I have come to the conclusion that for-profit thrift store chains are among the grungiest and most disgusting places in Chicagoland. I have frequented enough stores to theorize that thrift stores that benefit a cause put far more time and effort into choosing and displaying items with some care and forethought. The exception to this rule – the Salvation Army Family Thrift Stores which I previously blogged about.
The Village Discount thrift store chain receives my top grunge award for surpassing the helter skelter, dirty slammin’ style of the uniquely sleazy Unique Thrift Store chain. It truly Takes a Village to put the VD back into thrift. The shoes in particular look like they are crawling with VD – I should have worn a Hazmat suit when I visited the store yesterday at 2032 N. Milwaukee. Most of the workers who stock goods wear masks and rubber gloves – I’m not kidding. I saw one worker snarling and looked disgusted as he threw items back onto a shelf in the electronics area. Pardon the expression – more a tangled pile of mainly broken, unusable goods from the looks of it. Most of the items are indeed cheap, but consider that many should be thrown out …
Each of the other locations that I have visited has its own particular identity, but all share in common many traits – dirty shoes, tons of clothes, messy, cluttered piles of toys and housewares, and some unsavory clientele. If I have a favorite, I guess it is the Roscoe Village store, but that isn’t saying much. The only reason is that I found two really great pieces at this store over a 15-year-period – a Roseville vase and an enormous vintage head vase missing one finger that I have yet to finish restoring. My least favorite location is the store at 4635 N. Elston – the last few times I went there it was beyond disgusting, crawling with weirdos, and the selection was meager.
Here are a few items with photos that best illustrate my theory about Village Discount:
- Unidentified shoes crawling with herpes and a flapping tongue – $2.90
- Totally worn-out Havana Joe shoes minus the shoelaces – $5.90
- Wildly kitschy hat – a bargain at $1.90 if you dare
- A stunning array of plastic housewares, etc.
- Who would actually give these dirty toys to their kids?
- A tangled mess we weave when we try to deceive the customer with broken electronics
- A lovely assortment of tote bags and cheap purses – nearly impossible to browse
- These sandals should be condemned as unlivable – a truly gross buy at $3.90
- The rejects from downstairs are relegated to the prison-like, scary upstairs
- No, this is not one of my site-specific pieces, it is the floor upstairs – kind of cool visually
I believe that the goods they sell here are rejects from all the other thrift stores in Chicago – and in fact, I have seen shoes here that still bear Goodwill tags. I have been to this store many times and have bought something once or twice, but that was at least two years ago. The unfortunate thing is that they have some cool items in the display cases, but trying to get somebody to help you is like winning the lottery – it ain’t going to happen anytime soon. My main purpose for this visit was not to find elusive treasure in a garbage dump, but to document this “wondrous” store. Since that has been accomplished, I see no need to return to this grunge palace.