Merry Thriftness

My all-time favorite places to shop are those where I get a double-whammy of feelgoodery, for both saving money, and recycling: used clothing stores.

We have so many shops filled with gorgeous previously owned clothing in great condition, just waiting patiently for us to give them a second chance, I thought I’d help them. Hold tight, Anthropologie skirt I saw at Simply Chic - I’m coming for you! Here’s a breakdown of the places you need to be looking for your next stellar look:

If You Don’t Mind a Little Digging

Simply Chic (739 4th Street)

This shop is a Santa Rosa institution and is jam-packed with high-end and boutique-brand clothing, plus tons of cashmere, furs, and an eye boggling inventory of boots - cowboy and otherwise. Whenever I go to Simply Chic, I give myself a decent amount of time to peruse, because there’s a LOT of stuff, and always something new to discover. In addition to taking clothes locally, the owner, Rita, heads to LA on the reg and brings back some incredible inventory. Their unique, hot brands make me swoon, and their prices are more than fair.

Crossing the Jordan (501 4th St)

A newcomer to Santa Rosa, Crossing the Jordan carries more mainstream labels - think Forever 21, Old Navy, Target, with some Gap and Banana Republic thrown in, and the very occasional higher-end item. What they do have going for them is a children’s section (scored some jeans for my little, woo hoo!), a huge selection of formal dresses (think prom), and menswear. The whole family can shop, which is a big bonus. Another perk: they are a non-profit which assists those struggling to make a positive transition in their lives.

Plato’s Closet (1914 Mendocino Ave.)

Close to both Santa Rosa High School and Santa Rosa Junior College, Plato's Closet inventory caters to that younger, more ‘fashion-forward’ (whatever that means) crowd. I once tried to sell some clothes to them and they let me know with tact but in no uncertain terms that my items were “more mature” than what they carried. Which was fine, I proceeded to shop there anyway, because they have some dang cute stuff. Sure, I stumbled upon many an item which made me mutter “psh, this looks just like what I brought in here!” because have you seen me?! I am super hip, you guys!
Just kidding. I dress like your older uncle who goes through a midlife crisis and tries to look cool in jeans and t-shirts again. Hey - it doesn’t work on him, but it does on me, okay? Moving on.

If You Want Everything Laid Out All Nice For You

Paper Dolls (748 Montecito Ctr)

This adorable little shop in Santa Rosa’s Rincon Valley has a fun vintage vibe in their decor, and styles ranging from super high-end brands to party-ready ‘Ugly Christmas Sweaters’. Or, as my mom calls them: ‘sweaters’. They also have great sales. Can you guess who got some $5 Minnetonka moccasins to replace the slippers her brother’s dog recently ate? THIS GIRL!

Sisters Consignment Couture (2700 Yulupa Ave, Suite 6)

Out in Bennett Valley, those looking for those ‘more mature’ (ahem) clothes will find the perfect thing at Sisters Consignment Couture. Originally opened in Sonoma in 2007, this shop moved to Santa Rosa in 2016 and are quickly making themselves at home. They also carry some new items, like fun cozy socks, and some one-of-a-kind, upcycled items like large bags made from colorful rugs, and gorgeous Bohemian-style clothing made from bright silk scarves, by designer Indie Ella.

Gypsy Sisters (631 4th St, Suite E)

Back downtown and just down the block from Simply Chic is Gypsy Sisters, a much smaller shop which might be more up your alley if you prefer a quicker peruse - but not too quick, as clothing is arranged by color rather than size, which is aesthetically pleasing but takes a little more time to look at labels. This space is set up like a boutique, with sweet details and space to let the more special items shine.

If you’re looking for a more vintage look, don’t miss Hot Couture and Skirt Chaser, both in Railroad Square. Most of the stores mentioned will also either buy or consign your used clothes, but since every shop’s policies are different, you’ll want to ask before bringing in your items.

Did I miss your favorite used clothing spot? Share your shopping knowledge in the comments!

48 Hours With Bryce Dow-Williamson

If you live in Santa Rosa and haven’t had visitors yet, just wait; you will. We here at OutThereSR have taken it upon ourselves to collect some favorite activities of people who actually live here. We asked them what they would choose to do if given 48 hours in Santa Rosa. In our 48 Hours Series, we’re sharing what we found, so the next time your favorite uncle in Nebraska needs a getaway, you’ll be ready. Pro tip: this article is going to be full of links since it’s chock full of places to check out. Hover over the name of anything that sounds interesting and click away!

Just when we think we’ve seen it all in Santa Rosa, we sit down and talk with someone like Bryce Dow-Williamson. Bryce is the Marketing Director for Second Octave Entertainment and the solar-powered SOMO Concerts at SOMO Village. He also volunteers with Chimera Arts and Maker Space and The Arlene Francis Center for Spirit, Art and Politics in Santa Rosa. And yeah yeah, he’s doing wonderful things for Santa Rosa’s community and art scene and all that…but my favorite thing about Bryce is his open, friendly nature and the fact that he’s a downright cutie patootie. Just kidding; it’s the friendly nature thing. Okay cutie. Friendly. Cutie. Bah! Moving on.

As someone who regularly brings talent and entertainment to Sonoma County I thought Bryce would be a fun person to pal around with, so I asked him what spending 48 hours in his world might look like. No, I was not flirting…but yes, I was doing you all a favor, because check out all of the ideas he had for the perfect weekend! You are welcome:


Every time a friend visits me in Sonoma County I’m excited to play tour guide because it lets me experience our beautiful small-town city through fresh eyes. I like giving guests a full sensory overload of taste, nature and art.

I like to have an extra bicycle for guests. If they’re into it, Santa Rosa is a reasonably safe and accessible 1 gear ride from Fulton to Howarth Park and Annadel. We have so many great breakfast spots but I would take my friend to Criminal Bakery, where they have amazing rotating seasonal breakfast and lunch with local coffee from Melody, brewed in small batches. I’d have to take them to Juilliard Park to see Bud Snow’s mandala mural and the famous Church of One Tree.

48 hours in Santa Rosa Bryce Dow-Williamson

We’d bike down Sonoma Avenue down to Summerfield and access Annadel through Parktrail Drive so we can get right into the trees. I like to go up through the oaks, look over the entirety of Santa Rosa, and point out some landmarks, like the old Rosenburg’s Department Store. If we’re driving instead, I like to go around the back of Annadel to enter off Channel Drive. That puts you close to a number of ponds and views of the valley and fungi, if the season is right.

After all that exercise it would be necessary to recharge and just be still. If my friends are lucky enough to be in town on a Tuesday, then it’s possible to get beer and brats at 3rd Street Ale Works for $2.50 each and catch a $5 movie right next door at the 3rd Street Cinema.

48 hours in Santa Rosa Bryce Dow-Williamson

While we’re close, I’d stop by Treehorn Books to walk between their comforting walls of literature and see what new used books they have. You can always tell a lot about a person by where they first go in a bookstore (don’t tell anybody but I go to the comic book section). It’s the kind of place that would have a store cat. If we were in need of another meal I like to visit the Thai House on 4th, where they have a beautiful wooden carved room and I can satisfy my deep need for Tom Kha Gai. Such indulgence could only be bookended by one of the dangerously brilliant award-winning cupcakes at Sift before wandering home to a fire, good scotch and old stories.


On the second day of our Santa Rosa adventures I’d have to show off a breakfast featuring the great produce that we have readily available through The West End Farmer’s Market and Community Market, then pair it with damned good meat from Sonoma County Meat Company. To work off them greasy calories and get the blood going we’d bike off again to the Santa Rosa Memorial Park Cemetery and Crematory to have a lovely little stroll through the oaks, graves and mausoleums. During September they do Lamplight Tours, which are fund-raising events, present dramatic vignettes from the lives of the famous and not-so-famous people buried in the Rural Cemetery including Robert Ripley of Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

48 hours in Santa Rosa Bryce Dow-Williamson

Close by is another favorite Santa Rosa stop, Mombo’s Pizza, who have won the North Bay Bohemian’s Best of Award every year since 2002 and now have my favorite local beer, Death & Taxes from Moonlight Brewing, a dark lager that is as dependable as its name. Right across the street is a local treasure dear to my heart and anyone else who loves the highest highs and lowest lows (sonically speaking), The Last Record Store. Not only does this upstanding business have the catalogue and knowledge that any enthusiast would hope for, they also feature live music from legends and hometown heroes.

The Last Record Store

Apart from all the great nature, music, food, drink and indulgence our little Charlie Brown-ed town has to offer I’ve found some inspiring theatrical work by The Imaginists, who are always up to something that blows my mind and opens my heart, and 6th Street Playhouse, who present with precision everything from My Fair Lady to Rocky Horror Show and The Railroad Square Music Festival After Party. In the summer, theater enthusiasts can catch sunset and a show with Shakespeare in the Cannery, at the site of the former California Packing Company’s Plant No. 5 on 3rd Street, complete with solar-powered stage lighting and a set that incorporates the remaining cannery walls into its creative design.

48 hours in Santa Rosa Bryce Dow-Williamson

The last stop for our tour in the city of roses would be in our Historic Railroad Square. There’s a charming little English pub called the Toad in The Hole which has tasty cornish pasty’s, crisp ciders and my favorite aforementioned Death & Taxes. They host cozy little shows that feature intimate evenings with local treasures like John Courage, Ashley Allred and Girls + Boys.

toadCan we just stop for a moment to say…perfect weekend?! With the cool breezes of autumn blowing, and all of the great ideas we’ve gotten from our local experts, I for one cannot wait to get out there! As always, we’d love to hear what your favorite spots in Santa Rosa are in the comments!

Little Free Libraries

Thanks to Santa Rosa's ever-growing network of Little Free Libraries, that search for your next book is about to get way more fun. (and free)

Perhaps you’ve noticed them: small, often house-shaped boxes in front of someone’s home, usually with the words ‘Free’ and ‘Library’ painted on them. Some are painted to match the home they belong to, some are wildly bright and colorful. Inside all of them are books of all genres, all free for the taking.


Little Free Libraries are a worldwide book-based treasure hunt. By ‘treasure hunt’ I mean that books are the treasure, and while some of the ‘libraries’ are easy to find and are registered on the website with their actual addresses, others just have longitude and latitude clues, while others aren’t registered at all. These are the truly fun ones to find, and I’ve trained my eyes and those of my children to spot the abundant Little Free Libraries around Santa Rosa as we drive or bike around town.


I’ve created a map of the LFL’s in Santa Rosa which I’m aware of, or have been told about. Some are very specific in their location, but some just say they’re near an intersection, or somewhere on a street. Think of this as an opportunity to slow down, look up, and notice your surroundings in this otherwise fast-paced, busy and rushed world we live in. You’re welcome!

The spirit of these boxes of pure literary joy is to leave a book behind, or to take a book with you when you pass by, or both. Or neither, if you don’t have any reading material to share and nothing available catches your interest. Chances are if you visit again in a day or two the selection will have changed, so keep trying!


Do you know of a Little Free Library we should check out? Let us know in the comments. Maybe you'll find your next favorite book right in the neighborhood!


Chrysalis Fashion Show

It’s July, it’s hot, and Santa Rosa is bringing the sizzle this Sunday, July 31st with an incredible evening of fashion, music, food and feel-goodery.

The Chrysalis Fashion Benefit -- produced by Santa Rosa’s own Mary Jarvis and featuring designs by the one and only Michael Lee Brandon Powell -- is going to be one of those kinds of events that people in attendance will be talking about for many moon-cycles to come.


The inaugural event will begin with a fashion show featuring gender-fluid designs created by Powell using clothing and fabrics from local thrift stores, which have been repurposed and creatively designed as fashion to be worn and enjoyed by either sex. Focusing on self-expression, Powell’s designs have been thoughtfully developed to help remove the typical fixed-gender identity often found attached to clothing. Using rich candy colors partly inspired by the beloved candy store Powell’s Sweet Shoppe - owned by Michael’s family - the artist encourages all of us to break out of our rigid chrysalis and let our inner beauty emerge, all while taking in the wonder of his kaleidoscopic usage of colors, fabrics, and flash.

chrysalisThe one-of-a-kind items showcased will be worn by highly talented and runway-ready local models who have all pinky-swear promised* not to let the absolutely guaranteed instant fame go to their heads.

After the fashion show everyone is invited outside, where hundreds of majestic fluttery butterflies will be released by Powell into the evening sky, symbolizing newfound freedom and inner beauty. At least, that’s what I think of when seeing a sky full of butterflies. A portion of the evening’s proceeds will be donated to the Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund, founded in 2015 to restore the butterfly to a robust and healthy population by increasing habitat, ensuring these important and valuable insects are able to continue with their lovely and essential work.

This dramatic release of our winged friends will be followed by a dinner prepared and served by Worth Our Weight, Santa Rosa’s culinary apprenticeship program founded by director Evelyn Cheatham. WOW accepts and nurtures young people from ages 16-24 who have faced major challenges in their lives, and provides them with tuition-free training in culinary and food service skills. WOW, a Santa Rosa favorite, has a restaurant (1021 Hahman Dr) where students practice their real-world training, and has been chosen by Powell as the other beneficiary of the Fashion Show’s proceeds.

chrysalis2While enjoying dinner, you’ll have an opportunity via silent auction to purchase any of Michael’s unique creations featured in the fashion show. The evening wraps up by just getting started again! DJea Edrum will be laying down the jams for an epic after-party, so come prepared to dance and move and be whoever you want to be. This night is all about you doing you!

On that note, all are encouraged to attend wearing their finest, however that is defined for you. Hot pink tutu? Great! Tasteful bowtie? Wonderful! Velvet chartreuse three-piece suit with bedazzled wings attached? Amazing! Simple, smart skirt with librarian button-down? Perfection. We can’t wait to see you in all of your gorgeous glory!

The Details:

Sunday, July 31st, 5pm at The Arlene Francis Center, 99 W. 6th Street, Santa Rosa

Tickets, which include Fashion Show, Butterfly Release, Dinner, Crazy Awesome Dance Party AND help to benefit Worth Our Weight and The Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund: $30

For tickets and information, click HERE


*pinky-swear promises were made only in my imagination and are therefore not guaranteed.