Written by: Audrey White
Thrifting can be a great way to save money and find great deals. Luckily, the Waterloo region has a good selection of thrift stores to choose from. We’ve compiled a list of the best thrift stores within the Kitchener and Waterloo region. Most of these should be fairly easily accessible for students with a car or bus pass.
This Value Village is one of the more well-known thrift locations in Kitchener/Waterloo. As such, it’s a big hit or miss location. It’s tougher to find high-end pieces at this location, but if you’re looking for vintage pieces then you likely won’t be disappointed. Also, keep in mind that this location is older and more frequented, so don’t expect it to be the cleanliest.
This is one of the newer Value Villages in the area. It’s in a more affluent area, so you can be sure to find some higher-end and newer pieces here. The location itself is less frequented because it’s a little bit of a ways out of town, closer to the 401, but the trip is well worth it. If you’re looking for some great finds, this is the place.
Talize is the best thrift store you’ve never heard of. Located near Fairview Mall, you can be sure to find some great clothes here. The quality of items here is similar to what you’ll find out by the Gateway Park Dr. Value Village. Prices are comparable if not cheaper here as well – and post-secondary students with valid student ID and seniros (55 or better) receive a 10% discount every day. They also offer a $5 off coupon with any clothing or housewares donation. Talize isn’t as well-known as Value Village, so it’s not usually as busy.
If you’re looking for a thrift store that’s close to Laurier or University of Waterloo, this one isn’t too far away. You won’t find nearly as good of a selection as Value Village and Talize, but you can still find some unique and older vintage pieces here. They also have a lot of auction pieces here, typically things such as Louis Vuitton, old game consoles and other antiques. It’s not the nicest store, so be prepared.
If you’re looking for something more conveniently located near the Uptown area, Luster & Oak is a great alternative. We’re located in the core Uptown Waterloo area, we’re a smaller shop but the quality of selection is much better than any of the thrift stores in the area. Of course, the prices are a bit higher, but generally we try to stay in a range comparable to thrift stores in the area. If you’re looking for vintage or new pieces, we’re the place to go. We get tons of clothes from Aritzia, American Apparel, H&M, Forever 21, Supreme, Stussy, Steve Madden and other similar brands for a fraction of the price.
All of our items are sold on a consignment basis, so you can also resell your items and either get paid out in cash, or use in-store credit and receive a discount on your purchases. Luster & Oak is walking distance from Laurier and University of Waterloo, so you don’t need to travel far to reach us!
Thrifting can be frustrating and disappointing. First time thrifters may be discouraged by their lack of good finds. So, we’ve put together some tips on improving your thrifting experience.
I find it most helpful to do some research before I go thrifting. First, you’ll want to find out what thrift stores are in your area. You’ll likely have a Value Village, Talize, Goodwill or Salvation Army in your area. These are the biggest and most common thrift store chains in Ontario. You’ll likely also have some independent and community organized thrift stores, such as the MCC (Mennonite Central Committee), as well as vintage and consignment stores as well, so be sure to add these to your list.
Second, you’ll want to create a list of brands to keep an eye out for, unless you’re not too picky, but I like knowing the quality and worth of items I’m buying. So get to know some brands.
Third, know your size. Thrifting can be much quicker if you know your sizing. Make sure you know your shoe size, pant size, and shirt size – and no, I’m not only talking about letter-sizing. I’m also talking about actual measurements. Still, you’ll want to try everything on to make sure it fits properly.
Don’t expect a mall-like shopping experience. Thrift stores can be disorganized, smelly and downright gross. Be ready to sort through a lot of crap and meet some interesting people. If you’re looking for a shopping experience that is a bit more settling then thrifting, try checking out some local vintage or consignment stores instead. These stores offer more pleasant shopping experiences and better clothes, and as such prices will typically be a bit higher.
Go through as much as you can. Try not to skip sections and really sort through everything. Don’t rely on items to be in the correct spots. Typically the best finds are those that are least expected. If you go thrifting solely to find one specific item, you’ll likely be disappointed.
Make sure you try everything on before you buy it. If not, at least look at it carefully. A lot of items are donated because they’re damaged or stained. So don’t get caught surprised when you go home and realize the Ralph Lauren sweater you purchased has a big hole in it. That being said, don’t discard it just because of some minor issues. Missing buttons and small holes can be easily fixed, learn some basic sewing skills to aid your thrifting experience. Pants, shirts and jackets can also be tailored to fit you better if they’re not quite right – but expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $60, so make sure it’s worth it. Additionally, good shoes can be resoled and polished to look new again. So don’t overlook those beaten pair of Allen Edmonds just because they’re a bit scuffed up. A cheap shoe care kit can help you out.
Thrifting isn’t a once in a while kind of gig. If you want to find the best things, make sure you go often. There’s always something new to be found. If you work close to a thrift store, try going once a week on your lunch break. Some thrift stores will put more items out on certain days, so try and figure out which days are best to go. At Luster & Oak we do our best to put out dozens of new and quality items out every day.
After all is said and done, remember not only are you saving money for yourself, but you are also benefitting the environment and charitable organizations. Thrifting is eco-friendly and the majority of thrift stores donate a portion of your money to support good causes. Consignment and vintage stores are just as eco-friendly and many, like ours, help students and the like sell their clothes and make money back.
Ever wondered about all the vintage and consignment stores that Waterloo has to offer? We've compiled a list of the best consignment stores within the Uptown Waterloo area.
Vintage and consignment stores are starting to pop up all around Waterloo. Some of them are more well-known then others, and some of them you may have never heard of. Here is a break down of some of the top consignment and vintage stores in Waterloo and where you can find them.
Luster & Oak is a vintage and consignment boutique that focuses on newer, current clothing and accessories. We sell both mens and womens clothing, and focus primarily on selling towards students. You can usually find brands such as American Apparel, Wilfred, Talula, H&M, Stussy, and Zara at our shop, but we also get older vintage pieces as well. The majority of our clothes are consignment, so anyone can come in and sell their clothes at our store.
Luster & Oak | Vintage and Consignment Boutique
2 King St. South
Meow Boutique is one of the newer vintage and consignment stores on the block, but they deliver a great selection of pre-loved and vintage eco-friendly clothing at great prices.
Meow Boutique only sells women's clothing and accessories and is more geared toward the student demographic. What really sets them apart are the unique gifts and accessories they sell.
78 King St. North
"Patina Vintage values the long-lasting appeal of something that is well made and representative of past eras."
Patina's primarily carries ladies clothing and accessories.Their focus is on older, true-vintage items. It's a great shop to find iconic and time-tested vintage pieces.
Inside the Princess Twin Cinemas
46 King St. North
Twice is Nice is one of the original consignment stores in Waterloo. They've been around for over 20 years and counting. Their focus is on "fine quality, up-to-the minute pre-owned women's, men's and maternity fashions that are in style and in pristine condition".
They cater more to the older, business and business-casual demographic. They carry more exclusive, higher-end brands, such as Olsen, Calvin Klein, Eileen Fisher, Zegna, Boss, Armani, and Marc Aurel.
Twice Is Nice & Twice The Man Clothing
33 Erb Street West
White Tiger is a vintage boutique set in downtown Kitchener. They offer unique handpicked vintage clothes and treasures for both guys and girls.
If your looking for some more rockabilly and american style vintage pieces, they're a great place to shop.
White Tiger Vintage Boutique
248 King St. E
Want to be included on this list? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know about your vintage and consignment store.