Thrift Town: An Appraisal
There is an assortment of vintage and consignment stores in Honolulu, but a thrift store is in its own category. These typically sell second-hand goods to raise money for a charity. Thrift stores aren’t as nicely curated as, say the vendors are at Art & Flea, but you can find a jewel in the sand if you know where to dig. Plus, it’s an act of recycling, which is so in these days. And if you’re helping out a charity, hell, everybody wins.
The Salvation Army
William Booth converted drunks, hookers and thieves to Christianity with his Salvation Army in the late 1800s; today the group boasts some 1.4 million members worldwide. Even if you’re not a Protestant Christian Salvationist, you can still find a chaise lounge at their store on Nimitz Highway. Of all the thrift stores on Oahu, this one probably has the most furniture turnover.
I’ve seen them mark good stuff down to $5 or lower, seemingly just to get it out of the store. The Kailua location is big, with half the showroom devoted to furniture. The clothes section is equally vast, and rarely crowded. Selections are always changing, so if you spot something, grab it. That Tom Selleck decorative plate probably won’t be there next time (especially if I see it).
Savers is the funky one. A national chain like Goodwill and Salvation Army, Savers benefits various charities on Oahu and offers the most eclectic selection. There are two locations, both stocked well with clothes, purses, shoes, housewares and, at the Kalihi store, the best selection of used books outside the state library book sales ($1.99–$2.99 or as priced). Savers’s wall of sideways shorts is also a good bet for vintage Billabong or Jam’s World–I’ve heard that some of the stars of the Honolulu Museum of Art’s recent board shorts exhibition were “curated” here. As vast as Savers is, sometimes it can be overwhelming (especially around Halloween, when they load up their racks with prefab costumes). Another drawback: If you find that perfect Navajo blanket but somewhere the tag fell off, forget it. Untagged goods have to go through the merchandising system and get restocked on the floor before they’ll let you buy it.
Goodwill Industries of Hawaii
Goodwill is the fancy one. Hear me out: Goodwill Hawaii invests in local fashion, is involved in the upcoming Hawaii Fashion Month later this year and promotes local designers by hosting Goodwill Goes Glam, an annual event that showcases creative design using Goodwill finds. If it’s anything like last year, this year’s Glam sale (Sep. 20–22) will be a bargain hunter’s utopia.
The Beretania Street location has a good selection of midcentury furniture, housewares and (really) art pieces, but the wedding gown section is probably the saddest place on the island. The Kaimuki Goodwill is better organized and merchandised–their display window is a conversation starter, but sometimes Goodwill can forget it’s a thrift store and charge a lot for something it’s proud of.
Right now, wardrobe pieces from Lost, The River, Off The Map and Last Resort are rolling out as Goodwill itemizes donations from Sony Entertainment (who moved out of the Diamond Head Studios a few weeks ago). An estimated $15,000 worth of Sawyer/Hurley/Kate-wear will sneak into area Goodwills; look for the rack labeled “Sony Entertainment” on the sign.
Moiliili Community Center:
Holy Nativity Thrift Shop: Wed. and Fri., 9am–3pm, Sat., 9am–12pm, 373-3744, [holynativityhawaii.org]
Assistance League of Hawaii: