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BYH Little Rock Thrift Guide

With an emphasis on furniture and home goods in or near the capital city

By Rebekah Hall Scott



The time has come for a very localized run-down of my favorite sources for thrifted furniture. Thrifted clothes are a category unto themselves, a category which also endlessly delights and thrills me. I worked at Goodwill for year in college, and the breadth of my wardrobe at that time was honestly silly. The employee discount and 2014-Goodwill prices (they've inflated just like the rest of everything) made it so that my tiny closet was fit to bursting with suede coats and big fleece pullovers and denim jackets (I LOVE OUTERWEAR), strange blazers, lots of men's leather boots and button downs, party dresses and worn t-shirts I slashed into crop tops. I've since pared down, but my closet continues to be a solid 85% thrifted, 15% new.


However, I can count on one hand the number of times I've bought brand new furniture: our bed mattress, our futon mattress, and our now nearly 7-year-old Ikea nightstands that Art and I got when we first moved in together. Buying brand new furniture can be very cost-prohibitive, especially when the quality of items available in my price range means I'm gonna be looking for a new bookshelf or dresser in a few short years (or months!) when the piece inevitably falls apart. Furniture used to be made much finer and sturdier, so buying the right vintage or antique piece can mean the item is going to last you much longer than buying new.


I'm generally not interested in the furniture offerings of the Wayfairs and Joybirds or Targets and Amazons of the world, for many reasons besides the quality. I don't subscribe to trends in interior design, so the idea of being able to quickly purchase a piece that's become virally popular does not appeal to me; I don't like the sort of flat, sanitized look that's become so pervasive among this kind of new furniture, ready to be plugged and played in anyone's home. And I think that really cuts to the main reason I don't like to buy new: even if I had the money to furnish my home with the best CB2 or West Elm had to offer, I'd be spending that money on antiques and bespoke pieces made just for me. (If I won the lottery, these would be the signs.)


I want the furniture, art and home goods in my house to have character, history, stories, the evidence of a maker's hand. I want the beautiful patina earned from years of love and use, or the quirkiness of an item that was clearly made as part of an art project or someone's first attempt at basket weaving. And I am always seeking variety because I love to layer — I want pieces from different eras of design, different shades of wood, diversity of material and style. I like things that take themselves seriously and things that don't. Thrift stores, antique malls and flea markets are where I feel most invigorated. I love the hunt. I'm never more excited than when I arrive at those gates, ready to take my sweet time looking through every booth and down every aisle to find the items that catch my eye.


For my central Arkansas friends, what follows is my guide to the best thrifting spots in the area, with a particular focus on furniture and home wares rather than clothes. If there are any missing from my list that you love, please tell me! For all of these places, it's usually luck of the draw for what you find, aka, don't necessarily go thinking you're going to find a red armchair or a circular mirror — be open to the possibilities.


BUTTER YELLOW HOME LITTLE ROCK THRIFT GUIDE


Habitat for Humanity Restore

$-$$

6700 S. University Ave, Little Rock

Tuesday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

What to expect: A hit or miss experience that's worth checking out for potential hits. The store seems to get new donations frequently, and often higher quality "new" items on the sales floor up front are priced steeply ($250 for a nice couch or coffee table, $600 for a giant heavy armoire), but when you venture back to the warehouse section, you can find some gems for great prices. They seem to regularly have a variety of single chairs, lots of couches, and a few dressers/side tables, and they are always running discounts. There's a decent little section of home wares, and they always have lamps, which is important to me. And for folks doing construction or DIY home improvements, there's an entire additional warehouse filled with like-new items — sinks, fridges, toilets, chandeliers, blinds, packs of floor tile — that could make a great resource.

Favorite find(s): I recently picked up these two chairs for $10 each, and I love them. A single chair can be a powerful and practical addition to any room. My cat Moody loves them as much as I do. We also recently bought a cute country grandma couch from here for $60, and I enjoy her plaid pattern more every day.



Little Rock Compassion Center Thrift Store

$

3618 W. Roosevelt Rd, Little Rock

Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

What to expect: Also a hit or miss experience that's worth stopping by once a month or so to check out. The prices here are consistently lower than at Habitat Restore, and they regularly have pretty decent quality couches or fun loveseats. There's also a lamp or two here that have been there for probably over a year that I'm still considering because I have a lamp problem. Sometimes they'll randomly get an entire bedroom suite donated, which can be picked apart for a cool four-poster bed or nice dresser; I've also clocked nice dining hutches there. The thrift store is connected to the LR Compassion Center, one of the only shelters for unhoused people in the city, which I think is good to know before going, as proceeds from the store benefit the Christian mission of the organization. I've only had one bad experience at the store, and that was because a few of the staff and customers sang the entire Gilligan's Island theme song out loud together, and earnest public singing often makes me cringe. So sue me.

Favorite find(s): This enigmatic $3 portrait of a dog playing the piano is one of my greatest finds of all time, and she came from the Compassion Center. I do not know her origins but man, what a beautiful mystery she is. Also this great reading chair that was on the sales floor for weeks, which I contemplated for about as long before snagging for $70 — not a price I'd pay lightly, but I knew we would get a lot of use out of it.



New Lease Discount Furnishings

$-$$

2323 E. Broadway St, North Little Rock

Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., closed Sundays

What to expect: Shout out to my good friend Kim for telling me about New Lease, which has quickly become a favorite haunt of mine. The owner told Kim that she opened this store because she wanted people to have access to estate-sale quality furniture without paying those kinds of prices, so she often buys the pieces that don't get purchased at these sales and offers them more affordably. This store packs a ton of inventory into a small footprint, so be prepared to take your time and hunt. Chairs and side tables are stacked high among beautiful couches and armchairs, and there are several large dining hutches and storage units among desks and dressers. New Lease really has it all: lots of large framed art, a solid selection of china and ceramics, and a couple hidden sections of clothing, where I've taken time to browse and have found some real bangers. When you walk in, you're encouraged to grab a cardboard box and fill it with your finds, and you'll pay by the box. I did this around the holidays and found several Christmas presents, plus a couple selfish finds, for $20. Again, be prepared for sensory overload when you first arrive, but if you take your time and poke around, you'll likely find something wonderful.

Favorite find(s): I haven't quite found the right pieces of furniture for our home from New Lease yet, but here are a few pictures from my browse in December of two very lovely couches (which are a bit covered by other things, but zoom in!) and one delightfully painted round table that I haven't stopped thinking about since.



St. Edward's Thrift Store (at St. Edward Catholic Church)

$

801 Sherman St, Little Rock

Sunday and Monday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

What to expect: A few years ago, when my friend Jodi told me about a thrift spot downtown that's only open on Sundays and Mondays, I could not believe that I didn't know about the thrift store at St. Edward's. Jodi had scored huge there, finding a very cool vintage armoire/pie safe that she ended up using as kitchen storage. I've been a big fan ever since. The thrift store is located in the classroom wing of the church and has several rooms of treasures, including one dedicated to clothes, two dedicated to home wares, and a room full of books. ( There's also one entirely devoted to Christmas/holiday decorating if that's....... your thing.) They have a really great little selection of fun home wares/tabletop goods, including lots of pretty cut glass pieces, serving pieces and ceramics. There's plenty of random furniture scattered throughout, and I've noticed some pretty mirrors there a few times. As with all of these spots, you never know what you'll find on a given day, but over time I have scored not one but three beautiful special lamps from there, each for $10 or less. Bonus points for the ability to hop across the street from your shopping and explore the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts and/or the MacArthur Park grounds.

Favorite find(s): The aforementioned lamps, two of which are in my office at work and please me every day.



Galaxy Furniture

$$-$$$

304 Main Street, North Little Rock

Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

What to expect: Housed in the former J.C. Penny's building in Argenta, Galaxy is one of my favorite places to kill an hour of time. The space is huge: a massive first floor with a densely packed, lofted second floor. Galaxy leans over the line towards an antiques store, rather than solely thrift, and many of their prices reflect this. But what I love about Galaxy is the variety and randomness of the items you'll find there: rows and rows of strange executive suite desks and office chairs mixed with beautiful mid-century modern pieces, Bohemian seashell chandeliers, framed old political cartoons, beaded dresses, vintage handbags and hat boxes. On the second floor, you can pick your way through what I believe is a wonderful selection of wood furniture among vintage toys, lamps and artwork. There are so many lovely, single wood chairs that it makes my head spin, and a couple gorgeous old-school vanities with those big circular mirrors. Again, the prices here — especially for large pieces like dressers or sofas — are significantly higher than you're going to find at St. Edward's or the Compassion Center, but many prices are very reasonable, and it seems like the store owner would potentially be open to haggling. And I'm of the mindset that saving up for an antique that really has you spellbound is going to pay out dividends in the long run: both in your joy and in its resale value, if you're into that sort of thing.

Favorite find(s): Upstairs is a hutch that I've been pining for since I saw it a few weeks ago. It has perfect lines, perfect knobs and perfect corners. I also recently purchased this hilarious tray from here that seems like a promotional advertising product from back in the day? Idk, it's a colorful, comically large picnic spread that includes a pack of cigarettes, so I was sold.



HONORABLE MENTION


  • Estate Sales!! Don't sleep on these, y'all. My favorite resource for finding them in your area is estatesales.net or the app of the same name. You enter your zip code or city and it tells you upcoming or ongoing estate sales in the mile radius you select. You can use the photos from these listings to scout furniture that will be at upcoming sales. I've found some of my favorite pieces at estate sales, and I'm also a nosy person, so I like seeing the inside of people's homes. Many estate sale companies will do discounts over the course of a sale weekend, so by Sunday, things are 50% off. I feel ALIVE when I'm (carefully! respectfully!) looking through someone else's things, thinking about the significance of the object to the former owner, and taking seriously my duty to give my selections a cherished new life.

  • Area Goodwills: Better for clothes, but always worth a shot for stumbling upon a lucky furniture find or cool piece from the wares section. In short, my favorite Goodwill in Little Rock is probably the one on Markham next to Academy Sports and the Outback Steakhouse. I also like the one off JFK in North Little Rock. The one on Cantrell/Highway 10 is okay too.

  • Fav antique malls/flea markets: These deserve a post of their own, but in short, I love Antiques and Uniques in Bryant, Twin City Antique Mall and Crystal Hill Antique Mall (which are across the street from each other) in North Little Rock, Country Club Flea Market in Sherwood, Midtown Vintage Market and South Main Creative in Little Rock. Send me the names of your favs!


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