Thrift Shopping in Marin County California

Why go thrift shopping in Marin County California? For one thing, Marin County has one of the highest per capita incomes in the US. That means that the thrift stores there get their stock from a high-income populace who wear good quality clothing with designer labels and who probably replace items in their wardrobes more often than the hoi polloi can afford to. Secondly, at least in San Rafael, there seems to be a cluster of thrift shops near one another because the typical consumer is a lower income person. And yes, there are poor people in Marin County. I checked out three stores in San Rafael. The first one was the Goodwill located At 805 Lincoln Avenue.



This is a big store with large Men’s and Children’s departments as well as Women’s. The prices were a bit higher than what I’m used to on the east coast, but not outrageous by any standard. I saw Ann Taylor blouses in excellent condition for under $10, lots of low priced Banana Republic items and a nice leather skirt for $10.00. There were some interesting looking items on the shoe racks, but I didn’t investigate. (My wide bumpy and mangled toes limit where I can buy shoes.) Hospice By the Bay Hodgepodge Thrift Store has less clothes and more dishes and tschotskes. There are a lot of the latter to choose from if you want to furnish a new place on the cheap with expensive looking items. They are nicely displayed.


Hospice By The Bay didn’t have as great a variety of clothes as were as the Goodwill and they were a bit more expensive, but they do important work and  certainly deserve to be supported.   Most of the items were dressy or casual Friday office wear. Very little men’s and children’s clothes.

Image for Success Retail proceeds enable IFS to provide complimentary wardrobes to these in need.  Women’s clothing, good condition, older styles and trendier takes, designer labels and a nicely curated shoe department. You can get a formal gown or a casual look. Smaller then Goodwill and more expensive but it seems like the the clothes are screened and uniformly in good condition. Women’s dresses only    

Mill Valley has a well-earned reputation as a bastion of  affluence. The high school looks more like a well-kept hotel to a golf resort than a dungeon of higher learning. I have heard that the people are supposed to be snobby but everyone I had contact with during my thrifting exploration was very friendly.


I walked into consignment shop Diamonds  in the Rough  thinking it was a thrift shop.   It’s not, There were a lot of designer labels-Christian Dior clothes, Jimmy Choo shoes and Kate Spade bags as well as less expensive brands like Ann Taylor and Jones New York. Oddly enough, some of the clothes seemed to be in less than mint condition for a consignment store. The prices were high but for some shoppers used to buying at high-end boutiques, a store like Diamonds in the Rough could produce a real bargain.


The Family Thrift Store is right next to Diamond in the Rough and it was my hands-down favorite. It carries men’s and women’s clothes, children’s items,  housewares, and pretty much everything else.   There’s one pricing scheme except for a few specially marked items.


For example, all women’s tops are $5.00 except for those marked differently



like the Eileen Fisher silk shell that I snagged for $8.50!


Silk hand-dyed scarf $3.50!

I hit a few more stores between Mill Valley and Ft. Bragg that I’ll write about in another post.


Creative Thrift Shopping

One of my favorite thrift store in Philadelphia is Thrift for Aids.  With its creative and witty staff, shopping there is always entertaining even if I don’t find anything.  Case in point: their new trash receptacle outside the store.
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For me one of the best forms of therapy is retail therapy in a thrift shop. There is no thrill like finding an item like a pair of Talbot’s Silk pants for $4.00 or a an Ann Taylor sweater for $7.00. Unless you are shopping for new fashion trends, are a Wall Street Trader or work for Big Law, a good thrift shop can be your go-to store most of the clothes you’ll need, not to mention a source of fabric for quilts, a source of yarn for sweaters, and all kinds of household goodies.  But what to do  when you see a pair of Eileen Fisher pull-on pants in a soft and dreamy  Italian knit that you must have but they are much too large?  If you are like me, you buy them and keep them for a year before you get the courage to take scissors to them.  You search your sewing books and on line tutorials and then you come across a video on YouTube which is as simple as it can be watch it and get the courage to alter those pants so they fit!   I was so surprised at how well they turned out that I had to share the results and the video with you.


I don’t have any “before” pictures, but these are the pants after I took in the legs and crotch, put in a new waist and  shortened them about 6 inches


New hem


New waist


Here are another pair of Eileen Fisher pants made of linen which will be perfect for summer.  These don’t need a new waist so much as slimmer legs and a crotch that’s not in the middle of my thighs.   And now here’s the video to which I owe my new pants. 

Here are some links to instructions  for  altering waistlines and hemming pants.  Now get sewing!