Sustainable fashion has gained notable popularity in recent years, especially among teenagers. With the fashion industry serving as one of the largest contributors to world pollution, there is a clear need for more environmentally conscious buying on the part of consumers. Though some might misunderstand “sustainable fashion” as high-end stores that sell organic or vegan clothing, buying second hand clothing is an affordable alternative that fits the bill.
Many teens have turned to the practice of purchasing clothes at second hand shops and thrift stores in the vein of shopping more sustainably for a manageable price. While blocks of flashy thrift stores are often found in big cities, such as the famous San Francisco intersection of Haight and Ashbury Street, the Peninsula has its own cluster of second-hand stores that are both cheaper and more accessible. Scattered among newly opened bakeries and high-end clothing stores, Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park is home to three neighboring thrift stores, abundant with racks to explore.
American Cancer Society Discovery Shop
Eye-catching sale racks and carts of paperbacks grace the outside of the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop, located at 748 Santa Cruz Ave., beckoning visitors to peek inside. Once through the threshold, the Discovery Shop is a swirling world of different colors, textures, jewelry and knickknacks to sift through. To the tune of cheery Hawaiian music, patrons can browse anything from silky scarfs to well-loved denim, along with funky shoes and earrings. Along with comfortable clothes, the Discovery Shop offers affordable prices.
For over 30 years, the Discovery Shop has relied on donations and volunteer service from members of the community. Though most volunteers are retired, the store also welcomes high schoolers and teenagers from around the Bay Area to help out.
Kerry O’Donnell is one of two managers at the Menlo Park thrift store, and has been working at the store for over five years. Prior to her role, she volunteered at the store until the previous manager retired. Apart from herself and Holly Bohin, the other manager, the store is fully volunteer run.
“We’re always trying to find new volunteers,” O’Donnell says. “That’s the most important thing because we really need to be staffed and have people helping us.”
Relying on generous donors from the community, the Discovery Shop has created a welcoming environment of charitable customers and volunteers.
“The people, the customers, the donors [and] the volunteers are all wonderful” O’Donnell says. “It makes you feel really good to give back.”
Pouring with carefully curated second-hand chic items, The Shop, at 785 Santa Cruz Ave., is both cozy and dashing. With its intellectual decorum, The Shop is run by the Junior League and provides quality pieces to community members. Its iconic button logo lines the front window, showcasing mannequins donning high-end clothes, like those found in the store. Its dark interior emanates with the professionalism of the store and its items, ranging from mature shirts and shoes to elegant jewelry. Established in 1970, The Shop has been a fixture in Menlo Park, and is a local favorite for many environmentally-conscious shoppers.
From Prada bags to Moschino shoes, the Goodwill Boutique, located at 711 Santa Cruz Ave., is a far cry from an ordinary second-hand store. Down to the tiles, the interior design is incredibly trendy. Its teal walls are lined with carefully arranged displays, framed art and decorative mirrors. The dressing rooms are reminiscent of high-end retailers, with velvet chairs and vanity lighting. The floor plan is also appealing, allowing for easy and effortless flow from front to back without missing anything. The rainbows of cashmere sweaters, surplus of 90’s Ann Taylor, university and professional football jerseys and impressive collection of bags are all conveniently accessible.
As a reflection of the nature, quality and condition of most pieces the Goodwill Boutique offers, the prices tend to land higher. Goodwill Boutiques represent a new style of thrift store. While still a thrift location at its core, these boutiques’ selection of high-end clothing items marks a departure from traditional thrifting outlets.
“The Goodwill Boutique is a great way to find a ton of different styles of clothing in one place for an affordable price,” Palo Alto High School junior Trisha Razdan says.