when you're on the coast of Maine, in a town full of old early Victorian houses with a small harbor full of sail boats, and the village church is an austere white clapboard building like this...
and that church is, of course, Protestant, and old, you know you're in good thrift shop territory, if you can find a thrift shop.
When that thrift shop is in fact run by the church and housed in the old colonial next door, you've hit what unwashed bottom feeders like me call The Jackpot. A whiff, just a whiff, of that WASP sycophancy may be needed to make my point here.
Lots of people will offer the advice that when thrift shopping the best goods are to be found in affluent neighborhoods. While that's true, it only tells part of the tale. Besides finding an affluent neighborhood with a local charity, you need to find a neighborhood where the affluent people are buying the things that you want. For me, that means finding old Protestant neighborhoods like this one. I know that generations of men who have lived hear dressed in a typical East Coast way. I know that there will be lots of Brooks Brothers, J. Press, and things from small local shops in the same vein. Good old Yankee Thrift means not only that when the time comes to donate, it will go to the local Church, but also that the likely of finding rare older items will increase. I suppose the Rule Of Thrifting here is Always Shop at the old Church. Salvation Army, Goodwill, or Savers might have some good stuff the day you walk in...or not. The Church store run by kindly old ladies from the parish will have only good stuff. At least that's been my experience with these places.
This shop was bursting with it. After only half an hour, my arms were laden with more than I could carry to the counter. I say counter, but really it was an old desk set up in the foyer of this old house. One kindly old lady offered to let me look around the back room at the items not yet tagged for sale. Another half an hour, another weighty armload of stuff. As I dug deep into a plastic bin full of ties, another old lady offered me a brownie. Delicious.
As for the haul, I was giddy. Being as seasoned a thrift shopper as I am, I rarely get as big of a "thrill of the hunt" rush as this place gave me. I was giddy as I hauled an entire contractor bag of clothes over one shoulder to my car. And that's just what I took in men's clothing. The books were great, because the same people that donate these good clothes also tend to read well. The housewares were terrific. And the fact that I was handing my money to a volunteer from a local church and that the whole thing was one giant act of recycling on everybody's part made the situation a win for everyone involved. That's something that no retail shop can give you.