Give a second life to those household items that have outlived their use

By Jenny Wisniewski

Spring cleaning has begun in many households. Did you know that the annual practice is rooted in centuries of tradition? 

Within the Jewish diaspora, the rite is linked to the spring holiday of Passover. According to the Book of Exodus, the Israelites fled Egypt so quickly they did not have time for their bread to rise so had to settle for unleavened bread during the journey. As a reminder, Jews clean to remove any chametz, or yeast bread, from the home.

In Iran, the tradition precedes a 13-day spring celebration known as Nowruz, the Persian New Year. A clean house helps Persians start the year fresh. 

Many other religions and cultures follow similar customs. On a practical level, we clean in the spring to rid our homes of the salt, mud, and other grime that human and pet feet have dragged in throughout the winter.

And in addition to cleansing, there is the sorting of clothes that no longer fit, the organizing of closets that are no longer tidy, and the rearranging of garages that are cluttered with shovels and snowblowers thrown about.  With all of this cleaning comes a collective purge. Still several weeks away from rummage-sale season, you may be looking for a place to get rid of your stuff. 

If your habit is to deliver the items to the dump or leave them at the curb, this is a great time to consider resale. By taking the items to a nearby shop (or in some cases, having them picked up) you are helping the environment by reducing waste in landfills where it will likely take years to decompose. You may also be helping your community as the proceeds of many local thrift stores are used to support programs for those in need. You may even be helping yourself; if your items are accepted at a consignment store, you earn part of the profit. 

Following is a list of thrift, consignment and other resale shops in Wauwatosa and its surrounding areas. Happy spring cleaning!

Thrift Stores

St. Jude the Apostle Thrift

Located on the northwestern corner of the St. Jude the Apostle campus, the building that houses the thrift shop originally functioned as the St. Jude the Apostle convent. Enter at the door on the western side of the building. And a word for those with limited mobility — the shop is located in the basement, so descending a flight of stairs is required.

This thrift shop is a Wauwatosa staple, having been around for over forty years. It carries clothing for men, women and children; linens; home decor; books; toys; kitchen items and small furniture. And, like most thrift stores, you will always have the opportunity to stumble upon that item that you didn’t know you wanted until you arrived — like a snowboard and helmet.

Donated items can be brought into the shop or placed in the shed behind the building.

822 Glenview Ave. Wauwatosa 414-259-0975 Hours Wednesday 10 am – 4 pm Saturday 9 am – 2 pm

St. Mary’s Thrift Shop

St. Mary’s Thrift Shop is located in the heart of Elm Grove’s village, not far from Wauwatosa’s western border. The shop is connected to the school building and can be accessed through the Juneau Street parking lot and entrance. In it, you can browse through rooms filled with home goods; books; toys; sporting goods; fabric, knitting, sewing and craft supplies; and small furniture.

Deliver donations at the drive-up drop off, which you can locate by entering the church parking lot from Church Street. You will find the donation door towards the far east end of the lot.

13150 Juneau Blvd. Elm Grove 262-784-6644 Hours Monday – Friday  9 am – 4 pm (Closed on Wednesdays) Saturday 9 am – 1 pm

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is an international organization that provides a wide array of services including homeless shelters, veteran services and after-school programs.

The Wauwatosa site, the divisional headquarters for Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, offers a drop box for donations. Also in close proximity is the West Allis Family Store and Donation Center (7713 W. Greenfield Ave). Accepted items include clothing, toys, housewares, appliances, furniture and books. If donating at this location, boxed or bagged items can be brought directly into the store.

In addition, a donation pickup service is available and can be accessed through their website. Proceeds from the thrift stores help support Adult Rehabilitation Centers for individuals struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.

11315 W. Watertown Plank Road, Wauwatosa 414-302-4300 Hours Monday – Saturday 10 am – 6 pm

Goodwill Store and Distribution Center

One of the larger resale stores in the area, Goodwill features clothing for men, women and children. With their ample space, they have room for changing rooms, not found in every thrift store. In addition to clothing, Goodwill carries home accessories, books, limited furniture, costumes, toys, sports equipment and electronics.

Goodwill prides itself on contributing to a green planet. The employee staff shirts promote “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” with good reason. Every article of clothing or other item that you purchase at Goodwill is an item not thrown into landfill. And in 2020 alone, that amounted to 139,292,515 pounds nationwide. Beyond sustainability, Goodwill focuses on providing training, employment and supportive services for people living with disabilities or other disadvantages.

If interested in donating to Goodwill, look for the drive-through dropoff on the northern side of the building. Friendly employees will be ready to unload your car.

12121 W. Feerick St. Wauwatosa 414-393-1487 Hours Monday – Saturday 10 am – 7 pm Sunday 10 am – 5 pm

Willy Will Thrift Store

In the area for ten years, this shop along Bluemound Road is nestled between Barbiere’s Pizza on one side and two other small businesses on the other. Though its environs are cozy, it carries a variety of items including apparel for men and women, some toys, dvds and records, tools, and a few small appliances and pieces of furniture. And occasionally the unexpected item – like a shower seat with no-slip feet – will turn up.

If making a donation, items can be carried directly into the store. Pick-ups can also be arranged.

5836 W. Bluemound Road, Milwaukee 414-640-8817 Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 9 am – 3 pm


Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity Restore

Restore carries items for a specific niche: anything that goes into building, improving or outfitting homes. This includes appliances, furniture and home decor, building materials, cabinets, windows and doors, lighting, electronics, lawn and garden tools and decor, hardware and tools, paint supplies, lighting, flooring, and plumbing supplies.

Donations can be dropped off at the store, and for large donations, pickups can be scheduled. The Restore also offers deconstruction services to salvage reusable items like cabinets from a residential or commercial property.

Not only can you find great bargains for improving your own home, you can feel good knowing that someone else will give a second life to an item you can no longer use. And, the proceeds contribute to building safe and affordable homes in our community.

3015 N. 114th St. Wauwatosa 414-257-9078 Hours Tuesday – Friday 10 am – 6 pm Saturday 10 am – 4 pm

The Economy Center Resale Shop

The Economy Center Resale Shop is run by Lutheran Counseling and Family Services. It sells clothing for infants through adults, formal wear, linens, home goods, books, small appliances, tools, sporting goods and small electronics. And they offer daily and weekly specials and discounts.

To donate, drive to the back of the building during business hours and ring the buzzer. Someone will be available to assist you.

All profits support Lutheran Counseling and Family Services programs including alcohol and drug treatment, counseling for military veterans and service members, in-school counseling for at-risk youth and adoption services.

7814 W. Burleigh St. Milwaukee 414-442-2272 Hours Tuesday – Friday 9:30 am – 4 pm Saturday 9:30 – 3 pm

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Optimist’s Bazaar

It may be consignment, but Optimist’s Bazaar feels more like a first-time-around furniture shop. That is because its owner, Betsy Peckenpaugh, knows how to select gently used, quality pieces and design a showroom. She is also the owner of Uncommon Walls, an interior design and remodeling firm.

With Optimist’s Bazaar, Peckenpaugh’s mission is to reduce waste. On the shop’s website, she states: “We believe this business model is an important piece of the puzzle in the pressing ecological need of creating less waste on the planet. We are passionate about intelligent consumption reinventing, and all that is interior design.”

The shop (which requires navigating a flight of stairs) is filled with treasures — original artwork, unique tables and chests of drawers, Persian rugs and more.

To consign, she recommends emailing a photo of your proposed piece to or stopping by with the piece. If the piece is approved, a contract is provided. Payment (50 percent of the selling price) is available after the piece is sold.

10600 W. Bluemound Rd., Suite 1 Wauwatosa 414-885-0352 Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10 am – 5 pm Thursday 10 am – 7 pm

Levine’s Consignment and Resale Boutique

f looking for a place that focuses only on clothing (plus accessories), take a look at Levine’s Consignment and Resale Boutique. Here you will find clothing for both men and women. And reviewers seemed to agree that the service is fantastic; the owner is friendly, accommodating and extremely helpful. For those who prefer to shop from home, online shopping is available.

If looking for a spot to sell clothing, Levine’s looks for items that are unique, name brand or high-quality vintage. Be aware that they have a limit of 15 seasonal items. Levine’s offers 40 percent of the sale price after a piece is sold.

5510 W. Center St. Milwaukee 414-459-1123


Spruced 57

This shop is among several fun boutiques that have popped up in recent years along Vliet Street. Owner Jessica Brittingham is a veteran in the consignment business; she is one of the owners of the former U-Turn, the successful consignment shop that was located on East Tosa’s North Avenue. As a result, she knows how to find and stage upscale, hip clothes for women. Her newest venture, Spruced 57, also carries shoes and accessories such as jewelry, scarves and purses. 

If interested in selling, items need to be brought in on hangers. Stop in or call the shop to find out which brands are accepted. Brittingham will display accepted items for 60 days and offers 40 percent of the sale price to the seller. After 60 days, the owner can retrieve the item or allow it to be donated to Community Advocates, an organization that assists low-income individuals seeking work. 

5706 W. Vliet St. Milwaukee 414-988-4027 Hours Wednesday 12 pm – 6 pm Thursday 11am – 5 pm Friday 11 am – 4 pm Saturday 11 am – 3 pm   

The Ottoman Society

The Ottoman Society is tucked away behind Great Harvest Bread in Elm Grove’s Mill Place. Wander through the shop’s multiple rooms showcasing furniture, rugs, original artwork, lamps and various trinkets. With things coming and going with frequency, if you stumble upon a rare gem, don’t wait to buy. Also, be sure to speak with a salesperson who can explain their pricing system; most items are marked down after sitting a month or more. 

The shop offers another customer-friendly policy with most items in the store. Prior to buying, you can take a piece home for up to two days to determine if it works in your space.  (The exceptions are large pieces of furniture and rugs that are difficult to move.) 

For consignment approval, either email a picture of the item you would like to sell to shop@the or bring it into the shop. Upon selling the item, you will receive 50 percent of the profit.

13408 Watertown Plank Road Elm Grove 262-786-1786 Hours Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 10 am – 5 pm Thursday 10 am – 7 pm

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Direct Purchase

Play It Again Sports

As its name implies, Play it Again Sports is unique in that it only buys and sells sporting, fitness and outdoor items. This includes baseball gloves, skateboards, curling accessories, camping gear, dumbbells, hockey sticks and more. If you have a child athlete in the family who seems to be growing by the week, this is the store for you. At the same time, Mom and Dad can find items for themselves as it carries adult equipment, too. 

Play It Again Sports buys used equipment on the spot. You can simply walk into the store without an appointment and after a staff review, receive an offer. Note that Play It Again moved west down Capitol Avenue from its long-time location in Milwaukee to Brookfield. 

And as noted on their website, Play It Again Sports exemplifies sustainability at work. It can take over 1,000 years for the composite materials, plastics and metals in most athletic equipment to decompose. By keeping these items in play, they are keeping them out of landfill. 

14155 W. Capitol Dr. Brookfield 414-461-5600 Hours Monday – Saturday 9 am – 5 pm


This renovated former heating company and auto garage was designed as a modern industrial space with a multi-purpose intent — a vintage shop in the front and a spacious event venue in the back. At Dandy’s vintage shop, you will find a potpourri of furniture, lamps, clothing, quilts, and what the owners call kitsch. (A set of roller skates from the 1940s, anyone?) 

Owners Ryan Day and Jess Anderson (Day + Anderson = Dandy) find most of the items themselves, but they do buy limited items from others as long as it fits their definition of vintage —  turn of the century through the 1980s. If interested, they will make an offer and buy the item outright. They recommend forwarding a picture of the item through 

5020 W. Vliet Milwaukee 414-982-5020 Hours Friday 12 pm – 7 pm Saturday and Sunday 12 pm – 5 pm