Whether you’re moving to Chicago on a budget, looking for one-of-kind fashion pieces, in the resale game, or just love finding hidden gems – Chicago has a multitude of thrift stores perfect for your needs. Here are some of my favorites.
*Remember to check website for current hours. Some businesses have limited hours right now*
Best Value (aka cheap AF)
1. Village Discount Outlet (multiple locations)
When I moved to Humboldt Park and started working at Cheesecake Factory downtown in 2016, I bought all my white dress shirts and ties at Village Discount for super cheap.
When I signed a year lease in Andersonville in 2018 and owned only a backpack of clothing, I bought about 90% of my apartment needs at Village Discount (plates, cups, pots, pans, decorations, etc.). This is my formal love letter to Village Discount.
Village Discount is like Walmart, they have everything you’ll ever need. It’s big, a bit chaotic, but I love it.
There are 9 locations in Chicago, my 2 favorites are:
Andersonville – 4898 N. Clark St.
Logan Square – 2032 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Pro tip: there are deals every day of the week. On Sundays, college students get 20% (if you have a *current or old* student ID, use it!). Check their website for the most updated sales. Pay attention to the colored tags (certain colors= discounts)!
Pro tip for life in general: never throw away your college ID.
2. Salvation Army (multiple locations)
The Salvation Army downtown store has 3-floors of hidden gems. You can find name brands, furniture, jewelry, purses, and just about anything. Note: you have to dig. I recommend coming with a designated list and setting a time limit on your visit.
Pro tip: 75% off after 6pm on Fridays and 69 cent Saturday mornings (whatever the color of the week is). Free two-hour parking. *sales may be different during COVID, call ahead to verify.*
There are multiple locations, my favorite is:
Downtown Chicago (Fulton River District) – 509 N Union Ave.
Best Cause (A+ at supporting their local community)
3. Family Tree Resale (Lincoln Square)
Family Tree Resale is a new find for me! Not only do they have a unique selection and great prices, but they also do a lot of great things for the community. For example, they have a voucher program that supports Chicago families in need. To date, they’ve given back $175,000 since opening in 2009! They are the only thrift store that works directly with the Chicago public school system. For more info or to support, click here.
Family Tree is home to a large collection of Indian fabrics, scarves, saris, and clothing at affordable rates. Also because of the current state of the world, they are currently offering FREE private appointments during the week to come shop without crowds.
Location: 5066 N Lincoln Ave
4. The Brown Elephant (multiple locations)
All proceeds of The Brown Elephant benefit LGBTQ+ health and fund for the uninsured and under-insured at Howard Brown Health. Howard Brown Health is one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ organizations and serves over 18,000 Chicagoans each year.
Aside from all that awesome-ness, I love The Brown Elephant for unique household items and furniture pieces.
There are 2 Chicago locations:
Andersonville – 5404 N Clark St.
Lakeview – 3020 N Lincoln Ave.
Most Unique Finds
5. Green Element Resale (Edgewater)
The Green Element Resale is LOADED with randomness (lol). I bought my luggage for South Korea here, books, a winter jacket, a cute mug and more. This place gets an A+ in unique (maybe a bit weird), but I enjoy rummaging around and finding hidden treasures here.
Location: 6241 N Broadway
My Go-To Thrift Stores (personal favs)
6. Crossroads Trading (multiple locations)
Crossroads Trading is my personal favorite thrift store in Chicago. I’ve bought most of my thrifted clothing at Crossroads. You can find cheap name brand, gently used clothing and shoes. I’ve bought a Patagonia jacket, Vans slip-ons, brand-new Nike running shoes, Lululemon yoga pants, and more! Their clothing is contemporary, trendy, and affordable.
There are 3 Chicago Locations:
Andersonville – 5127 N Clark St
Lincoln Park (personal fav) – 2711 N Clark St
Wicker Park -1519 N Milwaukee Ave
7. Buffalo Exchange (multiple locations)
Buffalo Exchange is a privately owned, family-run resale shop with 50 stores across the US. They are my second favorite for second-hand clothing in the city. Buffalo Exchange is very similar to Crossroads and has trendy designer and vintage clothing pieces. (Crossroads tends to be a bit cheaper and largest selection.)
You can also sell or trade your clothing/shoes (50% in trade or 30% in cash).
There are 2 Chicago locations:
Andersonville – 5252 N. Clark Street
Wicker Park – 1478 N. Milwaukee Ave
BONUS: A Few Thrifting Tips
- Make a list of key items you are looking for. Come prepared (or you might spend hours wandering aimlessly).
- Bring your own bag.
- Go on Tuesdays or Wednesdays for new merchandise. (Also, ask each store when they restock with new items.)
- Wear an outfit that’s easy to try things on in. Some thrift stores (especially during COVID) do not have dressing rooms. I usually wear a tank top (or sports bra) and leggings so that I can try on jeans, shirts, jackets, etc on top of my clothes.
- Upon arrival, check discounts. Most stores use a colored tag system. Check which colors have discounts!
- Don’t be afraid to haggle if the item is broken or torn!
What’re your favorite thrift stores in Chicago? What treasures have you found while thrifting? *comment below*
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