Some of my favorite childhood memories come from staying up late with my grandma on Friday nights, circling yard sale ads in the newspaper. We would wake up absurdly early on Saturday mornings, hop in her navy blue El Camino and roam the streets of Southaven, Mississippi in search of the best crap that we could find – and that we most definitely did not need.
I learned at an early age to search out My Little Ponies in mountains of Hot Wheels, beautiful dresses in bags of stained Old Navy shirts, and vintage purses in boxes of fanny packs. This practice naturally evolved into a love for thrift stores and resale shops. Now more than 20 years later, thrifting is still my hobby. My past time. My obsession. Ultimately, it’s the thrill of finding one amazing, unique thing that could easily be gone tomorrow if you don’t find it in time.
Five years ago this month, I moved to Fayetteville from Memphis. It took me a while to get familiar with the thrift stores in the area, but eventually searching for old treasure is how I learned to navigate the streets of my new town. Some of my favorites weren’t easy to discover, but now that I’m beyond familiar with the local shops (I used to frequent them at least once a week), I thought I would share my five favorite thrift stores/resale shops in Washington County. If I’m leaving out any of your favorites, please share which stores you love and what makes them so great. And even if you’re not a big thrifter, hopefully this can at least give you some ideas of where to donate that big bag of clothes that’s been hiding in your closet for the last 6 months.
1. Northwest Medical Center Thrift
400 Park Street, Springdale | Map/Phone/Hours
I have to say, this little half-barrel building is one of my all time favorite thrift stores (and I’ve been to my fair share). The employees are volunteers, so this one has some odd hours, but is worth checking out on your lunch break. The prices are cheap and the vintage-to-junk ratio is very much in your favor. In the past I’ve found some great 70s boots, vintage sundresses, & even some awesome old Razorback apparel.
2. Arkansas Council of the Blind Thrift Store
1840 E Emma Ave #B, Springdale | Map/Phone/Hours
This thrift store is located right down the street from the Springdale rodeo and it shows. They have a constantly revolving selection of pearl snap western shirts that are surprisingly becoming pretty tough to find in Arkansas these days. Don’t miss the retro clothing section hidden in the back corner or the fresh veggies for sale at the counter! Sometimes they even give away food and I’m not ashamed to say I left there with a bag of muffins once.
3. Cheap Thrills
120 S East Ave, Fayetteville | Map/Phone/Hours
Although not technically a thrift store, I just couldn’t leave this one out. The Cheap Thrills experience takes out what I love so much – the thrill of the hunt. But if you don’t like digging through trash to find treasure, this is your best bet. Except for the costume section in the back, the vintage clothing is arranged by decade – how nice is that? But don’t think that the back room is for Halloween season only. They have lovely Mexican embroidered dresses that are perfect for summertime wear, plus some other items that can be worn year round if done right. Another fantastic thing about Cheap Thrills is that they sell gently worn “fancy blue jeans.” If you check back often enough, you might just find a pair of Sevens or True Religions in your size for around thirty to forty bucks (less than half the original cost). Besides clothing, they have a jewelry section that is not to be missed.
4. The Attic
221 S School Ave, Fayetteville | Map/Phone/Hours
My idea of a perfect afternoon is grabbing an iced latte at Arsaga’s in the library and wandering around the corner to this always-bustling shop. Located in the heart of Fayetteville, The Attic offers an affordable assortment of loot that’s always being replenished. Don’t pass up the sale bins in the front – if you dig a little you’re likely to come away with a bag full of thrift-goodness for under a buck. The shoe section in the back is pretty sweet too. It’s near impossible to find vintage shoes in my size (9 ½), but for some reason this store always has something to offer me and my big feet.
5. Life Ministries Resale Shop
881 Stills Rd, Prairie Grove | Map/Phone/Hours
Oh my beloved little Prairie Grove thrift store! Although a bit of a drive, this shop is another one of my all time favorites. The prices are as cheap as you can get and I always come away excited with a big bag of goodies, much to my husband’s dismay. Like many other thrift stores around town, Life Ministries is completely run by volunteers. Even though the hours are slim, I’m told there’s usually someone there seven days a week sorting through the donations and keeping the aisles tidy. In the past I’ve found awesome old concert tees, vintage boots, and the cutest retro sundresses. Overall, this one is well worth the trip.
- Bring cash – Except for Cheap Thrills and Springdale #2, the aforementioned stores don’t take credit cards. Make sure you bring cash or have your checkbook handy (in-state checks only).
- Bring hand sanitizer – You will thank me later.
- Check the hours – Most thrift stores are closed on Sundays and Mondays, but even then, the hours are often wonky. Check out Local540 before you make the journey.
- Consider a tailor – Find something cute, but it doesn’t fit? That’s probably the hardest thing about shopping at thrift stores. Consider taking the item to a local tailor for a custom fit. This is still usually cheaper than buying something brand new, plus it makes for a one-of-a-kind outfit.
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Sarah Fortune Gill Sarah is a guest contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She enjoys taking photos for Flyer Faces, scavenging for vintage clothing, and obsessing over Razorback basketball. For more of Sarah’s contributions, visit her author page