Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Second Chance Thrift Boutique

Exploring Front Royal - Old Town Shopping

A Second Chance (Thrift Boutique)

317 E. Main Street

After 18 years serving the community of Front Royal, A Second Chance Thrift Boutique shut its doors on the last day of December 2012.  Thanks for the memories (and the goodies)!

Main:  autumn leaves on the village green are reflected in the front window of A Second Chance. 
Top right:  at the jewelry counter.  Lower right:  a vintage Japanese painted pitcher and Hummel figurine.

Anyone who knows me knows I can't resist a bargain. I spend a fortune on them, but 10% discounts at The Big Box Chain Store leave me cold. I'm looking for the Real Deal, and fortunately for me (and like-minded visitors) Front Royal is flush with great thrift shopping.

As you might expect, we have the standard Goodwill retail store: nothing out of the ordinary, but to be fair, I have found some Bargains-with-a-capital-B by visiting regularly. You'll find a Salvation Army Family Thrift Store on South Street - ours is a bit small, and treasure is a mite thin on the ground, although if you dig, you can sometimes find a bit of gold in the glitter. They have a nice selection of books at about half what Goodwill charges (if you want to visit the mother of all Salvation Army stores, try the one on Ball's Ford Road in Manassas).

On the courthouse end of Main Street in Old Town we have the Blue Ridge Hospice Thrift Shop, which gets top marks for presentation and for their great silent auction items (they're on my list to blog about, so stay tuned). The territory covered in today's little hunting expedition, however, is A Second Chance Thrift Boutique just across from the village green and gazebo at the corner of Main and High Streets. All proceeds from this shop benefit Harmony Place, a non-profit which aids victims of domestic violence. Every time I hand my Visa to the cashier I am cheered by the thought of some brute's frustration at his inability to get to his wife or girlfriend while she is safely ensconced in a Harmony Place shelter.

Veteran thrift shoppers are used to the industrial carpets, fluorescent lighting, and random stock which are the preserve of charitable thrifts. These stores don't invest a lot in ambiance, and I think we'd all be a little worried if they did. Second Chance is no exception to this rule, but they are bright, clean, and generally well organized, unless the staff of mostly elderly ladies hasn't yet had time to come behind some untidy shopper (very rare).

The store windows display seasonal or color-coordinated clothing, toys, and today, an arrangement of antiques and collectibles. As you walk in the front door you'll see a tiered stand with better bits of china and crockery on display. In the front section of the store you will find clothing (including a section of formal wear), accessories, shoes, a jewelry counter, and a row of outerwear against the far wall.

A Front Royal merchant confessed to me that she returned the expensive mother-of-the-bride ensemble she'd bought at a major retailer for her daughter's wedding because she found a nicer dress at Second Chance for $6.00! I recently found a pair of barely-worn Ralph Lauren boots with the original $99.99 price tag still intact. I paid $2.95. I know the idea of second-hand footwear might put some folks off, but I figure that's why God made Lysol and Dr. Scholl's shoe liners.

In the back is a book nook and a housewares section containing everything from furniture (mostly small in scale), rugs, bedding, knick-knacks, kitchen wares or whatever marketable thing has happened to be dropped off out back on any given day. There are often a few small kitchen and office appliances, but no major electronics.

Top left:  paisley shawl.  Top right:  detail of a platter decorated with pheasants. 
Bottom left:  a Chinese doll and Dick and Jane storybook.  Bottom right:  your guess is as good as mine.

A few of my Thrift Shop Scores from Second Chance include a Henredon table for the living room, a Shabby Chic bedding set (the name brand, not just a set that was shabby but chic-looking), two pairs of collectible Kenneth J. Lane earrings, my favorite Pucci-style dress, a Waterford crystal clock, several sets of Ralph Lauren sheets for our king size bed (again, this is why God made bleach and boiling water), two Spode blue-and-white wall plates, two pieces of pottery by a local artist which I had admired in another retail setting but could not justify purchasing, and a number of hardcover books that nobody (but you, dear reader) will ever suspect that I did not buy at Barnes and Noble. I've passed up some very smart-looking clothes that did not fit me, as well as a massive French needlepoint rug that I tried in every possible way to justify purchasing, even though it was bigger than any of my rooms. I eventually decided to leave it for someone else to love.

The next time you're out here admiring the changing leaves on Skyline Drive, take a detour to Main Street in Front Royal and pop in to Second Chance to see if you get lucky, and remember that your purchase will help provide assistance and shelter to abused women, thereby assuring that their abusers have a real bad day…or year.

A Second Chance Thrift Boutique welcomes your donations of clean, gently-used clothing, housewares, furniture, books and…wait for it…plastic grocery bags (for bagging up purchases - better way to recycle than taking them back to the grocery store).

A Second Chance Thrift Boutique
317 East Main Street 
Front Royal, VA 22630-3303
(540) 636-7020  

Store Hours - Monday - Saturday 10 am - 5 pm 
Donations Accepted - 9:30 am - 4 pm