For last minute prom pieces or some new spring style, check out this list of Chicagoland’s best thrift and resale stores.
If you’re looking to stay close to Evanston, Ort Resale and Unique Thrift are my personal favorites. Ort is great for denim, skirts, and good quality jackets. Although it may seem modest from the outside, it has all the variety and the sales of a chain thrift store without the crowded aisles and the overstock. The people at the counter are always very kind. Unique is surprisingly well organized and full of room, making it less stressful than other stores. It’s particularly good for sweaters and graphic t shirts. They also have first hand costume pieces scattered among the resale, and every Mondays the entire store is half off, making it perfect for early dismissal days.
Know what you’re looking for: thrift, resale, and vintage all have different strengths and different price points. Thrift stores like Village Discount, Unique, or the Salvation Army are usually non for profit and build their stock on donations. They have the lowest prices but the highest volume of material to sift through, making them cheap but time consuming. But regardless of whether you’re shopping at a thrift store because you want to or because you have to, don’t forget to keep in mind that they are meant to be a resource for those who cannot shop elsewhere.
Stores like Crossroads and Buffalo Exchange are resale, where the store buys clothes off of other people and sells it to customers at a higher price. They have more curated and sometimes better quality pieces than thrift stores, but will primarily stock conventional brands and styles.
Vintage stores will often have fewer name brands and may specialize in specific categories, like evening wear or denim. They often have the highest prices, but their stock is full of quality, authentic pieces. Both resale stores and vintage stores cost more because they are aware of the value of their merchandise.
Here are some tips to get the most out of your thrift trip:
1. Have a plan. Although thrifting is great for discovering unique pieces, it’s good to go in with a list of priorities so you have somewhere to start. Printed mini skirts, cool jackets, and band tees are always at the top of my list.
2. Trust yourself. Give pieces that initially seem weird a chance, and pull anything that spikes your interest even if it doesn’t have hanger appeal. And if it looks like it could fit, it usually will.
3. Work with it. Wash everything. Especially with denim, you want to start clean and break it in your own way. Don’t be afraid to experiment in ways you wouldn’t have the courage to on a store bought piece; sometimes a few alterations will completely change it and turn it into something much more usable.
4. Give yourself time and be meticulous. Being in a hurry makes it less fun and less fruitful. Have the patience to sift through the piles to find what you actually want.
5.Don’t expect too much. Thrift stores don’t work like boutiques, the “stock” is constantly changing. And half of the find is the thrill of the hunt.