• By: Keith Whittier

Three Fabulous Thrift Stores to Get You through the Holidays

Wearing mom’s old jeans from the eighties may not be a fashion faux pas anymore. The masses are flooding vintage and consignment stores, on the hunt for new, one of a kind finds with one of a kind prices. Despite the appeal of finding a diamond in the rough though, thrifting can be a hassle. We’ve all been there, the dusty racks, that thrift store smell. So let’s just skip the wild goose chase. We’ve narrowed down the top three vintage, thrift and consignment stores in the city bound to have you dressed to the nine(ties). 

Clothes picThe Clothes Secret

The Clothes Secret has become a beloved Glebe staple since opening its doors 24 years ago. 

“I decided to run the store after I had my first child,” Shop owner Valerie MacIntosh told us back in October. “I wanted to spend more time with her, so Chelsea and I opened the store together. She was 7 months old.” Chelsea is now in her twenties and still helps her mom run the shop. In fact, it has become a family affair, with both Valerie’s husband Yves and daughter Nathalie also joining the booming business. The Clothes Secret serves as one of Ottawa’s most established consignment stores, and after visiting the shop in person, it’s no wonder why. Encountering names like Ralph Lauren, Diane von Furstenberg, BCBG and Kate Spade is not uncommon. As a haute couture girl with an H&M budget, I was in love. As many cost cutters are, I am an avid online shopper. So of course I was curious as to what The Clothes Secret offered that the online market lacks. 

“You don’t get the value of having someone in the store helping you. We know your size, your career. People are tactile, they want to see it, try it on. You cant have a conversation with the computer, we have a conversation with you. We’re all about customer service and that’s always been a big part of our business.”

I had to agree, practically everyone who entered the shop was immediately greeted by name. Not only does the clothes secret offer one of a kind pieces, it offers one of a kind service. Definitely worth the trip to the Glebe.


Vintage and Bridal

Located in the heart of Centretown, Vintage & Bridal brings an airy and magic element to Ottawa’s bustling core.

Forthright in its name, this consignment boutique offers fantastic vintage and you guessed it, bridal pieces. What they don’t tell you is that there is also a fantastic array of accessories and even home wear. It really has a magic and whimsical aesthetic. If Etsy.com was a physical landmark (and not madly overpriced) this would definitely be it.

Society of St. Vincent De Paul

I must begin with a disclaimer; as I got off the bus to appraise St. Vincent De Paul I was met by the lingering aroma of hot dogs, and therefore was already delighted. Entering the shop, I noticed multiple boxes of amazing vintage records. Do I have a working record player? No. Did I want all of them anyways? For a dollar a piece, obviously. The finds didn’t stop at the door either. The shop boasts a massive selection of books, clothing, toys and furniture; all well sorted and even more well priced. By far the largest of the stores I visited, St. Vincent De Paul put all of their space to good use. From vintage HBC, to brand new Calvin Klein, I was blown away.

Featuring a highly anticipated and specially themed sale every few weeks, St. Vincent’s shop window is comparable to a heavily curated museum. Visually pleasing and with rock-bottom prices, it’s no wonder long-time supporters will line up as early as 4:30 a.m. to get their hands on some exceptional pieces.