Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thrifting in a Small Town - Port Hardy, BC

So we are moved... Sort of! We are currently in Port Hardy, British Columbia, a small town of 4,000 on the northeastern tip of Vancouver Island. We are staying here temporarily till our rental house is available at our longer term destination.

Before leaving Vancouver, I did some googling on what it would be like to thrift in a small town. Most blog posts I read were really enthusiastic, saying that small town Savers, Goodwills, or Value Villages were treasure troves. I'm here finding out for myself by thrifting as much as I can. =)

Surprisingly, considering the small population, there are two thrift stores in town. Both are located in the small downtown core. I was kind of excited to find that they were both volunteer-run, independent types, as the pricing is usually better than the big box guys.

My first stop was to the Port Hardy Hospital Auxillary thrift store. There were racks and racks of clothes, some books, and a few housewares. Some items I left behind included a crystal decanter with a chipped stopper for a dollar, and a Pyrex Woodland pattern mug for a quarter.

Next up was the Harvest Food Bank secondhand store. I noticed that both actually used the term secondhand store as well as thrift store - I don't see this term used much in Vancouver. What are they called in your town? There was a lot more to see here, but it was very crowded and hard to navigate with SixBalloons Baby in tow.

I spotted more Pyrex here, in a little Snowflake Garland salt shaker. Other tempting goodies included a Rompteropf clay baker for $5, a Hollie Hobby framed print and a $7 vintage school desk, the kind with the chair attached. Interesting note about both stores - lots of vintage suitcases! Port Hardy is a travel hub of sorts, since there is ferry service to other parts of coastal BC, and an airport.

Port Hardy seems to have its fair share of vacant storefronts, but the thrift stores are thriving. I couldn't believe how much turnover I saw within a week, and the number of customers and quantity of donations going through the store.

Yep, that says Stink Creek Park. And yup, it stinks.

Overhearing some conversations, I noted that an old CRT TV that had just been put on the floor sold fairly quickly, and that there is a long waiting list for beds.  These are items that some Vancouver thrifts don't even accept because they just don't move out the door quickly enough. I guess if you don't have an electronics store in town, and there's just one furniture store, it's natural that customers will search for what they need at the thrift stores. It's definitely eye-opening for someone from the big city to get used to.

I was able to pick up a couple things that I'm pretty excited about, but I'll save that for another post. I still have more to share from earlier in the summer, so I hope to be a posting fiend in the next little bit.

I hope you enjoyed this piece on Port Hardy, I'd love to hear your comments on your experiences in a small town too!


  1. Comox and Courtenay have six thrift stores between the two (only 5km apart) so thrifting is good this area. I think thrifting is good in general on Vancouver Island. Welcome!

    1. Thanks! I spent a summer living in Qualicum ten years ago but wasnt regularly thrifting then... Lost opportunity!

  2. Looking forward to seeing your finds, and glad you're settling into your new home. SO envious that you have thrift shops in your new home!


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