The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Scene in South Bend: Thrift Stores

| Monday, November 19, 2018

Joseph Han

I’ve always viewed thrift stores as interactive museums with galleries that encompass many eras and an ever-changing collection of mystery. Stepping into the store, or room or basement (depending on the venue), you’re surrounded by racks and shelves and bookcases filled with treasures waiting to be discovered. These items, discarded by others, will eagerly reveal their histories to you if you stop to listen.

Yes, it’s a hit or miss. If you’re looking for the sweater your friend wore to class last Friday, you’re better off elsewhere. But, if you want to save the environment, are up for adventure, are willing to expand your style and are open to mystery (or are a freshman from California who needs a multitude of winter clothes quickly), then join me shopping at our local South Bend thrift stores.


Salvation Army

Location: 2009 South Bend Avenue, South Bend

Distance from campus: A seven-minute bike ride from the Stadium (or a 17-minute jog alongside your friends’ bikes, because all the LimeBikes on South Quad are “under maintenance”).

Pros: Nice wooden chairs in the dressing rooms, an extensive dress collection, vintage Newman’s wool overcoat made in South Bend, lots of ACC women’s polos, festive red dressing room doors, an abundance of pajama pants, nice Christmas décor section, Notre Dame clothing section and it’s close to campus.

Cons: No mirrors outside the dressing rooms, sweater collection is too small, not as clean as the Goodwills, a small store with only two dressing rooms.

Music: “With or Without You” by U2; “Stand By You” by Rachel Platten

Like most Salvation Armies, clothes were categorized by color, not by size (convenient if looking for clothing for a costume, but not when shopping for normal clothing).

This Salvation Army uniquely features a My Pillow man cardboard cutout to advertise its multitude of My Pillows (new!). Surprisingly realistically sized and posed, my friends and I were startled many times by the My Pillow man, and later discovered that a customer once offered $50 to purchase him, but was denied.



Location: 2701 Cleveland Road, South Bend

Distance from campus: A 14-minute drive northwest from the Stadium.

Pros: Large record collection with many Christmas albums, two mirrors outside the dressing rooms, many belts, Christmas clothing section, a large men’s sweater section, numerous crocheted blankets, suede bowling shoes and a Notre Dame clothing section.

Cons: Shoes were mostly 1980s women’s shoes, a weak dress selection, belts were hung by the buckles making removing the ones in the back an adventure, all of the good women’s shoes are size seven (a pro for some).

Music: “Price Tag” by Jessie J, “Honestly” by Hot Chelle Rae, “Down” by Jay Sean

We had a wonderful conversation with our cashier about Thanksgiving plans and an elderly woman complimented the Amelia Earhart aviator jacket I tried on. Also, I will always love this Goodwill for having a “Beach Boys Concert” record in great condition.


Goodwill SuperStore

Location: 1805 West Western Street, South Bend

Distance from campus: A 14-minute drive southwest from the Stadium.

Pros: Large belt section, dressing room had interior lighting, large mug collection, many books, comfortable 1960s style green recliners, many eyeglass cases, a stand full of old fashioned candy and a Notre Dame clothing section.

Cons: No mirror outside the dressing rooms, small record collection, we missed the entire store 50 percent off sale by one day and too many items were missing tags (although they were priced for us at checkout).

Songs: “The Man” by Aloe Blacc, “Not a Bad Thing” by Justin Timberlake

For being a SuperStore, this Goodwill isn’t too overwhelming, but, in addition to a larger clothing section, it features a lot of furniture that I wish would fit into my dorm room (I want those 1960s green recliners).


Overall, the South Bend thrift stores are great for filling your wardrobe on a student budget, finding inexpensive Notre Dame gear to gift to your family for Christmas and experiencing free entertainment. So, while you could spend your Saturday afternoon studying in Hesburgh, you’re much better off discovering the mysteries found within the South Bend thrift stores.

Tags: , ,

About Sarah Kikel

Contact Sarah