The season of buying things is upon us! Shopping at secondhand stores is a great way to lower your environmental impact (and save money) during the holidays and throughout the year. Buying used items keeps waste out of landfill and saves the energy and materials it would have taken to manufacture something new. However, there is no formula for a secondhand store, and each one has something different to offer. This can make deciding which places to visit a challenge. I hope these reviews of UIUC area stores help you decide where to go “looking for a come-up” (you didn’t think we would make it through this without a Macklemore reference, did you?)
Twice is Nice: 607 West Elm Street, Urbana
If not for the bright blue sign hanging above the front porch, you might mistake Twice is Nice for another stately Urbana home. This store is spread throughout the rooms of a big, gray house on Elm Street, and on the shelves you’ll find an eclectic collection of everything from t-shirts to holiday decorations to teacups. It isn’t exactly a conventional shopping experience, but the friendly volunteers are always around to help you find what you’re looking for, and ducking from room to room searching through the racks makes you feel like a pro bargain hunter.
The Twice is Nice thrift store is a not-for-profit run by the First Presbyterian Church of Urbana. Half of the proceeds are donated to local organizations and programs, including several community gardens, the Eastern Illinois Food Bank, and Salt and Light, and the other half goes toward upkeep for the house.
The ReStore: 119 East University Avenue, Champaign
If you’re on the hunt for home goods, the Habitat for Humanity ReStore on University Avenue might be the place for you. The first thing you notice when you walk into this store is the buttery scent of popcorn, because if you make a donation while you’re there you get a free bag of it.The bottom floor of this store is set up like a furniture warehouse with all the couches, desks, and bookshelves your unfurnished apartment could possibly need. If you venture up the concrete stairs you will find a colorful second floor with aisles of home essentials and decor, like dishes, throw pillows, and wall art.
As you might be able to guess based on the name, all the proceeds from the ReStore benefit Habitat for Humanity, a group that works to build affordable housing for people living in poverty.
Connections: 201 Lincoln Square, Urbana
If you’re looking for a more traditional clothing store experience, Connections in Lincoln Square Mall is a good place to visit. This store is equipped with dress forms displaying outfits, bright overhead lighting, a checkout counter, and classic dressing rooms. Although the scale is smaller, the store is reminiscent of a T. J. Maxx or Marshalls where you have to hunt through long racks to find that perfect dress or sweater. The store also has a side room with non-clothing donations like books, teacups, and children’s toys.
Connections is run by Courage Connection – a group that works to help victims of domestic violence. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the Connections store go toward supporting Courage Connection.
The I.D.E.A. Store: 28 East Springfield Avenue, Champaign
The I.D.E.A. Store (Invest, Develop, Educate, Achieve) is a self-proclaimed “eco-edu-art creative reuse marketplace.” If you love to create art, or maybe if you’re just a hoarder who loves strange, eclectic stuff, this store might be the place for you. If you look in the barrels and bins that line the aisles, you’ll find a plethora of supplies for creative projects, everything from fabric and paper to puzzle pieces and googly eyes. The store is an explosion of color – colored pencils, cubbies of yarn, old postcards – and you can spend hours looking through the unique collection of materials. .
The I.D.E.A Store is an enterprise of the Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation – a nonprofit that works to support and enhance the area’s public school through grants, scholarships, and other programs.