I moved into a larger apartment this June, two rooms all to myself, like a grown boy. After four great years with my ex-roomie I couldn’t help but feel a little empty on moving day, my new pad was no different. The truth is, over half of the shared furniture in our old home belonged to her. Each armchair, lamp and night stand she owned was unique and from a different era though collectively the apartment came together as a charming and cozy space from yesteryear.
My ex-roommate lit the thrifting fire within me and was a not too shabby mentor at that. She was the type to walk or métro a few kilometres home with a folding rocking chair under one arm and a vintage stained glass swag lamp hanging over her shoulder. I called her the Sherpa.
In a scramble to find a dining table this summer before hosting my first soirée I hit up many of the inner city’s vintage haunts and secondhand addresses. I went in with the zen-like optimism and patience of the Sherpa. My six seater wooden kitchen table cost me 12.99$. She taught me well.
Here is a list of a few of my favourite Montréal thrift stores, secondhand boutiques and preloved outlets for clothing, kitchenware, furniture and other stuff you do or don’t need.
mervmatsui 1025 av Van Horne
(My favourite new spot)
I stumbled across mervmatsui on a dog walk towards the Outremont summit. This stretch of Van Horne has seen interesting restaurants open in the last years but seriously lacks great clothing options. This small and quaint boutique offers a majority of men’s secondhand options (and about time) from workwear, military, sport and street and the type of spot you’d find a good grandpa sweater or Barbour jacket. My light teal pop’s cardigan set me back 20$ and keeps me warm by the imaginary fireplace at home.
ex voto 6534 St Laurent Blvd
(The Sherpa’s favourite)
On Saint-Laurent boulevard just south of the Little Italy arches is Ex Voto. This shop has a fair selection of preloved attire for women with a few unisex options. Just over half the shop is dedicated to new locally designed shirts, bags, pins and other great gift trinkets. On my last visit there was a whole line of tees with feminist rants on them, love it. My Solange print tee was 30$, untouchable hair included.
Le Magasin du Chaînon 4375 St Laurent Blvd
(The feel good shop)
The Chaînon foundation and shelter assisting women in need since the 30’s is supported in large part by their secondhand store location in the heart of the Plateau, Le Magasin du Chaînon. This spot is has a great selection of books, kitchenware, furniture, clothing and even new toiletries at a modest price. They receive weekly donations through the back door and are a great first hunting spot to finding that new coffee table. My 1000 page history book on Brother André and the Oratory was a bargain at 25$. Yes, I nerd out sometimes.
Eva B 2015 St Laurent Blvd
Eva B is like a jungle with every species of used garment finds from neon snowsuits for Igloofest to Hawaii shirts for whoever is keeping those alive. Spread over three floors, this is THE Montréal mecca of thrifting. They offer a light and healthy lunch counter, café with outdoor seating and costume rentals. This is a regular stop on one of the Montreal walking tours I offer as a must see on the lower stretch of Saint-Laurent boulevard. Gone are the days of the “swimming pool”, a vat with garments people literally jumped into for digging, each find a dollar. My last year’s Christmas sweater was 15$, which I intend on wearing again this year.
Little Shop 1002 av Ogilvy
(The secret spot)
Just down the road from my pad in Parc-Extension is a two storey brick row home like many others in Montreal. Behind the blurry screen door window is a vintage collection like no other in the city. Bedrooms converted into showrooms of lace decades old, sunglasses, glassware, belts, kimonos, fur hats and anything you could think of. A regular stop for theatre costumiers, some Hollywood production staff and anyone looking for that special piece for an evening event. My Morpheus style sunglasses found in the backroom were 10$, which I pulled out from the ATM at the taverna across the street, cash only.
LNF Shop 5319 av du Parc
(The dangerous curated spot)
After getting a trim at the 15$ barber next door when I lived in the hood I mistakingly stumbled into LNF. This is that beautiful thrift store that makes you want to buy everything as soon as you walk in. They have a well curated selection of preloved classics and unique finds, each spruced up to seem brand spanking new. Their lovely stockpile of vintage eyewear, shoes, watches and lifestyle accessories set them apart from the rest. My mustard coloured sweater straight out of a Holt Renfrew catalogue was a whopping 70$ a few years ago, worth every penny.