Founded in 2009, Piviniit is first and only secondhand shop in town. The Iqaluit thrift store is also the best place in town to shop in person for household items, clothing, and Nunavut memorabilia (really). Being the only thrift store in town has one major perk: Piviniit receives a lot of donations, and the floor stock is constantly changing. Most importantly, unlike many southern "thrift" stores that sell used clothes and goods for the same price as new ones (or higher if they're coveted vintage/retro finds), Piviniit prices everything to sell. There are set prices for all items, regardless of name brand or make. This means that a T-shirt at Piviniit will cost you $1, whether the label reads Hanes or Hermès.
Iqaluit's little shop of treasures.
So is it worth it? As one of Piviniit's many regulars, I would say yes. First of all, Piviniit is a non-profit organization, run by a board of directors and staffed entirely by a group of dedicated volunteers. Because it's not for profit, all of the shop's surplus earnings are donated to local charities or groups. And, any items that remain unsold after a period of time are packed up and sent to Baffin's other communities with RCMP officers on duty travel.
Sandi Chan, author of "10 Ways Iqaluit is Like a Campus", sorting and pricing donated items.
In addition to the feel-good nature of the Piviniit shopping experience, volunteers are constantly bringing new goods out from the back, and savvy shoppers will stop in at least once a week to see what's available. And the stock they receive and put out is great; I regularly find high-end and nearly new items on the store shelves. Listed below are some of the deals you can expect to find in store, accompanied by photos from my last visit.
One thing I have learned from shopping at Piviniit is that Iqaluit has its fair share of literary connoisseurs. The books I have purchased include The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, a hardcover copy of The Iliad by Homer, The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, and a gorgeous, illustrated, 1946-edition of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, all for $1 each. The shelves are also full of non-fiction books, including cookbooks and travel guides. I bought Baffin Island: Climbing Trekking & Skiing for $1; it retails for $29.95 at Arctic Ventures.
Mitts, coats, hats, scarves, and other winter accessories are plentiful at Piviniit. I purchased a pair of men's snowpants for $7 and have seen gently used parkas sell for $40-50. During yesterday's hunt, my friend Erika found a 100% merino wool T-shirt from Icebreaker, pictured below, for only $1 (retail: $74.99). Piviniit also stocks the store seasonally, which is useful, and also makes it the best place to look for costumes around Halloween.
Unless you go online or to Sell/Swap, there is no other way to purchase stylish clothing in Iqaluit. In addition to Erika, I have two other really well-dressed friends (Sylvia and Zoe, the thrift store's biggest fans) who clothe themselves almost entirely from Piviniit store finds. And there is no way you can beat the prices. Back in the fall, I scored a steal of a deal on a Comme des Garçons button down shirt, which would have retailed for over $500, for a measly $4. After culling the store's racks yesterday with Erika and our other friend Danica, all three of us came away with an enviable selection of tights, dresses, blouses, and sweaters. Oh, but don't worry girls, we left some goodies behind, including this awesome denim shirt with floral-pattern accents ($2).
Home and Kitchen
My pantry and kitchen is full of thrifted wares: mason jars, can opener, wine glasses, cookie sheets, and baking trays, all purchased for $1 each or less. Erika's pride and joy is her Fronana machine, a contraption that churns frozen bananas into an ice cream-like treat. She paid $5 for this delectable device, but similar frozen-banana-transformers can cost as much as $50. On hand this week was this set of cheeky potholders.
If there's one thing you can always expect to find at Iqaluit's thrift store, it's baby clothes. Almost-new and often priced for less than $1 a piece, Piviniit may be the best place to gather baby supplies in town. There are also several bins and shelves full of stuffed toys, dolls, and children's books.
Souvenirs and Nunavut Swag
If you want to get your friends and family members (or yourself) some sweet Arctic souvenirs, you can count on the thrift store to have a few gems in its midst. Baseball cap from the NEAS Sealift? Sure. Official Toonik Tyme sweatshirt? You bet. Mugs emblazoned with Inuktitut characters and imagery? Check and check. Rummaging through Piviniit's Nunavut-themed items is also a lesson in history. Take note of the Coca-Cola branded hat below; it reads "Bottled in Iqaluit", harkening back to the days when the territory's capital had its very own Coke-bottling plant (it was shut down in 2009).
I'm not sure how to categorize some of the weird and wonderful wares I have come across at Piviniit. I kind of wish some of the pieces came with contact information, because I really want to be friends with their previous owners.
Okay, so flippers aren't *that* weird. It's just jarring to see them sitting so casually next to winter boots.
SILVER LAMÉ BODYSUIT.
Heartbreak of the week: This rainbow unicorn costume is several sizes too small for me.
Are you a Piviniit regular? Have you had some lucky finds? Let us know in the comments or send us a tweet!
The Piviniit Thrift Store is located in Building 651. Store hours are Thursdays and Fridays from 18:00-20:30 and Saturdays from 10:00-16:30. To volunteer or make a donation, please visit Piviniit or call 867-979-2120.