Are you looking for the favorite sweater you had in the 1970’s? Or the most comfortable pair of jeans you’ve ever worn? Look no further!
What started as a mission to find the jeans that always fit the best, thereby making me feel better about everything, turned into a vintage clothes shopping weekend. Not only did I find the brand and style of jeans I was looking for, but came home with several other unplanned treasures.
The best places to find vintage clothing are scattered throughout Des Moines, from the downtown area to the suburbs of West Des Moines. Be sure to call first if you plan to shop at a later hour or on Sunday, as some of these shops are owner operated and have shortened hours.
The Atomic Garage
127 5th St. Valley Junction
West Des Moines, IA
Directions: Located in Valley Junction (old West Des Moines), take the 8th Street exit off of I-235, south on 8th St. to Railroad Ave., east on Railroad Ave. to 5th St. (5th St. is one-way, northbound only!)
This is the best place to find jeans, work shirts, shoes, jewelry, hats, and shoes from those days gone by. The Atomic Garage has a very knowlegable staff that actually allow you to shop, but are there to assist with any questions you may have. They are replenished regularly with clean, well made vintage clothing, as well as all of the accessories you will need to show off.
The store itself is set up to accommodate the shopper, offering a huge assortment of items without being overfilled. Items are easy to find and well displayed. They take a “hands on” approach to shopping, meaning you are allowed to handle any merchandise you are interested in. They also offer a large assortment of sizes, so you don’t have to be a size 6 to find something you like. Everything from “elevator shoes” to the favorite Levi’s that your mom donated years ago can be found at this vintage clothing store.
400 Maple St. Valley Junction
West Des Moines, IA
You could easily spend the entire weekend perusing the shops of Valley Junction in West Des Moines. While you are there, be sure to stop in to Rose’s, especially if you are searching for vintage clothing. Rose’s shop is chock full of clothing and accessories from days gone by.
Barbara’s Consignment Boutique
5601 Hickman Road
Des Moines, IA
Directions: Take the 56th St. exit off of I-235, north on 56th St. to University, west on University to Merle Hay Road, north on Merle Hay Rd. to Hickman Rd., east on Hickman Rd. ½ block on north side of Hickman Rd.
Barbara’s Consignment Boutique has been around ever since I can remember. It is a great shop both for buying and selling vintage clothing. Everything from leisure suits to prom dresses can be found here, and all of the great accessories, too. All of the items are clean, well displayed, and easily accessible. A great thing about Barbara’s is that you can find a vintage out fit and dress it up for today’s styles. For example, prom dresses can be altered and added to, providing an alternative to spending hundreds of dollars on the “one-time” dress.
1733 Grand Ave.
Directions: Take the Martin Luther King Blvd. exit off of I-235, south on MLK Blvd. to Grand Ave., east on Grand Ave. to 1733 Grand Ave.
For quality, truly beautiful, vintage clothing and dresses in Des Moines, you simply have to go to Dorothea’s Closet. Don’t believe me? Just visit their website to get a full view of what you are about to experience. These are some of the classiest, well made vintage dresses and accessories in Des Moines. Though not for the true bargain hunter, these dresses are closer to the $100 mark and up. You certainly get everything you pay for. If you are looking for that Jackie Kennedy dress (or one that looks close), this is without a doubt the shop for you.
509 N. Ankeny Blvd.
Directions: Take E 14th St. exit off I-235, north on E 14th St., NE 14th St. turns into N. Ankeny Blvd. in Ankeny, located on east side of N. Ankeny Blvd.
If you have only donated to Goodwill Industries, please take the time to go inside and shop. This can be an incredible place to find vintage clothes and treasures of every shape and size. Whether you are in need of plain white shirts, a leisure suit, or shoes from yesteryear, this is where you will find it at an awesome price. The drawback is that these items are not required to be cleaned prior to sale, so do some inspection (most people do launder prior to donation). The best part is that there are so many stores available, and every one carries different items as people donate from different areas of town. Almost all of the proceeds go to their clients (people with severe disabilities), so you are doing a good deed while you find your vintage treasures.
If you still cannot find the right vintage clothing in the shops listed above, check eBay. Many of these same stores offer their most prized possessions on auction sites. Happy treasure hunting!