The 10 Best Bay Area Thrift Stores
Here in San Francisco, we're connoisseurs of thrift culture. We can neatly identify an article of clothing as thrift, vintage, upcycled, or used (and can admittedly get a little snotty if someone isn't keeping up with our lingo). Whether you're new to thrifting or a veteran, there's always more to discover here. Every neighborhood is peppered with its own array of stores, some with citywide reputations and some that are well-kept secrets. Below you'll find my highly partisan list of favorites. Most of them are in San Francisco but two require a little travel. Hopefully you'll be introduced to a few new spots.
Best of the East Bay
I've never quite understood why many San Franciscans don't get out of town more often. Sure, S.F. is amazing, and each neighborhood tends to have all of life's needs. But what about the things you want? My number one shopping priority is getting the most bang for my almost nonexistent buck, and things tend to be cheaper on the other side of the bay. Here are my two favorite East Bay thrift stores, in case you ever feel like braving the bridge.
2011 Runner Up: Mars Mercantile
Located in the heart of the Telegraph Avenue district of Berkeley, Mars comprises two stories of some of the most well-organized, cheap, and quirkily curated vintage in the Bay Area. Its racks are organized by style and color, with handy labels separating clothes by decade for quick (or theme-party related) browsing. Mars has a little bit of everything, including a hefty collection of accessories.
2011 Best of the East Bay: Pretty Penny
Pretty Penny itself is worth a trip to Oakland. Every single item it sells is in perfect condition: no stains, holes, or loose seams. (Once I pointed out that one of the dresses was cut slightly off-grain, and the staff promptly removed it from the rack rather than sell subpar merchandise.) Although Pretty Penny features a few local brands, its specialty is affordable vintage for men and women. It's no wonder the owner, Sarah Dunbar, worked at Mars before opening her own store. Pretty Penny is my secret that's almost too good to share. Actually, forget I brought it up. Never go to Oakland, okay? It's scary over there!