Written by Marcella Brylski
While you probably won’t find designer labels or long-lost works of art in Hillsdale-area second-hand stores, there are many little treasures waiting to be found. It just takes a creative eye and a little bit of patience. And, of course, you can’t complain about the prices. Here’s a look at the second-hand stores in the Hillsdale area and the sorts of things you can expect to find there.
Salvation Army Family Store | 2940 W. Carleton Rd., Hillsdale, MI
A classic, with locations nationwide. The Hillsdale Salvation Army (“Salval” in the lingo) is relatively close to campus—a five-minute drive, and walkable if you have an afternoon—and is the go-to for Hillsdale students, whether committed thrifters or last-minute costume shoppers. You can spend hours sifting through racks of ’80s sweaters and blouses, pick up some cheap furniture for your dorm or off-campus house (I’ve found chairs for five dollars and less), or find all sorts of things from mugs to records to fun earrings. I’ve spent many great Friday afternoons at Salval and have come away with some fantastic finds from ’80s jeans to a patterned pink and woven cane chair. And a bonus: Salvation Army is usually having at least one kind of color tag sale, whether it’s a certain percent off of a color or five items of one color for five dollars. What a steal!
Hillsdale Community Thrift | 390 W. Carleton Rd., Hillsdale, MI
Just down the road, and a little closer to campus, is Hillsdale Community Thrift. This shop opened more recently, and while the selection is a little less expansive than Salvation Army’s, there are a lot of great things to be found: furniture, crockery and kitchen items, vases, and cute jars. My sister scored a giant stock pot that has been absolutely invaluable for our off-campus house. Plus, as a non-profit seeking to help both the needy and other non-profits in the area, shopping at Community Thrift supports a great cause.
Hog Creek Antiques | 10750 Chicago Rd., Allen, MI
This antique store is, admittedly, not in Hillsdale. It’s a great Saturday afternoon trip, though, and you can easily spend a few hours here. Hog Creek Antiques is one of many antique stores and malls in Allen, MI (which brands itself the Antiques Capital of Michigan), a village with a population of around a hundred. While there are a lot of antique stores, I love this one for its variety of vendors, each of whom has a different taste in collecting and sells his or her wares in different parts of the store. As with most second-hand stores, the best way to do it is to go with an open mind and just browse. Some of my favorite finds were a giant, caramel-colored cowhide rug (very cool, very quirky, and very much out of my price range), huge stacks of vintage fabric and scarves (great for unique dorm room decor or headbands, and very affordable—you bet I stocked up!), and a corner full of beautiful vintage clothing. This is also where I got my current desk, a rustic 18th-century piece that was only slightly out of my price range.
Goodwill | 398 Willowbrook Rd., Coldwater, MI
Okay, this one isn’t in Hillsdale either, and you’re definitely going to need a car to get here. This one is also a great Saturday morning kind of trip, though, and it’s part of what has been called the “Coldwater trinity:” Aldi for a stock up on food, Blue Hat Coffee for studying, and Goodwill to fill your thrifting needs. If you have a car or can find a way to get here, the thirty-minute drive is worth it, at least once in a while. The Coldwater Goodwill has a slightly larger and more up-to-date selection than Hillsdale’s Salvation Army, though you can still count on the ’90s and early 2000s vibes too. A friend of mine found a pair of Loft corduroys, for example, and I remember seeing a wide range of dresses, some funky and retro, some more current in style.
Marcella Brylski, ’20, grew up in the great state of Minnesota, where she learned to love sunny fall days and distance running along the Mississippi River. She studied English and Greek at Hillsdale and takes great joy in unexpected conversations with friends, discovering contemporary poets, and unearthing treasures at the local thrift store.