With the return to campus, many members of the McGill community are meeting off-screen for the first time, finally getting the chance to express themselves through their fashion choices. For the budget-conscious university student, this may sound daunting. However, Montreal’s wide selection of thrift stores, each with their own unique ambience, offer cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternatives to the big name-brand clothing stores.
1. Marché Floh – 4301 Saint Denis Street
Marché Floh is a three-story vintage market that boasts 20 different resellers.
Alex Mondry, the market’s founder, has been passionate about thrifting for years. The business began as a pop-up thrift shop from Mondry’s own home, and eventually grew into larger pop-ups in Montreal’s commercial spaces in collaboration with other vintage resellers. The idea of hosting resellers all under one roof, Mondry explained, became what is now Marché Floh.
“The environment that we want to offer is very judgment-free, inclusive, [and] expressive, [where someone can] look for any type of piece and probably find it,” Mondry said in an interview with The McGill Tribune.
Marché Floh’s stock includes ‘90s and early 2000s streetwear, baby-doll and goth styles, as well as hand-painted pieces.
Key to thrifting’s appeal, Mondry said, is the eclectic flare that vintage pieces bring to one’s wardrobe.
“Thrift shopping simulates a creative style that is different from shopping in a big-box store,” Mondry said. “You’re rarely going to run into someone with the same outfit as you.”
Mondry also recognizes that thrift shopping helps minimize waste in the fashion industry.
“People who thrift are helping us keep garments out of the landfill,” Mondry said.
2. LNF Shop – 5319 Park Avenue
For those looking for a thrift shop focussed on ‘90s nostalgia and high-quality brand name accessories, look no further than LNF Shop. Known for its denim, graphic T-shirts, and accessories, the shop is conveniently located within walking distance of the McGill campus.
Charlie Whitley, LNF Shop’s co-owner, is a former American Apparel employee who was inspired to add to Montreal’s vintage scene—which was lacking when LNF Shop started 10 years ago.
“[It’s very] heavy ‘90s nostalgia, while trying to keep up with current trends,” Whitley said. “The care that goes into the products and the selection process [sets LNF Shop apart].”
Items come from a variety of independent suppliers across Canada and are sold at affordable prices.
The number of students opting to shop at thrift shops instead of big-box retailers is encouraging to Whitely, who is happy to see that many have shifted toward a more environmentally conscious lifestyle.
3. Cul-De-Sac – 3794 St. Laurent Boulevard
Cul-De-Sac sells a variety of collectable pieces spanning multiple decades. It also boasts an in-house workshop where thrifted pieces can be modified and repaired.
Co-owner and manager Marc Jetté is no stranger to Montreal’s thrifting scene: 17 years ago, he began selling bags made out of recyclable materials, and his business eventually grew to include other accessories and clothing items.
Jetté highlighted that many of Cul-De-Sac’s garments are of high quality because they were made during time periods when production methods were more thorough than they are now in the fast fashion industry.
“When people buy [from Cul-De-Sac], they are buying from a time period where things were made better.”
But if you are really into it for saving money, in good years there are endless garage and rummage sales, and book sales tor books, where prices are way lower. There’s also lots thrown out, you just have to watch for it. It’s the “raw” stuff.
These locations are only thrifty in a relative sense. Someone’s already gone to those raw sources, and now expects a premium price for having gone looking for it. It still seems to be fashion, buy what’s desirable.
And maybe instead of buying items deemed desirable, best to buy durable items that won’t go out of fashion. Do it when buying new, and do it when buying used.
That’s the real “thrifting scene”