A guide to thrift stores and resale shops on the West Side

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In these tough economic times, it pays to be thrifty, and a good way to stretch your dollars is to shop at thrift stores and resale shops.  Here’s a listing of some of the places to hit in and around Austin. Some are good spots for general merchandise, while others are more specialized. It may be a good idea to call ahead to see if the store has what you’re looking for and also to make sure the store will be open when you go. Happy hunting!

Salvation Army 5713 W. Chicago Ave.  (773) 287-9774   Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The Austin Salvation Army is a big, roomy store filled with all kinds of bargains. This branch – one of about 25 in Chicago – has a large selection compared to other Salvation Army’s, with a big inventory of clothes, jackets and furniture. The store has been in Austin for nearly 50 years, according to manager Johnny Waters, who’s worked there six years.

He said his biggest sellers were “probably women’s clothes.” Waters, who’s worked for the Salvation Army 12 years, said, “I like this one better than the others.”

There are numerous sales throughout the year at Salvation Army’s, with the next one Fourth of July weekend. Along with clothes and furniture, this location has large selection of books, dishes, glassware, VHS tapes, CDS, couches, stuffed animals, toys, boots, shoes, jackets and blazers.  There is a wide selection of leather jackets, which can run as much as $60, but most cost about $20 to $30.

Waters said his customers are not just Austin residents but come from all around. “Salvation Army customers usually hit all of them.”

Here are other Salvation Army locations close to Austin:

Salvation Army 4141 W. North Ave.  (773) 342-2068  Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Three floors at this location. Furniture and books in the basement; clothes, jackets and shoes on the first-floor and bric-a-brac on the second floor. Watch out for that basement – it floods.

Salvation Army 6536 Roosevelt Rd., Oak Park (708) 848-1181 Mon. – Sat. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

A smaller location with a similar selection of most other Salvation Army’s featuring lots of clothes and a good number of smaller appliances.

LDL Sales 5255 W. North Ave.  (773) 622-9262 Mon. – Sat. 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Owner Lawrence LeBlanc, who’s been here since 1998, calls his shop “a man’s candy store.” By that he means, if you are looking for any kind of electronic gadget, stereo or computer equipment, car sound system accessories or toy cars, he’s got it.

“You can find almost anything you are looking for,” he said. The place is packed to the ceiling with shelves full of all manner of electronics and other cool stuff, including DVDS, CDS, video games, jewelry, tools, musical instruments, speakers and bicycles. “Your eye will never stop going in circles because I bring stuff in everyday,” he said.  Lost your cell phone cord? Come here first to see if LeBlanc might have one.

$4.99 Dollar Store A Little This and That  5822 W. Division  (773) 287-3007  Mon. – Sat. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

While the window with the name is actually a storefront with new dollar store-type product, next door is a thrift shop. Sisters Elizabeth Bell and Shirley Askew run the two storefronts, and while the thrift store is small, it has a nice selection of things. Askew said she sells a lot of TV’s, dishes, pots and pans, and clothes. There are also quite a few books and ceramics. During the summer, the ladies also sell snow cones and “try and do a little barbequing.” Bell makes and sells her own sauce, too, called Virgin Mississippi Sauce, which is their mother’s recipe.

R and B Mini Mall 5618 W. Division  Mon. – Sat. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This is a small store front thrift shop that also sells a lot of new wholesale items like razors, adhesive tape, toilet brushes, hair care products, mouse traps and the like. There is also a nice selection of magazines, shoes and clothes. Employee Barbara said most of her customers come for “basically jeans.” Rubin Heath is the owner. Barbara said there’s no phone and to just stop by.

No-Name Storefront- 5512 ½   W. Division     Mon. – Sat.  10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This place has no name, but you’ll recognize it’s a resale shop from all the antiques in the windows, including an old gas pump at press time. The owner is a gentleman named Moses who is out on runs in his truck often.

The storefront is packed to the ceiling with various pieces of furniture, stereos, books, records and posters. Lots of weird stuff and has a proper junk shop kind of vibe. Since Moses is out a lot, the store is often closed for periods of time during the day. His hours are roughly 10 to 6 everyday but Sunday. There is no phone, so drop by to see if it’s open. It is worth the trip as new stock comes in frequently. If you don’t see something, ask Moses if he might have it in his truck; there usually is some stuff he has yet to bring in the store.

West Town Liquidators Inc 4150 W. Madison (773) 722-6900 Mon. – Sat. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the first Sunday of every month

Store president James Peal said West Town Liquidators is “not really a resale shop – we just sell merchandise, new and used.” This large West Garfield Park store has a variety of new and used appliances and furniture; that’s their specialty. You can also find power tools, paint and file cabinets, among other things, and there is a lot to look at.

“People come here for home furnishings, period,” said Peal. He should know; he’s been in business for 30 years and ran three locations in Oak Park with his father from 1981 to 1985.  The Madison location opened on June 6th, 1985.

Ann’s Attic 1314 N. Pulaski Rd.  (773) 772-3768  by appointment

This antique resale shop is located in West Humboldt Park, which borders Austin and West Garfield Park. Ann’s is owned by Ann Easter, a nearly 100-year-old woman who was recently profiled as “Someone You Should Know” on CBS2 by Harry Porterfield. Next door to the large wooden house that contains Ann’s Attic is N&L Pest Control, which was started by one of her sons. He passed away, and now Ann and her son James Easter run the business.

The antiques and other items are spread out on two well-organized floors in the house and two large garages behind the building. On the first floor there are about five rooms filled with old glass, dishes, Barbie dolls (still in their packages), paintings, photo albums, ceramics, mirrors, jewelry, clothing and knick-knacks.  In the basement are more rooms filled with books (some nearly a century old), records, board games, puzzles and magazines. According to her son, people come from as far as Japan to visit this wonderland of nostalgia. Employee Mary Roman has been in the process of organizing the garages and said, “You name it, she’s got it.”  Prices are reasonable, and if you visit the pest control storefront during the day, chances are good you’ll be able to look at Ann’s treasures. Ann’s is a must for antique lovers, and a great place to visit.

Buyers Flea  Market 4545 W. Division  (773) 227-1889   Sat. and Sun.  8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This is a weekly weekend indoor flea market housed in a massive one block-square building with two levels of parking and 50 cents admission fee. Lots of folks come out to this one. Buyers is a good place to pick up wholesale goods at very reasonable prices, individually or in bulk.

Brown Elephant 217 Harrison St., Oak Park (708) 445-0612  Mon. – Sun. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

One of three locations run by the Howard Brown Health Center, this one is five blocks from Austin in Oak Park.  This is a well-organized thrift store with a big selection of quality items. There are plenty of clothes, books, records and furniture along with other thousands of other items. The stock changes regularly, so it’s a good idea to visit every few weeks.


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