Thrifting veterans pity the fools who shell out more than $5 for an old frock at city vintage boutiques. The favorite haunts of retro clothing hounds are usually out of town — and carefully guarded. Yet Redwood City's thrift stores have been an open secret for a while. Off the quaint main drag downtown is one of the Bay Area's more popular thrifting spots, mostly because the pickings have been so plentiful, reliable, and heartwarmingly odd.
You can begin at Savers, a massive thrift “department store” known for its rich deposits of cool clothing, bizarre artifacts, and swell historical relics: Chanel party heels, reel-to-reel tape decks, '50s cashmere sweaters, amoeba-shaped Space Age '50s dishware — even a psychiatrist's couch! The 35-year-old emporium gets its merchandise from the Peninsula Association for Retarded Citizens, and the average price of an item on the floor is $3.50.
Just around the corner from Savers, Thrift City looks like something the cat dragged in. You'll need to do major digging to unearth treasures among the store's furniture, clothing, dishware, cameras, and toys. The star of the show, however, has to be the record collection, which ranges from Christmas music to AOR rock staples to obscure collectibles (such as the '50s exotica Hawaii Calls album). Proceeds go to veterans charities.
Not far away, at the Canned Food Grocery Outlet, a world of weird comestible close-outs awaits the gastronomically adventurous and downright brave. This brightly lit supermarket of expired products and import items is great for super-cheap canned goods, staples such as olive oil and tomato paste (though labels may be in Spanish or Korean), and just plain odd edibles such as Life Savers- or bubble gum-flavored soda, Harley beer, and vintage-'70s Qwisp cereal. Wine and spirits lovers with a sense of humor and a willingness to experiment will love this place.