A Guest Blog Post
by Lisa Kramer of Lisa Kramer Vintage
Antiquing in Florida can be a treasure trove. Palm Beach County is thick with thrift shops, some of which are pretty grungy and others that are as elegant as a high-end boutique. On a recent buying trip I visited many of them and found several worth repeat visits. Goodwill has a lot of stores in Palm Beach County and there is a clear hierarchy among them. At the top of this hierarchy, and by far the most elegant thrift shop I’ve ever been to, is the Goodwill Embassy Boutique in Palm Beach. Located in the heart of a cluster of high-end consignment and vintage shops, and featuring beautiful built-in wood cabinets, if you didn’t know that this was Goodwill you wouldn’t know that it was Goodwill.
The prices are also higher than a typical Goodwill, but generally reasonable for the quality of merchandise. It is clear that Goodwill sends a lot of its best items to this shop. I found a beautiful two-tone 1940’s link bracelet there. They also have a lot of newer vintage and contemporary designer clothing with a whole rack devoted to local favorite Lilly Pulitzer. One caveat: Goodwill is a charity and not always expert on telling genuine designer goods from fakes, so on high-end items it’s best that you know how to identify them yourself (when I was there a woman familiar with Tiffany crystal told me that a bowl that she was examining was a fake).
More on Antiquing in Florida…
Next in the hierarchy is what are known as Goodwill “Boutiques”. These boutiques have high quality merchandise that is well-organized and in great condition. The prices are higher than at non-boutique Goodwills, but less than the Palm Beach store. At the southern end of Palm Beach County the Boca Raton Goodwill Boutique had nice newish clothing and accessories; during my visit they also had large collection of vintage teapots and pitchers and lots of sets of vintage china and crystal. Most of the jewelry was contemporary costume jewelry. Working northward, the Palm Beach Gardens Goodwill Boutique is the largest I’ve ever seen. There was a particularly good assortment of newish high-quality kitchen ware, and some nice sofas in nearly new condition. It also had some nice vintage jewelry, although I didn’t purchase anything. And most exciting, Goodwill just moved their Vintage Shop into this Goodwill (it was not there during my visit in late July and, miraculously, appeared when I re-visited in mid-August).
At the northern end of Palm Beach County the town of Jupiter is a good place to go thrifting. While not strong on vintage, the Goodwill Super Store in Jupiter is a very nice store for general thrifting, with lower prices than at the Boutiques. Also in Jupiter, though not a thrift store, is the Sims Creek Antique Mall. The day I was there the store was low on merchandise as there had been a clearance auction held there the night before. Nevertheless, there was a lovely collection of Victorian clothing and a few great pieces of clothing from the 20’s and 30’s. Once they knew that I was looking for vintage jewelry, the friendly owners pulled out some nice Scandinavian silver and enamel jewelry that wasn’t on display because of the previous night’s auction.
Here are a few of the pieces pieces that I purchased:
A short ride south from Jupiter on Highway 1 is an excellent thrift shop in Juno Beach run by Hospice of Palm Beach County. Somewhat hidden away from the road in a shopping center, this thrift shop is well worth seeking out. While their prices are in the high end of the range of thrift shop prices they get high-quality merchandise and in the past I’ve purchased Mexican jewelry, a modernist silver ring, a chrome and glass coffee table, and a Tiffany crystal ice bucket at this shop. They are also strong on contemporary women’s clothing, housewares, and books. Hospice of Palm Beach County also has a nice thrift shop in West Palm Beach on Military Trail near Belvedere Road.
A few blocks south of the Hospice of Palm Beach County Thrift store in West Palm Beach is the Salvation Army Family Store. While the main store is nothing special, there is an adjacent Salvation Army boutique that specializes in vintage goods. On this particular trip they had a decent selection of vintage clothing including some great beaded and embroidered Indian tunics, and a nice grouping of Chinese tchotkes. While their selection of jewelry on this visit was limited, I’ve picked up some nice pieces there in the past.
Where else can you go antiquing in Florida? In West Palm Beach, just north of Antique Row on South Dixie Highway, is the Nearly New thrift store. This store has a lot of high-end merchandise at mid-range prices. During my visit they had a great selection of designer shoes. Had they fit me I would have gladly purchased a pair of unworn Thierry Rabotan shoes for $60 as they are phenomenally comfortable and stylish and retail for $400-550. There was a limited amount of jewelry on my visit but lots of high-quality clothing, furniture, and housewares.
Where to eat:
One of my favorite restaurants in Palm Beach County is located in Jupiter, Little Moir’s Food Shack and I actually discovered the thrift shops of Jupiter during visits to “the Shack” as most people call it. Behind the funky decor and strip mall location is a kitchen that really knows how to cook seafood. Everything I’ve had there has been excellent including fried oyster salad, ceviche, steamed clams, broiled scallops, and an unusual onion soup topped with blue cheese. But beware, it’s very popular, having received top reviews from Zagat and the NY Times. I like showing up for a late afternoon lunch on a weekday to avoid long waits since they don’t take reservations.
West Palm Beach Little Moir’s Food Shack: 103 US 1, Jupiter (at intersection of US 1 and Indiantown Road)
Palm Beach County, Florida Thrift Stores:
Goodwill Embassy Boutique: 210 Sunset Avenue
Palm Beach Goodwill Boutique: 1662 N. Federal Highway
Boca Raton Goodwill Boutique: 4224 Northlake Boulevard
Palm Beach Gardens Goodwill Super Store: 1280 W. Indiantown Road
Jupiter Sims Creek Antique Mall: 1695 W. Indiantown Road
Jupiter Hospice of Palm Beach County: 863 Donald Ross Road, Juno Beach (in Plaza La Mer shopping Center off US 1)
Hospice of Palm Beach County: 1324 N. Military Trail
West Palm Beach Nearly New Thrift Shop, S. Dixie Highway
West Palm Beach Salvation Army, 655 N. Military Trail,
Note: While I checked out a few non-boutique Goodwills I didn’t find any others that distinguished themselves from average thrift shops. However, if you’re interested in searching them out, most of the Goodwills that I visited had a printed list of all their shops in the “Gulfstream Goodwill” region, which encompasses Palm Beach County, Martin County, St. Lucie County, Indian River County, and Okeechobee County.
About the Author
Lisa Kramer has been selling antique and vintage jewelry since the late ’90’s at shows throughout the San Francisco Bay Area: the Art Deco Show, the Hillsborough Antique Show, the Vintage Clothing Expo and several others. when she’s not antiquing in Florida, she’s working on her collection of vintage jewelry and clothing that she’s curated for decades, since she was teenager combing vintage clothing stores in New York City (where she grew up). In addition to shows, she has a shop on Ruby Lane, Lisa Kramer Vintage.
With a background in architecture and archeology her interests are in the design and history of jewelry. Her interests are wide ranging and eclectic, from the Georgian era through the 1970’s and from inexpensive to extravagant treasures. Her background helps her in identifying the age of jewelry: styles, motifs, and historical revivals were used in both architecture and the other decorative arts, including jewelry. She also loves to study how a piece of jewelry has been constructed; this, combined with its style, helps her determine its age. She spends a great deal of time doing research and her website Lisa Kramer Vintage is a venue for writing about jewelry history; reviews of exhibits, books and other media; articles about travel, with a focus on antiquing; and other design topics that interest her. And, since she’s also passionate about food, her travel articles include restaurant recommendations and the occasional recipe. Antiquing is always better when you eat well!
Lisa is a member of the Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts (ASJRA), Costume Jewelry Collectors International, the Art Deco Society of California, and the Art Jewelry Forum. She recently completed the Accredited Jewelry Professional program of the Gemological Institute of America.
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