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Secondhand News: A local guide to thrifting and repurposing in uncertain times

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Posted on: April 1, 2020

By Lauren Flynn Kelly

As we self-isolate and flatten the curve of the new coronavirus, supporting our neighbors and keeping our small businesses afloat are two critical ways to maintain Hyattsville’s strong sense of community. Luckily there are many ways to accomplish this without straying far from home. Highlighting eco-conscious practices that are in the spirit of this column, I give you a local guide to secondhand shopping, donating and repurposing in uncertain times. 

Shop local. Many of our small nonessential businesses have come up with creative ways to continue serving customers while keeping their doors closed; these include some secondhand stores previously mentioned in this column. Red Onion Records, which I featured in my February column, is regularly pricing records and posting new listings to the @redonionrecords Instagram account, taking orders for local delivery, shipping items and selling e-gift cards. View the online catalog at

My Dead Aunt’s Books also has many items online and will be running a 50% off sale in April. View the collection by searching Robert Harper Books at Suffragette City, which shares the retail space in the SoHy Arts Building on Baltimore Avenue, is also selling online at And judging from her @suffragettecityvtg Instagram, owner Holli Mintzer has been busy making lots of repurposed jewelry for the virtual shop.

Donate local. As an essential provider of low-cost home repair materials, Community Forklift remains open to the public but with limited hours that may change on a week-to-week basis. They have suspended donation pickups but are still taking donations at the warehouse. Be sure to arrive 30 minutes before closing. “Requests for free appliances and home repair supplies have not slowed and these materials are essential to helping low-income families self-isolate in safety,” according to a press release from the nonprofit organization located in nearby Edmonston. Visit for updated store hours and details on how to donate or shop its online store at

Hyattsville resident Jamila Larson, executive director of the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project, has been collecting items to occupy the many homeless children sheltering in place in Washington, D.C. Residents can donate activity and sketch books, graphic novels and books for children and preteens, as long as the items are new or clean and gently used. Please email her at ja****@pl*************.org, or consider making a monetary contribution. As of press time, the nonprofit organization had secured two matching grant offers, including one from Rachel Renée Russell and Nikki Russell, author and illustrator, respectively, of the popular Dork Diaries series!

Taking care to sanitize your hands and disinfect packaging, please consider picking up a few extra nonperishable goods next time you do a grocery run and placing them in the Blessing Box between Hyattsville Elementary School and St. Jerome Church on 43rd Avenue. (Keep in mind that research shows the coronavirus can stay on cardboard for up to 24 hours and on plastic and stainless steel for up to two or three days.)

Meanwhile, the Facebook group Hyattsville Barter & Trade has temporarily shut down in order to discourage people from trading toys and other frequently used items, and GreenDrop has suspended clothing donation operations. So just take your time spring cleaning and set aside items for when it’s safer to share. 

This time of social distancing also means the cancellation of several popular swapping and resale events. The biannual sale hosted by the University Park Children’s Clothing Co-operative, originally scheduled for April 4, is postponed indefinitely. Community Forklift has canceled its annual garden party, and the Spring HY-Swap is off. But as you continue your spring cleaning, consider setting aside some colder weather items (and gently used Halloween costumes) for the Fall HY-Swap that will take place on Oct. 24 at the Hyattsville Municipal Building. 

Make local. Three Little Birds Sewing Co. is hosting virtual “sewcials” and classes, and offering a free online tutorial for sewing cotton face masks to donate to health care professionals. Local makers have already donated hundreds of sewn masks, but the shop has received requests for thousands more. For more information, visit, where you can also shop for tons of new fabric and embroidery kits and have your order shipped.

Keep on making: Three Little Birds Sewing Co. is taking online orders, hosting virtual ‘sew-cials’ and classes and collecting handmade protective masks for health care workers.
Photo credit: Lauren Flynn Kelly

Tanglewood Works can also meet your DIY needs through online sales and tutorials. And Will’s Decorating, soon to move to Hyattsville, is still taking curbside pickup and delivery orders from its Beltsville location. 

During this difficult time, please do what you can to support these and other local businesses. Even if you have no interest in placing an online order, you can always purchase a gift card for a friend!



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