My first favorite thrift store is The Downtown Minneapolis Salvation Army located at 900 N. 4th St. This one is kind of legendary, because for years I had heard rumors that Target donated their samples, clearance items, overstocks, and returns to some secret location, but I could never figure out where. I do know that people have found racks of Target dresses or other new merchandise at Goodwill or other Salvation Army locations, but I believe this is where the majority of it goes.
The store is a little off the beaten path, just past the warehouse district. There is street parking and a lot located under what I think are the on- and off-ramps of Hwy 94. The large building is also an adult rehabilitation center so make sure you go to the North doors marked "Thrift Store." Once inside, you can browse through the traditional thrift store area of used and vintage items upstairs. But I wouldn't waste my time when you can head down the stairs to the "As Is" basement. Grab a cart or a basket and start digging. The basement is organized into departments, but haphazardly.
Last time I was here I bought a melamine serving set that had either been a display sample or been used in a photo shoot because the back of each dish had a foam prop stuck to it.
They always have a lot of lamps, end tables, bar stools, curtains, and decorative items like photo frames, vases, and candles. In general, I skip over those things because I like what I decorate with to be more intentionally chosen, and not what I happened to scavenge. Sometimes junk is junk, even if it's new.
The toy section is always a mess. I have not found many items in this area in the past because the toys are really random and often of the plastic-y Little Tikes/Fisher Price variety. This time, I found a boxed wooden dollhouse by KidKraft for $49 that was labeled as a returned internet purchase. I quickly looked it up with my iPhone to find out more about it. It originally retailed for $99 and includes the furniture, but was also a lot larger than what I plan to get Punky so I let it go.
One word of warning: examine every part of every garment. I found one pair of jeans I liked for Boo that had been cuffed. When I turned down the cuffs, I found they were being held there with double-sided tape but also that they had been sliced across. Maybe they had been used as a sample or even worn for a photo shoot and made to fit better, but they required more mending than I have time for. Sometimes some of the clothing is damaged, too, like it was nicked with a box cutter as it was being unpacked.
This particular shopping trip wasn't as productive as I've had in the past. But I found a few good items for the kids.
Genuine Kids jeans for $5. For a thrift store, you could do much better, but for brand new clothing in perfect condition, I call it a deal.
The shoes are from last season, and I wouldn't have bought them full price, but as it happens, Punky is having a hard time squeezing into her Chuck Taylors and I was on the lookout for a new pair of casual shoes in the next size up. For $4, I can live with the graphics. She went bananas when she saw them, as I predicted. She's a shoe girl, like her mama.
I have learned not to waste my time with the adult clothing. There's a lot of it, and it's organized by color, not size, so you would have to search for a long time. There are endless amounts of colorful Mossimo and Merona tee-shirts, but mostly in XS or XXL. There are purses, belts, jewelry, and shoes, but I don't often find anything interesting. This time I was a little peeved to see a wallet for $3 that I bought on sale at Target for $11 a few weeks ago.
My summery of this store is that it's hit or miss, depending on when the shipments of Target donations come in. Things were looking picked-over this time, but I've sometimes gone when it's almost overwhelming and I've spent well over $100 stocking up on kids clothes.
Tips: If you go, dress comfortably (without a coat, if possible) because the basement gets stuffy. Don't bring children- they have signs all over that if your children seem unattended they can ask you to leave. Don't go on a Sunday, as they are "closed for worship" and then what are you going to do waaaay over on the outskirts of Downtown?