Reporter’s Notebook: My Ultimate Twin Cities Thrift Crawl


A haiku:

Life is tough at times

One thing helps me feel better

Going thrift shopping

Imagine a mom-and-pop shop with clothing, art, shoes, games, toys, books and all other sorts of physical media that does not market toward a specific gender or age group, that welcomes all budgets, heights and waist sizes.

As far-fetched as it sounds, this place exists: it is a thrift store. Including those that sell antiques, there are about a dozen in the Twin Cities.

On the downtown Centralia strip alone, Google maps lists four of these little slices of paradise. Just as the Tower Crawl attracts bar-hoppers to the strip on the night before Thanksgiving, AntiqueFest brings vendors and shoppers to Tower Avenue in early August for ultimate haggling and hoarding.

For the last few months, I have spent my rare free weekday afternoons crafting my own crawl to hit my favorite thrift stores in the Twin Cities in succession — no designated driver necessary.

I begin by sneaking out of The Chronicle in the early afternoon and hoping nobody notices. The first stop is just a few blocks away, at Visiting Nurses in Centralia.

I am a bit biased, as I worked for the nonprofit in the Chehalis store one summer, but the mission of assisting hospice patients and families is something a shopper can get behind.

Besides offering freely-loaned medical equipment, this store is great for a wide variety of thrifters. The clothing section is substantial, mugs span as far as the eye can see and there is a hefty selection of board games. However, it is not where I would go to find books, CDs, cassettes or vinyl.

For the widest assortment of physical media, we need to move to the next stop: Reliable Enterprises’ New Life Thrift Store.

In the Sunbirds building, once home to the Kiwanis Club’s favorite meeting venue, “The Restaurant,” what this store lacks in clothing it makes up for in media and gear for my favorite pastime: making and drinking coffee. At this store nearly two years ago, I purchased an espresso machine for $6 that, when new, was worth about $200. Hundreds of oat milk lattes later, it still plays a central role in my morning routine.

While unpredictability is a key piece of the thrifting charm, New Life Thrift Store does typically hold an impressive collection of sewing fabrics and glass chotskies, such as Delft clogs and painted bells. And again, shopping here is giving to a good cause. Reliable Enterprises runs many important programs in Lewis County for people with disabilities and other at-risk populations.

To get to the next stop on the crawl, one does not even need to leave the parking lot. Aglow each night with a flashing neon “THRIFT STORE” sign, Thrift Center can be found on the other end of Chehalis Outfitters.

This place, like most thrift stores, has a lot of dishes and CDs. But, that’s not why I go there. Though the organization of the racks by color is about the most chaotic way I imagine clothes could be displayed, Thrift Center is my number one pick for highly affordable, cute clothes.

Actually, affordable is an understatement. When I walk out the door with a bag of clothes, it feels like I should be arrested for stealing.

If the racks of shirts for 33 cents each weren’t enough, the entire store is marked down by 50% twice a week. Plus, your receipt counts as a 50% off coupon for up to two weeks after your visit.

By this time on the crawl, I’m typically ready for a bread layer. Without needing to leave the same parking lot, I’ll often visit Jeremy’s fruit stand and buy my favorite gluten free, chocolate chip treat made by Adna-based Pacific Northwest Cookie Company.

Then, it’s on to the Chehalis Visiting Nurses. Again, my bias here is worth noting, but I truly have yet to find another thrift store with a better puzzle selection.

The last time I patronized this store on a puzzle search with a fellow thrifter, a stranger advised that we buy the 1,000 piece box to “test our relationship.”

This store also tends to have a great shoe selection and several shelves of knick-knacks. Here, I purchased my favorite mug of all time, which is shaped like a Canada goose. The bird’s neck is the handle.

Before the crawl is over, there is one more vital stop. In the same building as the Chehalis Ace Hardware, is a Second Time Around Thrift Store, which benefits the Lewis County Senior Centers.

Besides this benefitting the senior centers and boasting yet another impressive book and CD collection, this store takes the cake for best craft supplies section. At the front counter, customers can pick up a free copy of the Lewis County Seniors monthly newsletter, which is produced by Devaul Publishing.

After half a dozen stores, for less than $100, my journey ends with a trunk full of one man’s trash. Best of all, it’s cheaper than therapy.


This story is an opinionated first-hand account from a reporter who is also a resident of the Twin Cities. No thrift store employees or owners were consulted in its creation and nobody paid to be included on this list. If your favorite thrift store deserves a shout-out but wasn’t on this list, email


Visiting Nurses Centralia

222 S. Pearl St., Centralia

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday

11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday


Reliable Enterprises New Life Thrift Store

1757 N. National Ave., Chehalis

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Closed on Wednesdays


Thrift Center

1685 N. National Ave., Chehalis

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day


Visiting Nurses Chehalis

453 NW Chehalis Ave., Chehalis

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday

11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday


A Second Time Around Thrift Store

749 S. Market Blvd., Chehalis

9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday