Shop smart by shopping small: Your guide to thrifting in Ames

Courtesy of Tess Doheny
Tess Doheny, a junior in advertising, poses next to a bed full of roses in her biker shorts, which were purchased at Portobello Road right here in Ames, Iowa. 

Julia Meehan

Swap the corporate stores like Target and T.J. Maxx for sidewalk shops of consignment, vintage and boutique styles by shopping small and supporting the local shops in Campustown and downtown Ames.

“I shop small because often times it is more affordable, you find more unique prices and it is more of a fun experience,” said Kyndal Reimer, a surrounding area photographer for kyndalelisephotography. “It makes me feel like I am actually helping someone make a living doing what they love.”

Here is a guide to a few small shops near Iowa State’s campus.

Portobello Road

Portobello Road has up-to-date trends so anyone can turn a fresh, fashionable look into a chic outfit to strut on campus. The items in the store are endless with jewelry, purses, candles and a wide variety of clothes such as graphic tees, oversized sweaters, mom jeans and more.

“Portobello Road stands out to me because of the online presence it has, and the thought put into all of the items in the store,” said Tess Doheny, a junior in advertising. “You can tell they really listen to customers wants and set the store up for us.”

Customers can purchase goods through Portobello Road by commenting on the post, sending a direct message on Instagram, shooting an email over the phone and it will be shipped to their doorstep.

The Loft

College students who are on a budget can stop by the Loft, a consignment store offering a large selection of name brand men’s and women’s clothing at a discounted price. 

“When I lived in Ames, I would go to the Loft about every week,” said Serena Schmidt, an alumna from Iowa State. “They always had new items, in good condition, so shopping there was like shopping full price, but my wallet was not crying.”

Hannah Mauser, a junior in apparel, merchandising and design said The Loft prices and quality are exactly the kind of second-hand shopping college students can easily afford without spending a fortune on new items they may only wear once or twice.

“My overall experience at the Loft has been amazing every time I step in,” Mauser said. “The staff is always really helpful and easy to talk to. It is one of those places I find myself on days with nothing to do.”

There are resale items of name brands such as Nike, Kate Spade and New Balance.

“The Loft offers just about everything from Iowa State apparel, tees, jeans, dresses, shoes and jewelry,” Mauser said. “I never fail to pick up a good find when I stop in.”

If you are looking to make some extra change for this weekend without working, you can consign some of your own clothing. 

“Thrifting has become a trend among college students,” Mauser said. “It stands out by offering affordable second-hand clothing and an opportunity to make money off of your old clothes you bring in to resell.”

All it takes is reselling high quality clothing, shoes, accessories and more from your closet and trading in your goods, which are no more than four years old, for 40 percent of the sale price once the good is sold.  

“Unlike Goodwill or Salvation Army, the Loft is organized, and the merchandise is fashionable,” Schmidt said. “I am a huge supporter of second-hand shopping in order to prevent clothing from ending up in the dump.”

Random Goods

Random Goods is located just off Main Street, anyone can find vintage clothing and accessories inside.

“They have a very intentional selection, so you do not have to sift through things endlessly like most massive antique stores,” Elise said. “The ambiance of the whole store is very relaxed, but surrounded by all kinds of fun, lively things.”

Some of the unique items they have are a vintage Polaroid model 95 land camera from the 1940 and a selection of old-fashioned Iowa State apparel, which you could rep at the next sporting event.

“They are like a typical antique shop, minus the clutter,” Elise said. “They stand out in my eyes because of their unique focus on old, quality clothing and costumes, as well as decor items for your home.”

Find out more information and great steals by checking out their websites and social media accounts.

“It is an amazing experience knowing there are quality options right around us like Portobello Road and the Loft,” Mauser said. “If sticking to a sustainable wardrobe, I would also suggest Goodwill and Salvation Army. You would be surprised the gems you find there!”