Not only is vintage shopping great for the planet, but you can also go vintage shopping for a cause. I’m sharing the best places to go shopping for vintage and secondhand goods to make a difference and give back in your community.
Vintage Shopping for a Cause
If you’ve been following along on the blog, you know that I love shopping for vintage, antiques, thrifted, secondhand, and salvage. It’s all about The Thrill of the Find! I keep my eyes peeled no matter where we go for unexpected treasures. And I don’t care where we buy them, or what label is applied to the store or locations where we find our treasures.
Some of my favourite stores are for-profit stores of hardworking people trying to earn a living with their local business, booth at an antique market, or online vintage shop. I love these shops, and I try to support them as much as I can, in part so that they stay in business.
Regardless of where you buy your vintage items, buying used and vintage items is good for the planet. Giving these items another home ensures they don’t end up in a landfill. And that’s just one of the many reasons I love buying vintage, as I shared in a recent blog post.
However, there are many places to shop for vintage and secondhand goods that are non-profit and give back to the community as well. And I think supporting those businesses is a great way to do a little bit of extra good with your decorating dollars.
Here’s how shopping for vintage at a non-profit store can be a quadruple win: First, you benefit by gaining a unique item (at probably a good deal). Secondly, you are making a sustainable choice. Thirdly, by choosing to shop in this way, you can also have a positive impact in the lives of people in your community. And finally, making these conscious choices can get you thinking of other ways to make a difference.
Best Places to Go Vintage Shopping for a Cause
Obviously, it goes without saying that each country, province/state, and city have different stores and organizations. We live in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, and I’m spotlighting different places for vintage shopping for a cause where we live. But I hope that these ideas and examples get you thinking and remind you of similar places you know about locally. I encourage to research your area and all the options that are available to you.
And don’t forget, you can also go vintage hunting on vacations. I like to research our destinations ahead of time and schedule time to go hunting for treasures. Bringing back vintage finds can be meaningful souvenirs of your travels, and you can support various communities that way as well.
Vintage Shopping for a Cause in Ottawa
Disclaimer: I have no relationship with any of these businesses or organizations, nor am I an expert in non-profits. Do your own local research and make choices that are right for you.
Thrift Stores and Secondhand Shops
Ottawa has several chains of thrift stores and secondhand shops that operate in different ways. Before researching them, I’ll admit I wasn’t aware of the differences in how each one uses their profits. Some of them have impact reports on their websites. These reports document how many items are diverted from landfills and the funds raised for communities and charitable programs.
I believe it’s a common misconception that Value Village is a non-profit organization. I actually read on one site that they are the largest for-profit thrift store chain in the world.According to Value Village’s website, “We are a for-profit company that champions reuse. Shopping in our stores doesn’t support any nonprofit, but donating your reusable goods does. We pay nonprofits for your stuff, helping them fund programs in our communities.” They also emphasize their efforts to divert household and clothing waste from landfills, which is still a worthy cause.
The Salvation Army Thrift Store
Salvation Army Thrift Stores are operated as part of the National Recycling Operations of the Salvation Army, which is a Christian charity. According to their website, “After expenses, the proceeds we generate support The Salvation Army’s many social programs, such as children’s camps, food banks and shelters. And through the Thrift Store, we provide (free of charge) items to individuals or families referred to us from various social services agencies and other charities.”
Mission Thrift Stores
Mission Thrift Stores are part of a Canada-wide chain, and a “volunteer-driven, non-denominational Christian organization. The net revenue is devoted to the joint ministry of BFM Foundation (Canada) and Bible League Canada to support leadership and literacy programs in over 43 countries”. Therefore, their profits don’t directly benefit the local community.
Some thrift stores, including the Mission Thrift Stores, set aside the most valuable pieces for monthly auctions to raise more money for their causes.
Saint Vincent de Paul Thrift Stores
Saint Vincent de Paul Thrift Stores are run through the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, a Catholic charity. Thrift stores are just one facet of the good works that the society does for the community. But regarding the thrift stores, they say “While many of these items are sold to the general public, many are also given to the poor at no cost to them. Thrift stores profits go to benefit those in our communities who are in need.”
Habitat for Humanity ReStores
Habitat for Humanity ReStores are non-profit stores that accept donations of home improvement items and sell them. On their website they say, “The purpose of Habitat ReStores is to contribute to the work of Habitat for Humanity. When you support your local ReStore by shopping, donating or volunteering, you are not only supporting your local community, you’re also helping the mission to provide decent shelter to everyone around the world.”
ReStores carry used items such as building materials, appliances and furniture, but you’ll also find many brand new items as well. We love shopping at the Re-store for many things, especially lighting. I’ve shared it before, but we bought our favourite vintage chandelier there.
We’ve also purchased a small table, some hardware, and other small odds and ends. I was overjoyed to find the exact same house numbers I wanted for $4 a number instead of $12 at the hardware store. And one location even has a large section of books for $1 each. Of course we bought many because we just love buying books so much.
Purchasing items at the Re-store is something to feel great about because not only does it help the community, but it helps to reduce the large amount of waste from renovations. They often have great sales and reward cards, in addition to their already great no-tax prices. Check out their online shop as well.
Highjinx is an amazing place in downtown Ottawa and they describe themselves as “human centred social enterprise”. They have a furniture bank of household items and donate food to neighbors in need, as well as helping them in many other ways. In addition, the old house that Highjinx inhabits is also a vintage shop. Sales of the donated items help to pay the rent.
We’ve only recently discovered Highjinx, but I love what they are trying to do. We’ve found a few great gems at their shop that I’ll share another time. But their prices are always so reasonable that you’ll find yourself offering to pay more because you can. And while you’re there, maybe you’ll also make a donation of food or household items. My favourite visit coincided with a sale of baby plants that had been propagated. Plants and money going to charity? Yes please!
However, my favourite purchase from Highjinx was this old painted wood Santa in red and aqua. I love him so much, and I have plans to give him a little TLC before Christmas comes around again.
GiveShop is a really cool idea that was invented here in Ottawa and is also currently available in Toronto. They do have plans to expand to other cities in the future.
Essentially it is an app where people list used goods they have to donate. They set an asking price and select a charity of their choice from a broad list. Buyers search items and come to an agreement on a price for an item with a seller. They make an online payment via the app, and pick up their item as arranged. According to their website, “When an item sells, GiveShop collects platform fees which are deducted from the profit of the sale. We are a for-profit company that aims to positively maximize the social impact of our market by highlighting the power capacity of business and entrepreneurship.” Finally, the donor receives a tax receipt for the sale amount.
I think this is such a great concept. Not only does it help the environment by reusing secondhand goods, it allows people to turn unwanted items into cash donations. Even though GiveShop takes a portion for fees, there are benefits for all involved. Donors get to the select the charity that they’d like to support, share items they no longer need, and receive a tax receipt for the donation. Buyers can feel good about supporting a charity, and giving an item a new home.
We have not personally used the GiveShop app yet, but I would very much like to try donating some items through it. You can search the online marketplace to see what’s for sale without downloading the app. As well, you can browse the list of charities. Watch for GiveShop to expand to a city near you!
Library and School Fundraisers
Many schools and libraries host used book sales or sales of other items. The profits raised often go directly back to those institutions or their communities. You can likely find a great deal if you stock up on cheap books at these sales. We’ve found some great vintage books this way, often for $1-2 a book.
To read more about decorating with vintage books, check out the post, Vintage Books for Decor.
Vintage Shopping for a Cause in Your Neighborhood
No matter where you buy your vintage and secondhand goods, it’s a sustainable choice for the environment. However, why not choose to shop at least some of the time at stores that give back to your community? I encourage you to explore the options in your own neighbourhoods and make a difference with your decorating dollars.
I want to hear from you. What is your favourite store to shop vintage and give back? Do you have any ideas that I’ve missed? Are there any cool initiatives where you live? Let me know in the comments below.
All the best,