency is key, Pearson says. Frequent visits not only give you prime access to new merchandise, but you’ll also learn to more quickly spot the treasures hidden amongst the trinkets. “I can run my hand across clothing and feel for silk and cashmere,” she says.
Look for easy wins. Pearson, a shoe-lover, says she always makes a beeline for the shoe section because she’s more likely to find a great bargain, which energizes her to keep looking. “Sometimes I’ll pop into a thrift store for 20 minutes after work and set a timer. I’ll look quickly, and if I find one thing and am inspired, I’ll keep going.”
Make friends. Whether chatting with a store employee or a fellow customer, Pearson loves making connections with others in the thrifting world. As a result, she’s been guided to hot spots within a store by other customers or will be notified of new and coveted finds by store associates.
Check the return rack. “A lot of times, people will find great things that don’t fit quite right,” she says. “When clothing is on the return rack, it’s almost like someone else picked the items for you!”
Prepare to DIY. Thrifted garments and accessories often need a little TLC, then they’re good as new. Pearson keeps a stock of sewing supplies, Clorox wipes, and leather cleaner handy. “Give your thrift finds a little love and you’ll wear them even more,” she says.
In addition to sharing thrifting tips, Pearson also dished on some of her favorite thrifting stops, including City Thrift (both the Wornall and Antioch locations); TurnStyles Thrift, operated by Catholic Charities (three locations in the metro); and Blessings Abound, 10325 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, KS.
Where do you find can’t-miss thrift treasures and bargains throughout the Kansas City area? Tweet us your shopping recommendations at @inkansascitymag!