To quote Henry David Thoreau, “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.” Although, it is not the enterprise we must refrain from, but the urgency of purchasing new clothing. This is easily accomplished with the number and quality of secondhand stores in Bennington. From vintage treasures, to wardrobe necessities, even the most finicky buyer is sure to leave town with a grin and still-full pockets.
We’ve all been there, a distant relative gifts us an undesirable item of clothing. Feeling guilty, we throw the item in a bag of unwanted clothes destined for a local consignment store. While secondhand stores and the clothing within them are quite stigmatized, quality items do appear on the racks for a variety of reasons. In like manner of the scenario above, a person is a fashion plate who only wears an item twice before giving it away; a person purchases an item and does not like the way it looks on him or her; a person gains or loses weight; etc. Each of these instances results in some nice clothing entering the secondhand shop.
Unquestionably, we could go to a store like Ralph Lauren, find a high quality article of clothing, and wear it, say, thirty times over the course of several years. That article of clothing might cost us $60, so the cost would be $2 per use. Contrastingly, we might find an appealing item at a local secondhand shop. Sure, it could have been worn a few times already, so we may only get fifteen wears out of it instead of the thirty we might get from the new item. However, that secondhand item only cost us $3. That’s $0.20 per use. In truth, once they meet a minimum standard of quality, clothing really is cost per use.
Downtown Lost and Found
Owner: Lindsay Strattman
Human beings are busy creatures and if we can find a good reason to avoid doing something, we’ll use it. In terms of thrifting/estate sale shopping, time cost is often that reason. At Downtown Lost and Found, you can find the best of both worlds: the convenience of accessible quality goods and unique, one-of-a-kind items sought out at secondhand stores.
Owner Lindsay Strattman began collecting novel, vintage items as a hobby, and later opened Downtown Lost and Found when both her accumulation and love of thrifting grew too extensive not to share. Stocked with articles from estate sales in MA, NH, NJ and NYC, you can browse the shelves of vendors states over, all from good ol’ Bennington.
If you are interested in purchasing antique, vintage or modern furniture, glassware and home goods, but don’t have the time to scour secondhand sales, stop by 435 Main Street in Bennington, or call (802) 442-8884.
Here We Grow
Owner: Jaime Lane
These days it seems that children are growing faster, and arguably more expensive to raise, than ever. I know that for many families, older siblings and relatives give hand-me-downs to their younger wardrobe successors. I also know that for many children, the concept of hand-me-downs is practical yet undesirable. Inexpensive children’s clothing is highly appealing to the caregiver, but kids feel the inherent need to mature with an individual style apart from their siblings.
Owner Jaime Lane recognized the growing demand of an affordable children’s store in Bennington, and, a mother of two children herself, understood its necessity. Here We Grow is stocked through consignment – parents and guardians can purchase clothing for a newborn (at only a couple dollars per item), use the clothing until the child grows out of it, donate it and receive a percentage of the profit in the form of either cash or store credit, which can be used to buy clothing for the child’s next stage of life. The process is both convenient and cost-efficient, as Here We Grow carries clothing for newborns up to a size 12.
The store itself has a clean, family-friendly aura, and even hosts a children’s play area and a large, cushioned chair for nursing. In addition to gently used clothing, Here We Grow offers a variety of shoes, toys, furniture and equipment; check out 473 Main Street, Bennington for inexpensive, quality family items, visit their website www.herewegrowvt.com, or call (802)-753-7375.
Full Circle Mercantile
Owner: Alisa Young
Upon entering Full Circle, your charming first impression is of thoughtful clutter. Brightly colored vintage parasols adorn the ceiling, shoes march across shelves, and scarves drape across practically everything. Each thing has its place, and most certainly each place has its thing! The racks are ample with clothing of every style and era of imaginable. From everyday essentials, to irresistible curiosities, there seems to be no end to what you can find.
Full Circle offers a delightful mix of old and new items, united by quality and a certain flare for the unusual. With a robust men’s section, extensive children’s area, and ever-changing selection of locally made crafts, Full Circle has something for every wardrobe. In the words of Full Circle’s devoted owner, “We offer an eclectic blend of vintage and modern goods to enchant the most discriminating shopper.” And enchant it does! With an antique mirrored dresser displaying gorgeous handmade jewelry, and a chicken-adorned blackboard sign just feet away, Full Circle feels like a lady’s boudoir with a homey Vermont twist.
If you are interested in exploring this eclectic shop, or consigning some of your own well-loved pieces, drop by 244 North St. For more information, check out Full Circle’s facebook page at www.facebook.com/FullCircleMercantile, or call (802)-365-1665.
Second Hand Rose
Owner: Cindy Bastarache
As of 2015, Second Hand Rose celebrated its silver anniversary – 25 years of helping locals and tourists alike revamp their wardrobes with high-quality secondhand clothing, and beautiful locally made handicrafts. Although the store may date back to the 90s, the clothing it offers is far from out-dated. Second Hand Rose offers a wide selection of chic contemporary clothing from a variety of prestigious brands.
You should leave your inhibitions about buying used clothing at the door of this expansive store, because Second Hand Rose is not a refuge of the frumpy or tattered that many assume thrift stores to be. In fact, the store’s consigned stock is chosen with great discernment in regard to it’s quality. The store offers clothing for people of every age, gender, size, and clothing preference, as well as select home goods and accessories. In the owner, Cindy Bastarache words, “There’s something for everyone.”
In addition to providing good clothing at reasonable prices, Second Hand Rose is run with a determination to address the incredible wastefulness of the clothing industry today. The owner’s vision for the store revolves around the idea of “being green” – recycling gently-used clothing so as to maximize the resources that go into making it. And, lucky for the customer, bargain rates come as a natural result of that business model because clothing prices no longer have to include a premium to cover the cost of manufacturing or shipping. If you would like to check out Second Hand Rose’s extensive stock, or are looking to donate some of your own things, stop in at 303 Depot St. And make sure to check out their website www.secondhandrosevt.com, or call (802)-447-1563 for more information.
There is something inherently gratifying about purchasing something that once meant something to someone else, and giving it new significance.
Because of this, second hand clothing has character that new clothing altogether lacks. Seeing each purchase as a way to preserve a small piece of history turns the otherwise-mundane task of shopping into an adventure. Here in Bennington we are incredibly lucky to have several high quality secondhand businesses, each occupying a different shopping niche. Whether you are a visitor to the area, or a seasoned local, we highly encourage that you stop by a few of these wonderful shops and see what gem might be waiting there for you.
Story by Emma Ganger-Spivak and Bernie Devito.