When I lived in NYC and DC, I used to love (in a way that deserved mockery) telling people, "Oh, you like this shirt? It's Armani. I got it at this amazing thrift store in Minneapolis for $1.99." I was a sanctimonious braggart, a scavenging zealot. Out of control in my need for the deal of the century (and I do think it was that Armani shirt, although I did buy a friend a Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress at a Goodwill in Arlington, VA for $4!)
We upper-Midwesterners don't like to waste things. So we hoard them. Then we freak out in the spring time because we have too much stuff, so we don't throw it away, we give it away. That's what makes our collection of thrift and consignment stores, church rummage and neighborhood yard sales a total treasure trove. We've got the big guns like Goodwill (that even has the crazy Second Debut shop in St. Louis Park that is all designer) , Savers, Ragstock, Unique Thrift and Buffalo Exchange is going to be added to the mix. Then there are all of the smaller consignment shops and mom and pop thrift stores like Tatters, the Hope Chest for Breast Cancer, and the Project for Pride in Living shop.
So if you love a scavenger hunt, enjoying bragging to your friends about how cheap your vintage lamps were, and want to do something good for the environment by re-using someone else's stuff--the Twin Cities are the place to be.
Citysearch's list of Twin Cities thrift stores is here.
Ali Shops list of consignment/outlet shops is here.
Image: Goodwill Industries (location: Fairview and University, St. Paul.)