Outside the Oreo

Lauren Piro

I’ve talked about money (or lack thereof) before in this column, both as a sign of the times and within the average college students’ spending threshold. Though more so I want you all to experience the unexpected on the Main Line and Philly, which coincidently often doesn’t cost more than the effort to find it. On my jaunt up Lancaster this week, I stumbled across just that sort of find — the Greene Street Consignment Shop in Bryn Mawr.

I know what you’re thinking. Consignment shop? Like thrift store? Like where they made me stack yellow glasses from the ’70s and shoulder-padded blazers while logging my community service hours for Confirmation? Like … old stuff?

Well, yes, this is what I mean. But this is also what I mean by cheap finds in unexpected places. One step into Greene Street and, I’ll admit, you will probably think that this is where all your mothers’ “young” clothing went to die. Faded pastels, chiffons, art-deco-inspired prints — yes, all of the ugly you can find is there. But as I dug through racks of varying sizes, it wasn’t long before I noticed some true contenders for my wardrobe — at super nice prices.

I’ll start with the true gold — designer pieces. Greene Street boasts that it carries everything from “Gap to Prada,” and I can’t say they are exaggerating. Seven jeans starting at $26 — both men’s and women’s — Marc Jacobs denim at $22 and Lily Pulitzer dresses and skirts for $28 all passed through my hands. Sure they’re last season, but guess what? Jeans are jeans, and what was a pretty floral last spring still is now. Other finds: Dior sunglasses for $44, clutches from Aldo and the Limited for $8 and the glimpse of a label embroidered with “Vera Wang.” Not bad for a thrift store.

If you can’t score a designer item in your size (it is hit or miss), look further for some vintage-y or fun items. Sparkly dresses are perfect for when you’re in a formal-wear pinch and eclectic necklaces and brooches straight from your grandmother’s jewelry box are great for that ’20s theme party you’ve been planning. Need a fun hat or crazy shirt for Halloween? Other Main Liners’ cast-offs are your treasures.

Skip the shoes and purses, many of which are more old-lady than cute vintage, but many of the bags could make a good carry-all for the beach.

Plus, if you’re looking to unload some of your bulging closet, Greene Street can help you out there, too. They accept a minimum of 10 items for consignment that they deem acceptable. If the items sell within 60 days, you get 40 percent of the commission. Not a bad result of that spring cleaning you’ve been planning to do since, well, last spring.

Here are some other great thrift stores I found or heard about this week:

Bryn Mawr Hospital Thrift Shop:

This one was surprising even to me, but recent ‘Nova grad Tom O’Keefe was quick to remember how great his friends have found it in the past.

“I’ve actually never been, but my friends have bought full suits, shirts and Halloween costumes from there,” he says.

Expect clothes here, but also furniture and “bric-a-brac,” as the store calls it. You can consign here as well, but there are more rules and a yearly fee.

Plaid Pony Vintage:

This Philly Fishtown-based vintage shop offers a great online shopping feature where you can search for clothes by style and category. Peruse a wide variety of accessories and housewares as well, and skip Anthropologie’s pricey vintage-like plates and cups for the real thing. Prices are indeed frugal for these ’50s through ’80s unique pieces. Plus, there’s a T-shirt section sure to make you feel like a teen again. Backstreet Boys circa 2000 T-shirt for 15 bucks? You know you want it.

Circle Thrift:

With two locations in Philadelphia, Circle Thrift has a huge selection of clothes, accessories and housewares, plus a socially conscious mission statement to boot. The stores are formed around providing inexpensive clothing, creating jobs, building community and supporting the Christian organization Circle of Hope as well as the Mennonite Central Committee, which works towards ending poverty and a number of other social issues around the world. Volunteer at the thrift store, and get even better deals with a 20 percent discount.