Our farmers' markets are more than a source of great produce. They can be a treasure hunt for arts and crafts. But when fall's harvest season draws to a close, there's no need to give up the hunt.
We also have a lovely variety of thrift stores and vintage shops.
On a recent hunt, I toured the Lake Champlain Region offerings, from Keeseville in the north to Ticonderoga in the south. There are listings and even a handy map on our thrift store page.
It's a gorgeous scenic drive, taking Route 22, and then Route 9, all the way along the Lake Champlain coast.
Keeseville is a place for bridges, architecture, and, it turns out, delightful thrift shop finds. At the United Methodist Thrift Shop, downtown, the basement is crammed with items, but also well-organized and even has some charming displays (as seen in the header photo.)
I have brought a friend to provide a well-rounded view of the merchandise. He also needs some winter things, which adds a sense of purpose to our quest.
The cheerful ladies who run the place are very helpful. I am immediately drawn to this lovely display, especially because of the hat. Black velvet? Check! Rose on it? Check! Vintage? Check!
But there is the snag. People of the past tend to be smaller than myself... and that includes their heads. Regretfully, I have to leave this darling hat for some other lucky lady.
My friend fares far better. He find a pair of gloves with the touch-sensitive fingertips that lets him work his phone in the cold ($1), a barely-used winter hiking jacket with plenty of pockets ($5), and even a lightweight knit hat for under his new-to-him hood ($1).
I find a beautiful sweater coat for only $6, and a pair of name brand insulated hiking boots, barely used, for only $20. My faithful old ones had just worn out, too.
What a thrilling haul on our first stop.
The workers at the Elizabethtown Thrift Shop have an entire ground floor of a house to work with. Thanks to the ecumenical efforts of four local churches, volunteers keep it filled with a wide variety of items.
It is a busy place, already filled with shoppers. We meet and greet five people just getting through the door.
With more floor space, these displays are more abundant and there's more room to browse, almost like the setup of a regular store. There are also elegant details everywhere, from the vintage-style lighting which shows off the detail on the ceiling to the grand staircase leading to the second floor, which is unrelated office space.
Having found so many nice things at our last stop, we are in even more of a browsing mood. Going through my winter clothes, I have just had to retire some sweaters as too worn for further wearing. So I am pleased to find a lovely one for only $6.
One item I think I can never have too many of is outerwear. Here in the Adirondacks, we have a full range of possible weather. Sometimes within the span of the same week during these transition times of year, when one season overlaps into the next, we'll vary from short sleeves to winter gear and back again. So I am always interested in filling a gap in my layering options. I find a simple gray hat that will go with anything for only $1, and a dressy blazer for $6.
Of course, the sweater is marked as a ladies medium and the blazer is a size sixteen, but both fit me well. There is a fitting room to sort out these challenges, because no one can trust the clothing labels which come from such a wide source of companies, and eras.
A surprise lurks around every corner, from the floor mural to the many sets of holiday-themed glassware and plates. There are items the proprietors call "thinga-ma-jigs" and "whats-it-hoozies." I have to agree that these are good terms for things that might be just what you are looking for, even if you don't know what to call it.
There are two kid's rooms, and I am happy to spend some time in the infants and toddlers section, since I have a grand-niece to consider these days. After all, I want to be a grand and great aunt.
I found this adorable item that I must send off as soon as I can. They grow so fast at this age, which I'm sure led to so much to choose from with the barely used items in this room.
Rolling the dice
We pushed on to TIconderoga, looking for Trendy Threads, a consignment store. But when we got there, we discovered that time had turned it into Hidden Treasures, a clothing store which stocked new goods, and had changed its hours. We couldn't look around so we settled for enjoying the window displays.
We also got here too late for their local United Methodist Church Thrift, which closes at 2 p.m. on Wednesdays. But we could hardly complain about our full day of discovery.
Even my husband, who was unable to accompany us, was gifted from this trip. He's both fussy and hard to fit, so I was not surprised I didn't find anything for him in our thrift store hunt. But we drove through Crown Point, home of Gunnison's Orchards, and their fantastic gift shop.
This time of year my guy has a standing order for Gunnison's famous apple cider doughnuts. I get a full dozen, because my friend "wants to help." It's very altruistic of him to prevent my husband from eating the whole dozen by himself. He tenderly places the doughnuts in the back seat, "because they will get too cold in the trunk."
Gunnison's also has pies. The apple pie is from their own orchards of course, but I choose my husband's sentimental favorite, strawberry rhubarb. Gunnison's is also in the business of not making it easy to choose among their baked goods, honey and maple syrups, artisan soaps and candles, stuffed animals, and much more.
My friend and I went into this not knowing what to expect, and the unexpected is what we got. But that is the charm, and the gamble, of thrift stores.
You don't know what you'll find.
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