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Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012

Unique Gifts for the Holidays

Finding Treasures in Secondhand Shops

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E-retailers and big box stores are loaded for the holidays. Most of us will fight through crowds at the mall or click our way through practical, but impersonal, online sellers. The personal touch seems to diminish as credit card stress rises. So why not select unique gifts that appeal to your friends and family without breaking your budget? One way is to explore some of the many vintage, resale, and consignment shops in Milwaukee, where you’ll find plenty of affordable treasures for everyone on your list.

■ Chattel Changers (2520 E. Capitol Drive) is a quality consignment store with lots to choose from. This place has gifts for just about every taste and style, from unique jewelry and one-of-a-kind artwork to vintage glassware and collectables. You’ll want to visit often because the stock changes constantly. On the upside, the pricing structure is excellent for multiple trips, as the original price of each item is reduced by 15% every 30 days. 

■ There are many places in the city to buy used children’s clothing, but Children’s Orchard (11110 W. National Ave.) is among the best. This locally franchised shop has a steady stream of gently worn clothes coming in all the time. They have very high standards on buying, so customers are sure to find only the best quality on the racks. (Sellers: “gently used” is a mantra here. Leave anything with a hint of wear or stains at home.) Gymboree, Gap, and other brand names seem always to be in stock, along with shoes, like-new toys, puzzles and baby equipment.

■ Covet Closette Pop Up Shop (1554 W. Mequon Road) is a women’s designer resale boutique. For a short window of time between now and Dec. 15, high-end, NYC designer clothing will be available at resale prices. Proceeds from the sales will go directly to charity. This is an amazing opportunity to snap up some Prada, Jimmy Choo or Bottega Veneta for all your fashion plate friends and family.

■ Dragonfly (1117 E. Brady St.) is a wonderfully eclectic clothing and gift shop. Complementing the solid offering of quality vintage clothing are jewelry, barware, and household items. This is a great place to find cool, inexpensive stocking stuffers or secret Santa gifts. From elegant classics to kitschy trinkets, there is bound to be something for everyone on your list at Dragonfly. 

■ The thoughtful folks at Goodwill have made it easy to find only the best at Retique (190 N. Broadway). Step inside and you’ll recognize this is not an average Goodwill store. Retique mostly stocks men and women’s clothing, but you will find a limited quantity of books, household goods and accessories. Prices may be slightly higher than the traditional Goodwill, but because of the boutique atmosphere and high-quality merchandise, customers don’t seem to mind. Plus, anyone with a Goodwill card or coupons can still use them here for the same discounts.

■ ReThreads is well organized with a great mix of vintage and resale designer clothing and accessories for men and women. With a location near UWM (2943 N. Humboldt Ave.) and another in Bayview (2671 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.) the possibilities for finding something gift-worthy is doubled. These locally owned stores have a modern feel and are definitely meant to appeal to a youthful crowd. ReThreads buys on a daily basis with high standards, so shoppers don’t have to dig too deep for major finds.

 

More Bargain Stops

Don’t forget or dismiss some of the national chains that cater to the thrifty shopper. Play It Again Sports (10111 W. Capitol Drive and 7499 W. Layton Ave.) is a great place for used sporting equipment. Buying affordable, like-new roller skates or skis for kids can be especially rewarding, as they usually grow out of them quickly. 

Half Price Books (17145 W. Bluemound Road, 8514 W. Brown Deer Road and 5032 S. 74th St.) has new and used books, music, DVDs, video and board games, and much more. Every location is a little different, but the selection is typically excellent, fairly priced, and may help you complete your holiday purchases under budget.