The Thrift Store (Children's Home Chambliss Thrift), 3723 Brainerd Rd., Chattanooga.
Points here for “Best Store Name.” Most similar stores specialize (intentionally or unintentionally) in one particular item or another, but this small shop exemplifies the department store mentality. It is far and away the best place to replenish your tableware. The baby section is a great place to abandon your kids while you spend hours in the dressing room convincing yourself that the sizes of this or that designer must run small. Their furniture encouragingly represents the spectrum of fortune with items available for both snoots and scrapers. The Thrift Shop enjoys an inexplicable wealth of new shoes that Imelda Marcos seems to have donated in 1986. The best find was a poster-sized pencil sketch of Angelina Jolie licking her lips that was sorely undervalued at $14.99.
Red Bank Thrift Store, 2102 Dayton Blvd. Red Bank.
This thrift store is appealing in a “dive bar” sort of way, meaning that it's kind of disgusting and that's how you know it's real. The building is horizontally long and segmented into erstwhile exhibits, such as Dishes of the ’70s, Videogames of the ’70s, and People in the ’70s Probably Knew What the Hell This Thing Is. Hipsters looking to double down on their wardrobes will find slim pickings here, as there is less of a focus on clothes and more of a focus on dirty tools. The highlight, however, is the basement torture room for appliances where parts are removed and rejoined in scary experiments. (Not to worry, they all come with a 30-day warranty; if your dryer goes on a murderous rampage down Hedgewood, you get an in-store credit.) The best find was a tub spa attachment covered in a questionable crust that suggests it probably came from the estate of someone who died perfecting a new and unholy use for it.
Northside Neighborhood House Thrift, 209 Minor Street, Chattanooga.
The recently remodeled NNH Thrift, as the kids call it, sports more of a boutique-like atmosphere. By virtue of its part-of-Cherokee-that-can-now-be-considered-West-Frazier location, NNH seems to feel more of a responsibility to be picky in what gets set out for perusal. This is a sound explanation for the dearth of inventory; the 900-square-foot building would threaten to feel cramped were it not for the wealth of negative space. Computers, coffeemakers, golf bags, desks, and dishes are lined up two by two (and no more) and your kids could dart into many of the clothes racks without setting any hangers a-swinging. (Honorable mention: the above comments do not apply to the collection of naked baby dolls with half-closed eyes, which is as large as it is disturbing.) Fortunately, gentrification has no effect on the tags despite the remarkably good condition of the wares; you can still buy their only toaster oven for $3, although a designer label will drive a clothing tag up very slightly. The best find was an ornate old clock with “Tempus fugit” (time flies) emblazoned thereupon—an apt prediction for when its clangy brass bell drives you to throw it through a window.