Sometimes you want to shop. Sometimes you want to help people.

Sometimes you get to help people by shopping, and this is the Holy Grail.

Enter Second Chance Retail.

The thrift shop, in the Gridiron Plaza on Lisbon Street in Lewiston, is run by the nonprofit An Angel’s Wing Inc., which sends the proceeds to places that help people with addiction. So that kitschy $10 lamp you just bought? Helping people! That armful of used books? Helping people!

Those 15 Christmas presents you just hauled up to the register? Helping people! And also yourself because now your list is down to just Aunt Marta and she only wants chocolate!

The shop itself is huge, filled with donated clothes, toys, electronics, household goods and, oddly enough, some new over-the-counter medication and medical supplies donated by Rite Aid. Some of the shop’s inventory is vintage. Other stuff is just . . . dusty. More than a few things look new.

Second Chance is definitely the kind of place one should venture into without expectations. Maybe you’ll find a scarf, maybe a computer desk.

Maybe you’ll help change someone’s life.

Vintage hats come with a hat box at Second Chance Retail in Lewiston. Look like a million dollars for just $25.

• Vintage hat with box, $25

Women’s hats with faux flowers, beads, fur or soft fabrics. Perfect for going to church. Or, heck with it, toss on a 1960s pillbox style hat when you go for a grocery run. You’ll be the fanciest looking person taking a number at the deli.

• Coffee mugs, 25 cents

Dozens of styles, sizes and colors, but just be savvy about the mug you choose. It will forever mark you as someone who really likes cherubs or 1970s inspirational sayings. Though this is an excellent way to flaunt your new title as “Best Teacher EVER.”

• Wedding dresses, $19.99 and up

Some people save their wedding dress for a lifetime, settling it securely in a lined box, storing it in a climate-controlled room, so the gown will remain pristine for generations. Other people found their spouse hooking up with the nanny. So.

Second Chances offered an array of strapless, sleeved, sparkly and plain gowns in a variety of sizes. Some needed a little love, but others looked new, still tucked inside their David’s Bridal bag. Prices range from $20 to more than $100, so go with an open mind and a little bit of cash.

• Rite-Aid items, $1 and up

Things you don’t expect to find in a secondhand shop: new over-the-counter medications and medical supplies. But here they are! The shop had shelves full of items, including cane tips, a mail-in DNA kit, nasal spray, laxatives and an eye patch. I don’t really recommend these particular items as holiday gifts, but you know your family better than I do.

• Baby and toddler clothes, 0 to 24 months, $1.99 each or 10 for $10

Adorable stuff and gently used because babies outgrow their clothes every three-and-a-half minutes. Approximately.

• Single bed frame, black, $60

It’s a frame for a single bed. It’s black. And it’s still in the box, so possibly new? That’s all the intel I could gather without taking the frame pieces out of the box and actually putting them together in the middle of the store, which might have drawn some attention when Shopping Siren is supposed to be undercover. Not at all like when I almost knocked over a stack of used board games — twice — and walked into an entire Christmas tree. Stealthy is in the eye of the beholder.

• Books, $1 for paperbacks and $3 for hardcovers

For me, this is what thrift stores are all about. Books! So many books. Meg Cabot next to Carl Sagan next to a tome about beer. There’s something for everyone. Potentially five things for everyone. Really, there were a lot of books.

Best find: Faux Christmas tree with ornaments, $74.99

Full tree, about 6 or 7 feet tall, covered in bits and baubles for the holiday. Just haul it home and call your seasonal decorating good. It’s a Christmas miracle!

Think twice: About not stopping by

You want to help. You want to shop. It’s your chance to do both.

Shopping Siren’s true identity is protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (who are never stealthy and they know it) and the Customer Service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].


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