Recently I was reminded that North and West Vancouver are the perfect destination for a secondhand safari. Both communities have a wide selection of secondhand shops as well some of the best church rummage sales in the spring and fall.
Most shops are accessible by transit but if you plan to make several stops, might be better to go with friends and organize a fun road trip for the day. This way, you have more room for some of the treasures you will find along the way as well as snacks and water.
Whether you are looking for something specific, or just like to browse, there are many different types of secondhand shops on the North Shore. These include everything from thrift stores to consignment and antique stores. I tend to enjoy the thrift shops best and will mostly focus on those for this outing. But I will include a few of the other stores along the way.
Case in point, my first stop was at Urban Repurpose in North Vancouver (440 Brooksbank, North Vancouver). This non-profit wants to help people change how the way we see waste. They opened their store last June and have already developed quite a following of both shoppers and donors. And with their rather large warehouse space with their own parking lot, they have an eclectic selection of items that range from building materials and tools to furniture, appliances and housewares to collectibles and unique memorabilia. They even had a shelf full of free books near the entrance.
But they don’t just want to sell you these secondhand items, they also want to teach you how to repurpose them and develop new uses for harder to reuse materials. They plan to offer a variety of what they call “upcycling” workshops as well as do public outreach where possible. Unfortunately, they are also currently looking for a new location as they will need to leave this space by May 31st, 2018.
From there I made my way to Lonsdale and 15th Avenue and found myself in a small but vibrant thrift shop that oozed a wonderful sense of community that could be felt through the busy aisles. I am referring of course to the Auxiliary to the Lions Gate Hospital Thrift Shop (128 15th Street W) which I quickly learned is a much loved institution on the North Shore. Having been in operation since the early 60s, this iconic thrift store which is run completely by volunteers, continues to be an important fundraising arm for the hospital as 100% of the proceeds (minus basic expenses) go back to the hospital. In 2017, this worked out to just over $277,000.
But, they also provide a wonderful service to the community as they carry a wide selection of clothing, accessories, housewares, jewellery, collectibles, paintings, and so much more…all reasonably priced. And the volunteers are incredibly friendly, knowledgeable and helpful…knowing most of the regulars by name. They also make the tiny space work, although I am told they could definitely use more help and a bigger space and maybe one with access to better parking.
Down the road, just off of Lonsdale and 3rd Street, is The Good Stuff Connection Thrift Shop (154 West 3rd Street). Another small but mighty thrift shop which offers good quality, low cost clothing, footwear and accessories as well as a wide variety of books, toys, and jewellery. Sales help support the North Shore Crisis Services Society programs for women and their children who are experiencing abuse.
Next on my stop was the Salvation Army Thrift Store located just off Marine Drive and Fell Avenue (1451 Fell Ave.). This iconic building, with easy parking out front, has two floors filled to the brim with just about everything you can imagine. It is a popular destination with dealers and collectors as they have a well curated selection of jewellery, antiques and collectibles. I was also impressed with their substantial collection of books but was discouraged to find that books were not arranged in any particular category. Made it very difficult to find what I was looking for (i.e., cookbooks).
There is also another Salvation Army Thrift Store on Lonsdale Avenue (241 Lonsdale Avenue)…the book section here is organized by category and they also have some furniture as well as housewares, clothing, jewellery, collectibles, small appliances and more. Parking can be a bit of a challenge, but there is free one hour parking on some of the side streets nearby. Over in West Vancouver, you can find their third North Shore location at 1582 Marine Drive, West Vancouver. This location is a bit smaller than the other two but carries a wide array of housewares, small appliances, clothing, accessories, collectibles and a well-organized book section.
From there I made my way to the SPCA Thrift Store (1523 Pemberton Avenue) which is found just off of Marine Drive. It is an unlikely spot for a secondhand shop, but one that offers ample free one hour parking and a space big enough to have a room specifically designated for large and small pieces of furniture.
There is also a nicely organized book selection, a room set aside for housewares and another for china, silver and collectible glassware. But you can’t leave without also heading upstairs to check out clothing and accessories. Last but not least, they also carry gently used pet supplies for every type of pet you can imagine!
And, down a few blocks is Consignment Canada (171 Pemberton Avenue). This family run consignment business is well respected on the North Shore, and should be a destination for anyone looking for beautifully crafted furniture. But they also carry a well-curated selection of everyday items for the home and office (e.g., artwork, housewares, lighting, rugs, etc.) as well as some stunning vintage jewellery.
If you are looking for something specific, it is worth checking out their Web site as they post pictures of most items that come in to the store and offer some helpful tips on their blog. But, I must say that one of the biggest draws for me is Pepper, their lovely corgi that hangs out in the office but takes time away from playing to greet customers as they come in.
There are of course many other consignment, antique and secondhand shops on the North Shore…all well worth exploring. In particular, there is another thrift sale in one of the local churches that happens every Thursday, but I promised a good friend that I wouldn’t publish the location. This is one of her favourite spots and only took me to it if I would keep it to myself. Promised kept…but if you live on the North Shore you probably know what I am talking about! Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention some of the upcoming 2018 spring rummage sales:
West Vancouver Senior’s Centre Annual Flea Market
Sunday, April 22 from 9a.m. – 3p.m.
West Vancouver Ice Arena
786 – 22nd Street, West Vancouver
West Vancouver United Church Spring Flea Market
Saturday, May 5th from 8:30am – 2:00pm
2062 Esquimalt Ave, West Vancouver