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5 Paths to Winter Adventure in Saranac Lake
From Your Home To Our Home

As I got ready for my thrift shop expedition, my husband cautioned me, "Now don't go crazy."

I don't know why he is always asking this of me. I consider my enjoyments to be springing from enthusiasm, and there's nothing wrong with enthusiasm. Like in the photo above, where I found a beautiful purple coat for only three dollars.

Who wouldn't be excited about that?

The lure of saving money is part of the thrift store experience, which has two opposing camps. There are those who are skeptical of getting clothing which someone else has "rejected." Then there are those, like myself, who know all too well that anyone can buy a nice item which is simply wrong for us, never gets worn, and is then set free to find a new, more suitable, home.

Thrift with width

Down at the end of Will Rogers Drive is the GoFish! Thrift Shop. It is room after room of cared-for clothes that are ready to wear and look great. This isn't fishing in a dumpster kind of secondhand clothes. These have been picked over by the dedicated volunteers who rotate stock seasonally and have plenty of suggestions when consulted.

The central hallway features paired outfits and framed art.

I wind up getting the coat I am modeling above, along with the frilly scarf hanging on the left. Because for a dollar, why not? This will mean one of my less-enjoyed coats will go into the donation bin. It's been only lightly worn (because it's not a favorite) and now someone else can enjoy it more than I have.

I think this process is reflected in the difference between the men and women sections here, and in other thrift shops. The women's area consists of two of the biggest rooms, while the men's section is only part of one. The men I know don't buy anything unless they really like it, and then they will wear it into the ground.

While women are more likely to gamble.

It's fun to browse when there is a guarantee nothing is going to be that expensive. I find a pair of pretty jeans and a pullover so soft I know these will become a favorite for home wear.

Another great angle is the abundance of kid stuff, from hats and coats to toys and games. The thrift store has become the way older children in the community can pass on things to younger children, because they don't have to be in the same family.

Go Fish! is open Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There are dressing rooms. Please bring cash.

Thrift with depth

For an even higher quality browse, try the vintage clothing store on Broadway, near the river. Main Street Exchange is where I found a 1960's velvet opera cloak. It immediately went home with me.

This is a place which puts their best stuff out where people can see it.

Outside the door is the dollar rack. Moving inside, we find a charming reception area where some higher-end items are displayed, along with jewelry under glass. A large room in the back has racks and shelves of mostly clothes, but also hats, belts, bags, and accessories.

Another thing about thrift shopping is that sizes are only the start. We have to try them on to make sure they will fit. Back in 1958, Marilyn Monroe was a size twelve. But that was a very different time. Her dress would be a size four today, or even smaller. The famously slender Twiggy was a size 8 that year. Today, she would be a 00.

Companies do "vanity sizing," where the clothes are larger than the tag would suggest. Some companies, who are under contract to come up with a certain number of items in a certain size, wind up tagging things according to their contract, not their size.

I was very tempted by a gorgeous black velvet coat, but it had an oversized collar that didn't work for me. With my husband's cautions echoing in my head, I realized I was already bringing home one bag of clothes.

But I will be back.

Main Street Exchange is closed Sunday and Monday. They are open Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. through 5:30 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. through 4 p.m. They take cash, or debit and credit cards.

Fun of frugal

One of the reasons a selection of reasonably priced clothes might be of interest is when you arrive for a visit, and there are gaps in your wardrobe. Maybe those gloves aren't quite warm enough. Maybe you realize a hat makes more sense in the Adirondack woods than it did in your bedroom where you packed.

But I also like seeking out thrift stores in new places because I will be seeing different kinds of things. People tend to shop the places close to them, at least, they used to. Now, online shopping is popular because it puts a lot more variety in front of us. This can lead to more variety in the vintage stores of the future.

Whatever the reason, treasure hunting is its own kind of fun, whether it is practical, or not.

Come mid-week to save on lodging. Be alert at change of season, when our guides and outfitters offer discounts for less busy times, or have lightly used gear for sale.

Author:Pamela Merritt
5 Paths to Winter Adventure in Saranac Lake
From Your Home To Our Home

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