“Look at this!” exclaimed my friend Karyn as she held up a 1950s watercolor silk dress, a rare thrift find. My other friend Merl gives a nod of approval as she carries an armful of 70s and 80s era clothing down an aisle to continue to peruse. An hour later, we make it to the shoe aisle and they both gasp as they spot a pair of 1970s wooden leather clogs, apparently another rare find.
And this all took place inside of Volunteers of America in South Lansing, a place I had never ventured inside before, but a place my Chicago friends could spend hours finding unique and rare vintage finds. We left with garbage bags filled with dresses, jackets, shoes and jewelry, a majority of which are impossible to find in larger city thrift and vintage shops (Here they are with their loot!
What might be picked over in Chicago or New York City, Lansing thrift stores are filled with gems that my big city friends like Karyn and Merl pine over and snatch up the moment they arrive. Karyn and Merl both sell vintage, and making trips to Lansing to hunt these rare pieces has been successful for stocking their shops and for their own closets. They’ve introduced me to a few of the best shops in town.
It’s interesting the perspective someone from outside of the Capital region can bring when they visit. Here I thought these were a bunch of dirty stores in sketchy neighborhoods, but it’s these stores where those vintage silk dresses, well-made classic shoes and designer pieces at a steal can be found.
Between this region’s thrift stores, vintage shops and consignment boutiques, we have plenty of unique shopping opportunities that we take for granted.
And I’ll be real, when I first start any “shopping trip,” it has always began online at Nordstrom.com or bluefly.com, but I’m becoming more and more interested in the thrill of the hunt and finding one of a kind pieces, at a price I can’t argue about. Last year, I started thrifting and shopping vintage for last fall’s trends in order to save money and find better quality pieces of clothing. And this year, for New York Fashion Week, I’ll do the same. I’ll be on the search for peplum tops, statement blazers and funky costume jewelry and I don’t doubt that I’ll be able to find these pieces locally in great condition.
We have people in this community so passionate about thrifting and shopping vintage, there are events dedicated to shopping these local stores together with the organizers sharing tips and tricks throughout the shopping journey. These events referred to as a “Thrift Crawl
” (essentially the same idea as a bar crawl) where the masses travel together in a pack from one store to the next until the crawl has reached its final destination. It’s a cool idea and a great way to really explore some of the unique places this area has to offer.
Here are a few of my favorite thrift stores in Lansing:
Volunteers of America
5411 South Cedar St.
St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store
5206 South Cedar St.
5353 West Saginaw Hwy.
15487 Old 27
For those who prefer a more curated collection of vintage clothing and/or designer items, visit:
2786 East Grand River Ave.
Lambs’ Gate Antiques
1219 Turner St.
1929 West Grand River Ave.
Andrea Kerbuski is the fashion columnist for Capital Gains.
Photos © Dave Trumpie
is the managing photographer for Capital Gains. He is a freelance photographer and owner of Trumpie Photography.