The Hillcrest Center strip mall on White Bear Avenue in St. Paul is home to an outpost of Arc’s Value Village and Joyful African Foods. It’s a one-two punch that makes our thrifty little hearts explode with joy.
Arc’s has thrift stores in Bloomington, New Hope, and Richfield, but we’ve gotten the luckiest plundering the racks and shelves in St. Paul. Books and vinyl are always 50 percent off on Mondays, while weekly tag sales have us loading up a cart faster than contestants on Supermarket Sweep. If you rock secondhand clothing as well as local artist Ashley Mary, spirited vintage hound Thrifty Virgo, or any of the A+ vendors at the Minneapolis Vintage Market, bring a pickaxe ‘cause this place is a damn goldmine.
For folks who need a little more help in the wardrobe department, consider making a (free!) appointment for a 75-minute styling session with one of Arc’s personal shoppers, a.k.a. the Thrift Stylists. Afterward, hit up the furniture and housewares sections, Domestic Conjecture-style, keeping your eyes peeled for the odd rainbow mug, brass candleholder, Swedish souvenir plate, espresso machine, or mid-‘60s arched wicker shelf. (We scored that last one for the criminally low price of $11 last spring.)
Arc’s stores are clean and well-organized, despite 20,000 new items arriving every day, and proceeds go toward a good cause: The Arc Minnesota, a nonprofit which advocates for the intellectually and developmentally disabled.
Before peeling out of the parking lot with all your new finds, walk one door down and check out Lara Juduh’s Joyful African Foods, a no-frills grocery store brimming with hard-to-find ingredients like boxed fufu mix, cassava leaf, goat meat, neon orange palm oil, and Liberian fried pepper sauce. If you buy just one thing here, make it the Nadina hot pepper sauce sold near the register. It’s made in small batches in St. Paul and it’ll burn your face off in the most delicious way possible. 🔥
Arc’s Value Village
1650 White Bear Ave. N., St. Paul, MN; 651-788-8300.
Joyful African Foods
1628 White Bear Ave. N., St. Paul, MN; 651-225-1713.