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Secondhand America: The Clock Tower Thrift Shop

There are those times when you crave the type of thrift shop that is clean and airy, easily navigable and well-organized. In a word: easy. And then there are times when you hanker to encounter a shop where everything isn’t in order--where finds await in every possible nook, every cranny.

The Clock Tower in Falls Church, Virginia is the latter, a veritable grandma’s basement of thrift treasures—where those with a positive attitude and patience will surely reap the most rewards. Claustrophobics—even mild ones—need not apply. 

I know I’m always harping on the housewares at thrift shops, but that’s the real draw to The Clock Tower. There are so many sets of gorgeous dishes and elaborate drinking glasses and other weird, awesome tchotchkes that it’s hard not to leave with a full kitchen’s worth of goods. Oh you know, like a Budweiser lamp for under $10, a plush-and-pretty chair for $30, enough inexpensive brass candlesticks to outfit every house on your block. I found a gaggle of small moss green chalices—was hard not to leave with the lot—and a really awesome multipurpose leather “box” that I plan to use as a clutch. It’s kind of an awesome free-for-all here. Inexplicably, there were two full shelves of face soap and hand lotion from United Airlines (but who doesn’t love a good random bulk find?) The pricing is a little confusing here—they start a bit high, but most price tags have colored markings through them which suggest an unknown discount, making it a gamble akin to visiting the shop in the first place.

The Clock Tower is that rare place where functional disorganization and heart meet--the shop benefits the local organization Northern Virginia Family Service, and the volunteer presence is felt. Check out this small-but-might NorVa thrift shop when patience is your virtue, and get ready to reap the rewards.

Freelance writer Alison Baitz (who also writes for Bust and Refinery29) is so excited that she gets to visit thrift stores and antique malls as part of her job.

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