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Try 5: A Chicago Thrift Store Roundup

Chicago is full of great thrift stores. If you’re trying to save a little bread, these places will hook you up without emptying you out.

By F+

We’ve all got goals: relationship goals, fitness goals, finance goals. Okay, maybe not so much the first two (who needs love when you have donuts?), but actually trying to be not dumb with your money is a laudable goal that we at F Newsmagazine want to help you achieve.

To that end: Before you head to your local chain apparel store in search of a new sweater your cat will end up destroying anyway, we suggest widening your consumer horizons and checking out five top local secondhand shops, carefully curated by F News. You can be better with your money with a little thrift store sleuthiness. Say that five times fast.

(Price guide: $ = dirt cheap, $$ = pretty damn cheap, $$$ = not all that cheap)


Outside of Village Discount Outlet. February 3, 2017.(Photography by Yshao Lin.)

1. Village Discount Outlet
Multiple Locations around the Chicagoland area
FNews Fave Location: 2032 North Milwaukee Avenue

The Village Discount (VD) is a no-fail favorite. Conveniently located between the Western and California Blue Line, this long-standing thrift shop is straight-up huge. I recommend pulling out a cart as soon as you walk in: You’re sure to shop a long time and fill ‘er up. The VD often gifts shoppers all year long with weekend holiday sales (e.g., 50 percent off everything), so if you’re lucky enough to stop in during one of their blowout discounts, take a risk! Get those fluffy scrunchies or that kite-making kit you think your roommate definitely needs. And while you’re at it, get yourself that purple scarf your friends find vomitty but you find charming. Yolo.

Price: $
Best for: Apparel, handbags and shoes

Exterior of The Brown Elephant. February 12, 2017. (Photography by Yshao Lin.)

2. The Brown Elephant Resale Shop
Locations also in Andersonville and Lakeview
Fnews Fave Location: Oak Park Brown Elephant, 217 Harrison Street. Oak Park, IL

For a smaller selection that still packs a punch, we recommend stepping inside one or all of the Brown Elephant resale shops located respectively in Andersonville, Lakeview, and Oak Park. Not only has the Brown Elephant been voted as the number one resale shop in the Chicago Reader’s “Best of Chicago” every year since 2010, the proceeds also directly support the mission of the Howard Brown Health Center by raising money for families and individuals of the LGBTQ community who cannot afford healthcare — which makes shopping at the Brown Elephant a win-win situation. The shops feature a diverse selection of funky objects and apparel; you’re sure to be inspired and find material for your DIY project to sell on your Etsy shop or present for a final critique. (Or both. We’re not judging you.)

Pricing: $$
Best for: Furniture, unique dinnerware, and books

Vinyl record section at a Chicago GoodWill. February 9, 2017. (Photography by Yshao Lin.)

3. Goodwill Stores
Multiple locations Nationwide
F News Fave Location: 1201 W Washington Blvd, Chicago, IL 60607

The Goodwill is a household staple of a thrift shop whose name literally translates to “well-intentioned.” This title is further affirmed by the thoughtful, color-coded organization of apparel in stores, and the various Goodwill locations nationwide. Don’t forget to stop by the home and furniture section where you’re sure to find some unique items like this earnest selection of trophies for the champ in your life.

Price: $
Best for: Knick-knacks and readymades


4. Encore Resale Clothing Shop
1553 E Hyde Park Blvd, Chicago, IL 60615

Okay, so maybe you actually want to treat yourself with a selection of name brand options. (Let’s be real, who doesn’t love a J. Crew turtleneck?) Encore Resale Clothing in Hyde Park is the perfect one-stop shop if you’re looking to find gently used items by all of your favorite retailers and designers. Though Encore’s space may be small, the selection is expansive, which is especially satisfying when you score a vintage Dooney & Bourke satchel for just eight bucks.

Price: $
Best for: The J. Crew turtleneck we can’t promise the shop will have.

Buffalo Exchange in Chicago. February, 2017. (Photography by Yshao Lin.)

5. Buffalo Exchange
Multiple locations nationwide
1478 N. Milwaukee Avenue. Chicago, IL

You probably saw this coming. Chances are, you’ve probably been here a handful of times with clothes you were looking to sell but didn’t make the cut. (C’mon, now, you should have known the pit stains would be a deal breaker.) Don’t let your trials and tribulations with selling deter you from checking out the cool selection this shop has to offer with numerous locations across town. The prices can at times run a little steep for secondhand clothing, but where else will you find a curated selection of ugly Christmas sweaters to match with your BFF in February?

Price point: $$
Best for: Accessories and slim chance of actually making money by selling your things! Cha-ching.


There you have it, folks. Our final recommendation in actually saving money for thrifting would be to maintain a strict budget before going in and shopping with a friend! Self-discipline and thrift shopping don’t always go hand in hand, and maybe you should put that purple scarf away. Your friends and your wallet will thank you.

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