As students of The University of “The Best City Ever”, we’re surrounded by some of the most expensive stores in the country, but we’re also living in one of the best cities for thrift shopping. All it takes to be a successful thrift shopper is an attention to detail, plenty of energy to look through seemingly countless racks, and knowing where the best stores are.
1543 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
Held Over is an offshoot of Retro City Fashions, which owns numerous thrift stores in the Bay Area. The store focuses mostly on selling outerwear, from classic Levi’s jean jackets to fringed suede jackets. Held Over is the most expensive thrift store on this list, with most things selling for around $30-40, but the store’s pieces are unique and are meant to last. The store is home to one-of-a-kind accessories such as quirky vintage bowties and hats, but what really makes this store one of the best in San Francisco is its layout. The dresses are organized by decade and further divided into styles. For example, the ‘70s rack is subdivided into “Disco,” “Hippie Chic,” and “‘60s/‘70s Psychedelic.” This unique layout makes finding what you’re really looking for easy and fun.
2101 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Out of all the thrift shops in The Mission District, Thrift Town stands out largely due to its size–not to mention the odd plastic parrot that hangs from the store’s ceiling serving as Thrift Town’s unofficial mascot. It is more comparable to a thrift depot as opposed to a mere hand-me-down outlet. Separated into two expansive floors, it is easy to get lost amidst the treasure cove of clothes, accessories, and antiques. The store often promotes sale days, making their already affordable prices more appealing, especially for the average student.
2279 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
There are a myriad of Goodwills in San Francisco, but I would choose this one over the Goodwill on Haight solely because of its collection of books which features everything from literary classics to The Twilight Saga. Their home goods collection is also extensive; I love finding little figurines, jewelry boxes, and vases in this store. This Goodwill seems small at first but has two floors and houses a decent collection of clothing, especially ‘90s throwbacks like high-waisted mom jeans, flannels, and thick sweaters.
1660 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
Wasteland is another popular thrift store on Haight St. This store sells clothes for both men and women from a variety of famous brands. I found a great UNIF jacket at Wasteland for only $20, a fraction of the original cost. The trick to successfully shopping at Wasteland is to look through all of their color-coded racks in order to find pieces you truly love. This store also has the best shoe collection out of all of the thrift shops I often visit, with products that appear to be practically new. Their frequently updated collection features brands like Dr. Martens and Jeffrey Campbell. The best part of Wasteland is that you can also sell clothing at the store. If you bring your gently worn clothing to Wasteland the store might buy some pieces in exchange for store credit.
2330 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
Mission Thrift is another affordable thrift store in the Mission. The store may seem overwhelming at first, due to the huge amount of clothes in the small space, but it’s worth the effort. The store features lots of colorful dresses, button-downs in every pattern, and unique accessories. Mission Thrift is one of the best thrift stores in San Francisco because of its kitschy collection of sweaters and t-shirts. Looking for an ugly Christmas sweater, costume, or funny shirt? You’ll find it at Mission Thrift.
473 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
Clothes Contact is hands down the cheapest thrift store on this list. This store sells certain pieces by the pound, and most of the clothing is around $10. Clothes Contact sells mostly bohemian clothing; think floral and tribal print maxi-dresses, over-sized wide brim hats, and flared jeans. For the best experience at Clothes Contact look carefully at the pieces you like, because some items have small flaws, although they can usually be fixed with some easy sewing or a wash.
Picture Credit: Kristian George/FOGHORN