Finding a good thrift store is like finding someone to date...that shit ain't easy. I'm always on the lookout for that perfect combination of killer merchandise, great prices, and "off the radar-ness" that make for the perfect thrift store centerfold of my dreams.
In fact, once you track down your fantasy date thrift store, you won't even want to tell anyone about it, cause STEP. OFF. SON. You don't need to be fightin' off the crowds when you're embarking on your 70's rattan patio furniture search, amirite?
But just cause I L.Y.L.A.S., I'm going to share all my top tricks for tracking down the best, most fabulous, killer thrift stores in YOUR neck of the woods.
In case you haven't gotten the memo yet, Yelp ain't just for restaurant reviews anymore. In fact, you can find reviews for anything these days, from your ear, nose and throat doctor to your bikini waxer. You should definitely take your ass straight over to Yelp.com (or download the app for iphone here) before you Jessica Fletcher this thrift store shiz up.
- Add your city/state to the location bar on top and start searching for things like "thrift store," "used furniture" or "consignment shop."
- Start readin' up! You can certainly pay attention to how many reviews places have, but don't let a place with fewer reviews deter you. It could be a newer or off the radar thrift store!
- Click on "photos" for each listing to see if you can find the sort of items you are looking for. For example, I like places that have a decent furniture selection, so I always try to see if I can find furniture pics.
- Use the "search review" bar right under the business info to search your key words within a particular listing. If a particular place has a bunch of reviews, I can type in "furniture" and anyone who's mentioned it their review will show up.
- Pay attention to the "People also viewed" listings on the right hand sidebar about half way down. This will give you a list of similar joints that other people who looked at your current business profile also looked at. I always find great spots by paying attention to those!
- Also, don't forget about "lists." Hardcore Yelpers often create lists of their fave spots all over town, and sometimes these lists can include killer thrift stores from fellow vintage obsessed yelpers. Yelp even has a forum you can check out.
- Finally: always try to keep ole faithfuls on your search list: Goodwill and Salvation Army. These spots are all over the country, and there might be a fab location near you. Also, there are likely other charity organization thrift shops, so keep an eye out for those (i.e. in Los Angeles we have Out of the closet, St. Vincent de Paul, etc).
Ok, so I don't necessarily find new spots on Foursquare that are not on Yelp, BUT, the reviews of places definitely have a different flavor here. People sometimes share a bit more detail and/or inside info, so I always like to Foursquare it up whenever I'm looking for some additional intel about a particular spot.
We can dive into how to find fab vintage stuff on Le Craig another time, but I did want to mention it here as it often is a spot that some of the smaller thrift shops will post on to get a bit more exposure for their items. The stores tend to be a bit more sophisticated than regular Craigslist posters, so oftentimes they'll include a ton of keywords. I often find them by searching for different eras/styles (mid-century modern, hollywood glam) or materials (brass, lucite). They'll typically list 1 particular item, but then at the bottom include an address for a physical shop.
The other sorts of gems I sometimes run across on Craigslist are sellers who don't necessarily have a physical storefront, but happen to have a lot of stuff to sell anyway. I've found a couple of these folks who I then keep in touch with via email or text. I'll let them know the sort of stuff I'm looking for and they'll touch base any type they have it. This sort of seller is probably harder to find in smaller town and cities, but if you're in any of the metropolitan areas, you've probably got a few lurking on Le Craig.
Do you follow any local design-y bloggers in your area? If so, (and it's a blogger who digs vintage finds) chances are they've blabbed about some of their favorite spots in your area. Go their site and find that little handy dandy search bar and type in "vintage" or "thrift store" and see what sort of goodies you can come up with.
Ok, I know this one sounds freaky, but I swear! It's a good one. Do you use hashtags on Instagram? If not, you should. I have found so many interesting people, places and things by using the hell out of the Insta "explore" tab. I usually start out by searching for my city/town. So I'm in Los Angeles (in Glendale) so I will search #losangeles or #glendale and see what comes up. Now this isn't going to net you strictly thrift store listings...in fact, depending where you are, you're likely to see a lot of crazy shit. BUT, I have definitely found stores and sellers via this method, in addition to some cool local events (like flea markets or estate sales). I even found my hairdresser via this method, after I saw this chick posting endless images of all the fab hair color work she was doing. Weird but true.
ALSO, on instagram, you can find sellers who sometimes just run their business off of the platform and sell cool shit. I found this seller in Los Angeles called SUNDAYMARQT that *just* lists their items for sale on Insta, and if you want to buy something, you either email them or comment on the photo. They deliver anywhere in LA for $10. Now true: it looks like most of their stuff basically comes from Goodwill all over town, but whatevs...some people dig the curation.
6. ETSY, EBAY, CHAIRISH, KRRB, AND 1STDIBS
Have you ever noticed that "shop local" sidebar item on the bottom left under "more ways to shop" on Etsy? If not, check it out. You can put in your zip code (or city/state) and find sellers in your local area. Now, they likely won't have actual storefronts too, BUT you can find fab stuff and often avoid paying crazy shipping fees by offering to come by and pick it up from their (hopefully) not at all scary abandoned back shed.
On ebay, it's even more annoying to find the local shit (READ: It's completely fucking buried). Here's how you find local items:
- Type in a search term in the search field on top. For example "vintage stool"
- A bunch of results will pop up.
- On lefthand sidebar alllllll the way under categories, there's a small little note that says "other refinements." Click that.
- A pop-up menu will then be visible where you can choose "item location."
- Choose the last option and fill in "within xx miles of" and then enter your zipcode.
- Drink the blood of one chicken and chant the following: "PAUL RUDD IS A SEX GOD."
- Ok kidding about that last one, but holy shit do they make it hard to find local sellers.
There are also some great other local sources of used furniture now such as Chairish (a fave of mine!), Krrb.com, which is like a way better curated version of Craigslist, and 1stdibs.com which is SRSLY AWESOME if you have a billion dollars to spend or just want to be inspired by gorge, killer, drool-worthy stuff.
LAST TIP: Ask! Duh! Put up a call for help on FB or Twitter and see if your friends have any recommendations for any spots to hit up. If you don't have any friends, then just go shopping. That always makes me feel better.