Thrift shopping is by nature a frustratingly mixed bag. Adding to that frustration is the fact that most stores within the District are either small, poorly curated, or so expensive they can hardly be called “thrift.” But the relatively roomy Sherman Avenue Salvation Army offers a selection of reasonably priced stuff whose quality suggests a real human being has vetted it. In addition to your standard used furniture and houseware—on a recent outing, I came home with a vintage Pyrex casserole dish whose lid was actually included—the store boasts a solid record collection and an array of vintage men’s shirts, ranging from cowboy to classic ironic tee, that remain in good shape.
Outside the city limits, meanwhile, Silver Spring’s Value Village/Unique Thrift Store is chock full of chaff and glorious, glorious wheat. The stores are technically separate, but they’re located under the same roof, separated by a bazaar in the corridor between the two emporia. Digging is unavoidable at both outlets—the stores have probably overwhelmed as many as they have delighted. On the delightful side, I’ve left with pots and pans that are both cheap and rust-free, not to mention a blue-jean jacket that no one believes was only $3. On the overwhelming side, I’ve also left with sore arms from all the digging required to unearth these treasures. Luckily, the stores are conveniently right off I-495, meaning you’re basically obligated to drive your weary body home.
3335 Sherman Ave. NW, (202) 829-0100, salvationarmyusa.org
10121 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring,
(301) 431-9670 (Value Village), valuevillage.com
(301) 431-7450 (Unique), uniquethriftstore.com