BEST THRIFT STORE - 2005
While not exactly unique, as there are two affiliated stores in the western suburbs, this Rice Street behemoth has the rest of the Twin Cities competition beat. Name a nondisposable item you need, Unique has it. (And even some perishables, like--why?--used lipstick.) For cheap, simple electronics, forget the pawnshop: Unique has numerous TVs--all plugged in so you can check out the picture--along with VCRs, phones, and much more. The housewares are extensive, and include perfectly nice small kitchen appliances. There's a huge clothing selection and a decent amount of furniture, along with the unexpected: Need a wood-burning stove, complete with owner's manual, for 70 bucks? But what always amazes us is the sheer variety of useful junk to be found on any given visit in the aisles that hold the odds and ends: owl-bedecked playing cards; cartoon-character lunchboxes; long-forgotten promotional toys; giant ashtrays with swirly, hippie-era patterns; silver, pig-shaped wind chimes. Now that's unique.