Best Places to Shop on a Budget in the St. Cloud Area — Abby’s Top 5
by Abby Faulkner, frugal shopper
So, I have a problem. I’m a single, professional twentysomething with a budget as tight as a drum. I, unfortunately, also like nice things. High on this list would be clothes. I’m in denial, too; I’m always justifying why I need to spend money I don’t have on a new dress. I work hard, and I want to treat myself now and then.
But here’s my other problem – which is a strange one for someone who likes to shop. I hate the mall. HATE it. It’s crowded, everything’s too expensive, and I end up buying the same crap everyone else has. Plus, there aren’t any windows. And I end up eating something gross in the food court. Basically, I almost always leave cranky.
So, I buy most everything at thrift and consignment stores.
Now, some people will dismiss this right off the bat. Some people just don’t like the idea of wearing something used. But I’m DEFINITELY not talking about crummy garage sail castoffs here. There’s good stuff – and tons of hard-to-find DESIGNER stuff - to be found at secondhand stores. Yes, you do have to dig a little bit. The good stuff isn’t always right out in plain sight. You do need to have a fairly solid idea of your own style and what you’re looking for. But trust me - it will pay off. I definitely get more compliments on my used stuff than anything else I own – dresses, boots, hats, you name it. That’s because the thrift/consignment stores I’ve discovered around the St. Cloud area are owned and staffed by people who have an eye for unique and well-made clothing, shoes and accessories.
So, I will reluctantly share some of my thrifty shopping tips with you. I hope you check these places out…just know, if we’re eyeing the same thing…I WILL take you down.
Hands down my favorite in this area. I’ve found some of the most gorgeous, designer dresses, killer jewelry and even small-label, foreign boutique clothes in this little Sauk Rapids gem of a store. The ladies of Margo’s are always buying new things, so I never really know what I’m going to find when I return. For example, one of my very favorite and hardly known boutiques is called Boden (it’s a British label) that I’ve historically had to order from overseas. So, imagine my elation when I found a whole SECTION of Margo’s teeming with Boden clothes. That doesn’t even happen in the Twin Cities. (I’m a veteran Minneapolis thrifter, trust me) And here’s an added bonus – the women of Margo’s know their stuff and will help you find what you’re looking for and the right accessories to compliment it. However, be warned – some things CAN be a little more expensive. I’m not talking break-the-bank expensive, but because it is a designer CONSIGNMENT store, there will be some pricier things on the racks. On my first trip, I walked in determined to spend just about $30…and walked out much lighter than THAT. We’re not gonna talk about it, ok? All in all, Margo Mundi’s is a rare find in any town! Check out their always-changing website for hours, merchandise updates and sales!
Ok, now before you dismiss me as a weirdo and move on to watching funny cat videos on YouTube, I insist - Saver’s is waaay more surprising than you may know. I’ve found everything from clothes to kitchenware to music at a serious fraction of regular retail prices. However, I tend to have the best luck when it comes to Savers’ shoe selection. After years of prowling the shelves of Minneapolis thrift stores, looking for a much-wanted pair of red cowboy boots, (don’t judge me) I found a pair for $12 at Savers in St. Cloud! Needless to say, I keep returning. Be sure to check out the back wall of lamps while you’re at it. Some of them are wickedly cool and cheap as can be. Just trust me.
Here’s another cute and affordable little boutique right in our backyard. Threads is located near SCSU and as such does cater to that age bracket. Still, even us slightly older gals can find some solid stuff. I typically browse there when I’m looking for dresses or jeans (I seem to have good luck with those things at Threads.) They stock both brand new and used designer jeans , so no matter what the budget, you’ll find something to taste. Also, if you’re looking for something to wear during a night out, you can’t really go wrong with the dresses, tops and skirts, many priced nicely under $10. They do a nice job stocking certain brands, and the hours are good. Finally, if you’re looking to sell your stuff, they’ve got a handy guide for which brands they prefer to buy and sell the most.
Ok, yeah, it’s not thrift, and y’all probably go there a ton already, but Target needs to be on this list regardless. It’s simply top dog when it comes to cheap basics to pair with your more unique thrift store items. I’m of the opinion that buying your actual CLOTHES at Target is a gamble, because you’re probably gonna just see 12 people in the next week wearing exactly what you have. If you’re anything like me, this is irritating. So, I tend to use Target simply as a place to pick up things like leggings and tights, basic solid tanks and other simple, generic items. Skip the displays and go straight to the sale rack. I never pay more than $5 for the essentials on clearance. Then I go grab my cat litter. Pretty convenient! Oh, and FYI – I recommend the east side Target, hands down; better selection than crossroads (because no one really goes there) and the always wonderful self-checkout lane!
Barker’s More 4 Less makes this list because, while I don’t ALWAYS walk away with something, when I DO, it’s just what I was looking for and incredibly inexpensive. This is because Barker’s is a reliable place to find pairs of $4 blue jeans and tops for under $3. We’re not always talking designer-labels here, but really, you can’t beat a simple, casual t-shirt/blue jean ensemble for under $10. Barker’s also has a nice selection of furniture, electronics and other odds and ends, so check it out!