I’ll confess: My idea of a good time usually involves running around campus in search of a place to finish a paper I was supposed to turn in a day ago when all the cubicles on B-level are inevitably full.
However, I can be convinced to leave campus for special occasions such as the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) Game Lab, the farmer’s market, or the Thursday night Jews in Greek Life (JiGL) parties we all love. While each of these events are always a blast, you can’t rely on them to motivate you to get off campus and explore Baltimore every weekend.
You might be wondering, then, what there is to do in Baltimore now that the farmer’s market is temporarily closed, and it’s too cold to wait an hour for a bus in the Inner Harbor since you and your friends are collectively too poor to afford the $11 Uber back to campus.
If you’re transportationally challenged, like I am, and can only guess at which bus stop is the right one (it’s usually not), or you would rather avoid those few painful minutes of silence that come with riding around in the back of a stranger’s car, there’s a place well within walking distance that we all know — and the school loves to tell prospective students that we love.
Hampden is no more than a 10-minute walk through Wyman Park, and the extra steps mean you don’t have to feel bad about yourself as you look at all the people in the cardio room and whisper, “I’ll go tomorrow.”
Of course, I love the Charmery as much as the next Hopkins student, but on your next trip to Hampden, go ahead and skip the sour-cream-and-chive-potato-chip-flavored ice cream. You probably only think it’s good because you’re expecting it to be nasty anyway.
Avoid the aesthetically pleasing organic shops, too: Supporting local business doesn’t mean you have to spend over $200 on a dress that looks exactly like your mom’s maternity wear. Instead, hit up one of the multitudes of vintage stores that line the streets.
Despite their cluttered appearance when you first walk in, if given enough time in any of the vintage stores, you’re bound to find something that makes it all worth it, even if it is just the huge dog that sleeps on the floor in front of the register in one of them — shout out to Whatnots Antiques.
You might spend a lot of time sorting through some really strange junk, but you also just might find the last piece you needed to complete your Halloween costume for this year. Or if you’re like me and you honestly do just dress like that, a vintage store is a veritable gold mine for new clothes that suit your style and aren’t ridiculously overpriced.
Hunting Ground on Falls Road is always a trip, both because of its quirky style and because it is literally further than most other places that Hopkins students go to in Hampden. This shop is inside of an old church and satisfies all of your shopping needs: vintage teenage boy high school athletic shirts, bodysuits, secondhand (and therefore legitimately distressed) jean jackets and scented candles.
Their items can run a little bit on the pricey side, but their tags are all handwritten and individually tacked on with tiny gold pins, so you know what you’re paying for.
Not technically thrifting but also worth checking out is Caravanserai. It’s a quirky little shop that’s sure to make you say, “Is this appropriation?” There are certainly things there that you can’t find elsewhere in Hampden, like Nepalese singing bowls.
More common but just as fun: They have a huge selection of rocks and beads. Run your hands over them while breathing in the heady scent of incense that always seems to hang around for a full sensory experience.
I’ve also heard they have a pretty good sale on small lamps right now.
Finally, no article on vintage shops in Hampden would be complete without a nod to Changed My Mind. It has all of the strange secondhand clothing of Hunting Ground, the unfamiliar knickknacks of Caravanserai and a ton of cool prints to offer as well.
Whether you’re looking for a Tweety Bird leather jacket, a handbag that looks like a chicken or a poster advertising “Gay Coney Island,” you’re sure to find something worth putting on your snapstory.
Whether you’ve got a bizarrely-themed date party coming up, you’ve got a “unique” sense of style or you’re a member of a weird a cappella group that literally drags you out of bed to make you find the ugliest Hawaiian shirt possible to wear for your concerts.
You’ll find something in a vintage store that you would never have found anywhere else, and you’ll do it every time you go back. They’re constantly finding or being given new old clothes that are coming back into style.
If you’re not into any of those things, bring some friends along and make a game of it: Challenge each other to find the weirdest thing in the store for less than $10 or have a white elephant party only using gifts that came from a thrift store.
If you’re here at the end of this article and the idea of thrifting is still sounding hideously unappealing to you, well, I’ve already got my cubicle on B-level. Guess I’ll see you there.