Our Favorite Richmond Virginia Activities, Shops, & Eats

Exactly eight years ago today, Sherry and I picked up and moved from NYC to Richmond, VA together. Apart from the towns that we grew up in, neither of us have ever lived any place longer – and it’s the only hometown that Clara has ever known. So we thought it would be fun to commemorate this date – and this city that we love. Especially since you guys ask us plenty of “when in Rome Richmond” questions – the biggest one being “what thrift/discount stores should I hit up when I pass through?”


Three years ago we celebrated our 5th anniversary by sharing a quick post about our “Five Richmond Top Fives” – but that only mentioned two thrift shops – and we’ve definitely found other haunts, activities, and eateries since then. So we thought a more thorough guide was in order… complete with an interactive map and an itinerary (you know me – I love a good graphic).

And since Richmond was recently named The Best River Town in America and one of Frommer’s Top Destinations for 2014 (only one of three in the US, the others being Palm Springs and Hawaii!), well, we figured our eighth anniversary was the perfect occasion to break things down for you guys.

With the help of modern technology (i.e. Google) we’ve embedded an interactive map with a dozen of our favorite thrift and discount stores in Richmond (green dots), along with some other suggested spots for eating (blue dots), or otherwise having-a-good-time spots (red dots). You can click any of the dots below for more info on each one of them – including a description from us about what you’ll find, some tips about when they’re closed, etc. Note: if you can’t see the map, try clicking here.

And here’s a hypothetical itinerary. It doesn’t include all of the eating options or any of the red dots (those are other fun activities outside of shopping/thrifting) but if you click those dots on the map you’ll get more info on each of those.

Let’s hit the road, shall we? Assuming you’re starting somewhere near the city center, you can head either clockwise or counter-clockwise around the map – we’ll do the latter in this post. Either way, you might want to fuel up at Sugar Shack Donuts or Dixie Donuts (pictured) before you start shopping (check out Sugar Shack’s FB page for secret free donut deals like “recite an ode to your donut”). Most thrift stores don’t open ’til 9 or 10am, so you’ve got time to enjoy it. Oh and many are closed on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays – so try to avoid those days if you want to cram the most in.

Our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore is our go-to spot for donating, and is usually a good shot at finding building materials and fixtures. If you’re more in the market for furniture and accessory finds, you might want to start at Diversity Thrift. We got lots of stuff there over the years, including the glass and metal table in our first house’s living/dining room (we still have it in the garage with a plan for tweaking it for our back porch someday).

Next head north on nearby I-95 to Lakeside Avenue which has a few thrift and antique spots, most notably Consignment Connection. It’s got tons of little rooms full of things, and is sort of a mix between an antique shop and a thrift store. It’s where Sherry found her beloved whale globe.

If you want the inspiration and tools for revamping your thrifted finds – or just want to buy something that has already been made over, make the short trek up I-95 to Ashland and swing by Thrill of the Hunt which has great upcycled furniture.

On your way back, don’t miss Class and Trash for lots of vintage and shabby chic stuff, including tons of metal signs and letters. We try to stop in a few times a season since there’s always a lot of stuff (both big and small) to see. If you’ve haven’t already needed a lunch break, you could pop down to the Short Pump area for a burger. We love Burgerworks for a casual but filling one built to your liking (I always get a fried egg on top). Burger Bach, a New Zealand-style gastropub, is also nearby for a foodie-r experience (it’s really good, but you might have a bit of a wait).

You may just need to go nap and call it a day by this point, but if not – head south on I-288 toward the river. Wait, but slip through HOPE Thrift on your way. It’s the newest store on our radar and we know we’re bound to find something cool there soon. Once you hit Midlothian Turnpike, you’ve entered our main drag of thrift stores. You can start small at RAL Reuse, which we love because it supports the Richmond Animal League. And also because its near one of our favorite cafes, Urban Farmhouse. Even if you’re not hungry, stop in for a coffee/tea and some pretty amazing design inspiration. There’s also a location downtown if you don’t have time to spare.

Further down the road is a Salvation Army Family Center, which is one of the more furniture-heavy thrift stores that we’ve been into locally. If that’s not really what you’re looking for, you can skip it and head straight for The Decorating Outlet. It’s not technically a thrift store, but it’s too full of deals to leave off the list. We get tons of lights there, but we’ve also scored rugs and furniture there too – including our crazy discounted kitchen table.

By the time you get to this part of the route, it means you’re nearing our #1 go-to spot for thrifted furniture: Love of Jesus Thrift Store on Midlothian. They’ve got tons of furniture, and we scored a bunch of stuff for our book there – including this dresser that we painted in a gradient back in 2012 (and still use in our bedroom today). Across the street is Family Thrift Center, which used to just be a convenience (i.e. pity) stop, but we just found this $9.98 headboard for the showhouse there, so it’s a new favorite.

If you still have time (admittedly, doubtful) – Caravati’s is also worth a stop. It’s an architectural salvage place so prices are much higher than thrift stores, but there are such cool sights that make it worth the detour. And once all the stores are closed, hit up the Proper Pie Company for dinner and dessert (yup, they’ve got savory and sweet pies) – along with one last dose of vintage decor inspiration.

Admittedly it’s probably a bit ambitious to cram all of this into just one day, especially if you like to take your time perusing like Sherry does (or take your time eating like I do). But maybe that just means you’ll need to stay the weekend. Or move here entirely. You know, either one works.

Now what about you guys? What are the best thrifting spots in your town? Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a city-by-city database of them somewhere with user rated reviews and a “print me a map” feature so you’d know where to go when you get to a new place? Somebody get on that. Or does it already exist and we’re the last ones to know?


    • Jennifer says

      Too funny – the second I saw that picture, I thought, “Oh man, my (also British) husband would be in heaven if we had one of those up here!”

  1. says

    Admittedly we have never been to Richmond (!) but if we ever make it there, thrifting is definitely on the itinerary! I love thrift stores. Not just for getting good deals, but for donating unwanted things in the hope that someone else will use and love it. In our area (west burbs of Chicago), there are several good places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, and the Brown Elephant local chain. Sometimes we also just shop our back alley, though. ;-)

  2. Janice says

    GREAT post! I’m planning a few day trips and weekend getaways with my son for this summer and I think we’ll add Richmond to the list! THankS!

    • says

      I second Cathy! I’d love to find more places in NoVa.

      Cathy – have you been to Treasure Hound in Chantilly? It’s staged more like a consignment store, but it’s a thrift store with great prices. At first it can seem a little country / old, but I’ve found some great stuff there by popping in often (not a lot of big furniture pieces though). The ReStore in Chantilly is nearby also and even though it can be hit or miss – when it’s a hit it’s a hit!

  3. Vanessa says

    Great post. Its always nice to hear of great places to try all over the country- just in case you are ever in the area!

  4. Megan CC says

    Man I wish I was closer to Richmond, or just lived in a cooler town! All these great stores and food options make me very jealous. My new town in Ohio (just moved here a few months ago) is soooo dull and the nearby options aren’t that good either. I guess one good thing about the lack of good food options is we just eat at home more often, which is saving us a ton of $$! I would love to visit Richmond for a weekend trip sometime!

    • Christy says

      Columbus area has great thrift and consignment stores! Good food options, too. Maybe a weekend trip for you? Google “Ohio Thrift Inc” for their store locations. Also, Grandview Mercantile in the Short North and some shops on W. 5th Ave. are worth a look. As for food, try Urbanspoon or Yelp for suggestions, depending on your tastes. City Barbeque, Skillet, Schmidt’s — all family affordable, plus many upscale ($$$$) places like The Refectory…oh, and try Jeni’s Ice Cream! Maybe this is not new info for you, but just in case…

    • Tracy says

      Ohio has a lot of great places to shop, eat and have fun. I am most familiar with NE Ohio and I have lived in other parts except for SE OH. The weather has been unusually cold and snowy for many parts so maybe your opinion will change once spring comes!

  5. Jillzy says

    I am from Richmond (now residing in NoVA) and all these new food places are popping up which makes me extremely jelly. I’m heading to Richmond this weekend to see family and will definitely take a detour to the places you mentioned. I LOVE

  6. Jillzy says

    I am from Richmond (now residing in NoVA) and all these new food places are popping up which makes me extremely jelly. I’m heading to Richmond this weekend to see family and will definitely take a detour to the places you mentioned and possibly snag some items from the thrift shops as well… even if the hubby likes it or not!

  7. Kathy C says

    I’m curious – why did you decide to leave NYC and why Richmond? Do you have family there?

    I’d love to pick up my fam and move south. It’s too cold in Ohio for me. Brrrrr

    • says

      John’s sister lives here and we came to visit her and really liked it. We knew we wanted to slow down from the NYC pace and get a house instead of a tiny studio, and the house prices in Richmond were compelling. The advertising presence here sealed the deal though (we were both in that field and there are a bunch of agencies here, so it seemed like a good fit).


  8. Dalynnk says

    Have you all tried Country Style Donuts off Williamsburg Rd? They are the best donuts I’ve ever had. I do love Sugar Shack and I’m super excited they opened a coffee shop downtown but CSD is by far the best. You get a dozen for around $8. Your only regret will be trying them because you’ll find yourself daydreaming about them once they’re gone.

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