Best Thrift Store (2000)

Salvation Army

Most thrift stores are dusty-musty pits that you brave in hopes of making the Big Score; that is, finding that perfect, soulful piece of clothing at an insanely low price. By comparison, the Salvation Army on Washington makes a strenuous effort to be shopper-friendly. The big front windows let in natural light, and the place is neat as a pin. Someone has devoted surprising thought to displays: Up front, a family of mannequins models some of the latest acquisitions, and the western-wear section is bedecked with saddles and neon lights. The store even accepts credit cards. But can you still make the Big Score? Yes -- and in fact, you're probably more likely to unearth good stuff here than you would at a dusty-musty place. Mid-range designers' names often grace the racks, as do jeans and blouses you might have bought last year at the mall. But better still, the Washington Salvation Army offers more than its share of oddball vintage clothing: '60s polyester dresses in eye-popping colors; '70s urban cowboy shirts with glittery threads; even the occasional '80s ruffled prom shirt. You know these clothes led interesting former lives, and when you wear them, you feel more interesting yourself. Bonus: Manager Don Cairrel presides over the place as if he were hosting a party, joking with the clerks and offering new shoppers guidance through his wonderland. To the regulars, he quotes Shakespeare and Plato.

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