Last year a friend messaged to let me know there was a promotional Walking Dead backpack at one of the thrift stores in the Valley. We’re talking about a fake-blood-splattered regular-sized pack with the words “Zombie Survival Kit” on the front and the Walking Dead logo on a side pocket.
My oldest daughter was obsessively going through the entire series and loved the show. This would make the perfect gift for her. Sadly, I didn’t read the message until the thrift shop had closed, so I made a plan to visit the store on my lunch break the next day.
I grabbed my friend, who had initially seen the backpack, and we headed to the thrift store. We only had about an hour; there was no extra time for our usual thrift-shop adventures. We needed to be quick. It was: get in, get zombie backpack, pay, get out. Easy-peasy, right?
We entered the store and beelined it to the aisle where she had seen it mere hours before. It wasn’t there. Heartbroken, we went through the motions of disbelief and sadness before deciding not to give up so easily. We split up: I scoured the store, hanger to hanger and aisle to aisle, and she asked staff if they knew what happened to the zombie bag.
No one knew where it was. We were losing steam, giving up hope. Then, like a shining beacon, we saw it at the end of an aisle, just hanging there, begging to be picked up. We screamed in delight, did a happy dance, and may have even shed a few tears. Even the staff was cheering.
These are the moments I live for.
What I love about thrifting is finding unexpected, unique things you didn’t even know existed, let alone needed (like, now), and the joy they bring to your life… All for a discounted price.
Thrifting is one of my favourite parts of living in the Comox Valley. With caps on garbage pickup and many environmentally and community-focused citizens, this is the perfect place to find anything you could need (or want) for your home, office, and life, second-hand.
In no particular order, here’s a list of my favourite Comox Valley second-hand shops. Shopping at any of these locations is a win-win: you save money and support a worthy organization that helps our community.
TOO GOOD TO BE THREW
AKA TGTBT, 456 5TH ST & 239 PUNTLEDGE, COURTENAY
My daughters and I visit these two thrift stores on a biweekly basis. They help fund the Comox Valley Transition Society, which supports women and children in our community who have experienced gender-based violence.
The 5th Street shop contains mostly clothing (for men, women, and children), shoes, jewelry, and handbags. The Puntledge location stocks housewares, toys, shoes, art and craft supplies, linens, blankets, and even more womenswear.
THINGS I LOVE ABOUT TGTBT: they have common pricing for most items, so a name brand like Calvin Klein is the same price as fast fashion like Joe Fresh; they go through items to make sure everything works and clothing is free from holes and stains; and their staff is super-helpful and friendly. They also run great online auctions on Facebook for luxury and one-of-a-kind pieces.
VISIT TGTBT FOR: clothing (especially children’s, women’s sportswear, and plus sizes), books, family board games, and toys. They’re also THE best place for holiday shopping, including items like Christmas trees, Halloween costumes, and seasonal attire.
COMOX VALLEY RESTORE
1755 13TH ST, COURTENAY
While renovating my 80-year-old house, my partner and I have become regulars at the ReStore. This place is a DIYer’s dream, carrying everything from building supplies to hardware and tools to furniture and fixtures. Plus, the money generated from the store goes to support Habitat for Humanity home-building projects. You fix up your space while helping fund a new home for someone in your community.
THINGS I LOVE ABOUT RESTORE: all electronics and tools are tested before being put on the shelf, so you can trust you are buying something that works; they’re great with returns; they help you load your vehicle; and they’re excellent at answering questions.
VISIT RESTORE FOR: lighting, flooring, small electronics, and budget tools.
CATS THRIFT CORNER
863 KNIGHT RD, COMOX
CATS is the newest thrift shop in the Valley and, as a family with rescued pets, we were excited to check it out. It’s a small space filled from top to bottom with the coolest knick-knacks and housewares. All the proceeds go to rescuing, relocating, and advocating for fuzzy feline friends.
THINGS I LOVE ABOUT CATS THRIFT CORNER: they have the sweetest, friendliest volunteers; they have quality, fun things for your home; and they take pride in how items are displayed. It’s like going through your grandma’s coolest dishes, glassware, and pieces that you’ve secretly coveted your entire life—and being able to take them home.
VISIT CATS THRIFT CORNER FOR: candle holders, cups and mugs, dishes, irresistible curios and trinkets, and, of course, brand-new cat toys and accessories.
AUXILIARY THRIFT SHOP
ST. JOSEPH’S HOSPITAL BUILDING, COMOX
This gem of a thrift shop supports the Auxiliary Society for Comox Valley Healthcare, which raises funds for patient care and comfort in the Valley. It’s not the most organized local thrift store, but it’s definitely the cheapest. If you’re a frugal thrifter with the patience to go through items, it’s absolutely worth your time and effort.
THINGS I LOVE ABOUT THE AUXILIARY THRIFT SHOP:
it’s a lot like the thrift shops of my childhood. You can spend hours finding small treasures and still not see everything—and there’s something for everyone.
VISIT THE AUXILIARY THRIFT SHOP FOR:for: clothing and household items like linens and blankets.
I look at thrifting as an adventure. If something screams my name, I pick it up and pay the low cost. If it doesn’t fit or work in my space, I’ll donate it back to the thrift shop for someone else to get excited about. It’s a win for my wallet, the environment, and local charities. Plus, I can gleefully proclaim, “I got all this for only twenty bucks!”