The state of thrift: where have all the good times gone?

Looking at my limited budget recently, I thought about places I used to shop.

The days of plentiful and dirt cheap thrift stores came flooding back to me. Dresses for $5! Was it a mirage? Were there actually good quality clothes available for so little? Was I just less selective? It's just been the past few years that the influx of H&M and F21/planned obsolescence started taking over thrift stores and resale businesses. (Or being refused entry due to condition.) Is it because I live in Brooklyn, NY? Is it like this everywhere?

Where have all the good times gone?

I had a few recent escapades to places I remembered as thrift meccas - huge spaces brimming with good outcasts for cheap (enough). A trip to the Queens Salvy and Goodwill yielded not too much, although I've used what I got already. Thankfully I like looking! But I do wonder how long I'll keep looking if it's increasingly harder to find nice things.

Swaps have yielded quite a bit for me over time but the ones I want to attend are just a few times a year.

So now I find myself digging around for new {goldmine} places, wondering if this is what it's going to continue looking like if I limit my shopping to NYC? I'm finding that most of my clothes come from Beacon's Closet or Buffalo Exchange -- no longer finding much stuff at Salvation Army and Goodwill.

Are resale businesses like Crossroads, Buffalo Exchange and Beacon's Closet going to replace thrift stores? I feel like they've already begun doing so in my life.

What's the state of the standard thrift store in your area?
Do you have a bunch of new resale places?


  1. Round here things haven't got worse (there was always lots of cheap high street stuff and scarce treasure) but it's definitely got more expensive. I just bought two vintage dresses for £10 and £13 from sally army, and I would not have paid that three years ago.

  2. Things are more expensive- all around I think. And, thrift stores are more savy. It's funny because the local American Cancer Society thrift down the street from me now has a 'designer ' rack. And even the Goodwills nearby seem to be pricing name brand items much higher.

    It's for Charity which is awesome- but kind of tough if your a consumer trying to save $.

    I kind of feel that thrift places are trying to emulate trade and resale places.

    Also it seems that many more people are trading and selling rather than donating.So a lot of good stuff may not be making it to the thrifts these days.

  3. Over my way, if you can find a small, smelly thrift shop in a bad suburb...then you are more likely to find the best price and good vintagey things. Then there are the really big popular thrift stores that have extortionately priced vintage and normal current items. AND THEN, there are the Vintage shops where you pay for your INVESTMENT piece. Which makes me grumpy enough to buy online from etsy in rebellion.

  4. That's just NYC, girl.
    Even the Beacon's + BuffX stuff is much higher priced than elsewhere.
    My (often designer) thrift finds in Dallas, Austin and Los Angeles are generally $1-$10.

  5. I went to a thrift place in suburban Atlanta and found nothing worthwhile. My time in thrift/charity shops in Chicago have been hit or miss (usually more misses than hits). I used to have good luck on Wednesday (1/2 off tag sales) at Salvo's in Bed-Stuy but haven't been there since summer. My recent run into Goodwill was worthless, but popping by Beacon's in PS was way more fruitful.
    I think in NYC there is just a huge resale market and folks may be going through the thrift racks before we hit them up, and reselling them to the private businesses. Plus, so many more people want to wear second hand here. I like the search, but I am not too bothered either way.

  6. The thrift stores in Minneapolis are still great, but they are getting more aware of what they have. I think now they just google brands when they come in and see what they are going for on eBay and if it's at all "designer" then they mark it up. Not all of them do this, but it seems like more and more of them are pricing their stuff higher, especially if it is good quality.

    There is a Buffalo Exchange here now that just opened this summer but I haven't gone yet. I like Everyday People, which is a local consignment (yay!) that always has awesome vintage and always buys stuff from me when I need to clean out the closets!

  7. In Toronto we have Goodwill & Value Village if you want to find cheap thrifted items. However they are ALWAYS picked over and you never really find anything good anymore. My friends and I have resorted to going to Goodwills/Value Villages in small towns & suburbs because well I guess the people that live there don't understand the gold mines they have. They usually have way more stuff to pick from and a lot of it is usually pretty awesome.

    There is also Kensington Market that when I was a teenager was the go to place for awesome thrifted items. And I guess it still really is the place to go. It really hasn't changed much in since the late 90's. There's a whole strip (Kensington St) full of vintage stores filled to the brim with pretty awesome pieces. The prices vary sometime it's cheap sometimes it's not. But you can always find a good score.

    If you are willing to spend lots of money you can find other high end thrift shops in many different neighbourhoods in Toronto that are jammed with awesome stuff. but like I said the stuff is usually pretty pricey. Most of these shop though do sell high end brands. However if you're willing to wait some of the items end up being market down eventually and then you can get them for a steal.

  8. We have a few decent thrift places in Cinci, but definitely a hit or miss sort of thing. Good resale shops are even harder to find and instead of unique items, they tend to be the basic dept store duds.

    You're inspiring me to keep looking for new places though...!

    Another good option is to get thrift items and rework (if you're handy w/ a scissors or sewing machine).

  9. Salvation Armies have 50% off days on Wednesdays, which helps if you're trying to save money.

  10. I've actually found that Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads have almost nothing to offer, and the closest Goodwill has slim pickings. But I live in a college town surrounded by a shady neighborhood.

    I still prefer estate sales, though. (And I literally LOL'd at your Daniel don't go down that hole comment.)

  11. My not so secret thrift store in NYC is Housing Works. I work just across the street so I can check daily. Their prices are definitely elevated... more like Beacon's Closet level, but I feel like the finds can be great and I know the money goes to a good place. Angel Street is OK, more hit or miss, but I did find a bunch of Built By Wendy shirts there for $8 recently!

  12. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for telling me what was up in your locales - the comments were really interesting to read and I think factoring in the upswing of swaps and resale - you guys are right - not as many people are donating to thrift stores any longer so the volume might be waning


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