Where To Shop For Vintage
Shopping for vintage is great fun. You can go solo and enjoy the thrill of the hunt at your own pace or take a group of friends and enjoy an all-day shopping party! There have always been antique collectors, even in past centuries. But wearing or even collecting vintage clothing and accessories as fashion is a recent thing, probably beginning in the late 60s of the hippie era. They were rebelling against ‘the man’ and corporate control.
Flash forward 60+ years and there are still plenty of reasons to hunt for and use pre-owned things. I can think of a few- preserving history, saving money, saving useful things from the landfill or destruction. But using vintage also adds a certain unique ‘vibe’ to your wardrobe or home. Modern fashion is, more than ever before, fleeting. What’s fashionable today can be out of style next week or next month. Adding fashionable and useful items you love from earlier eras to your wardrobe and home allows you to create your own personal style.
But where do you find these gems? I’m glad you asked! Here’s a smattering of ideas where to start—
Vintage clothing boutiques- curated vintage fashion shopping at its easiest. Usually vetted for cleanliness, wearability (zipper works, buttons present,
Retail thrift stores- that's where you'll find the good the bad and the ugly. Depending on where you go you’ll find the GOOD- vintage treasures (often sold in so-called ‘boutique’ areas for inflated prices which I personally balk at), or well made useful clothing and home goods. the BAD- aisle upon aisle of fast-fashion rejects that haven't held up well. These thrift stores are where yesterdays fashionable darlings go to die, which presumably isn’t why you’re shopping. And the ugly? My personal favorite- shopping raw, unfiltered thrift venues can yield unspeakable yuck and sublime treasures. See my ‘safe shopping’ page for tips to cope.
Garage sales- one person’s trash is another’s treasure. There’s awesome stuff out there but you gotta wade thru miles of driving and sorting thru stained baby clothes, dollar store grot and broken appliances to find ‘em. Here in the Pacific Northwest there’s a definite season for these- Spring, Summer and the beginning of Fall if it’s dry enough. Find these thru Craigslist listings, your local newspaper (if it exists anymore) or signs on street corners.
Flea markets- a loose collection of vendors- professional or not, with stuff to sell. I don’t usually attend these… no idea why. You’ll find antiques, vintage, ordinary household stuff and cheap Chinese crap.
Antique stores or antique malls- I like browsing these because the majority of the stuff isn’t junk. It may not be anything I’m interested in but I’m okay with that. My only complaint is the universal choice of music seems to be oldies or 50s/60s rock… I wear headphones and listen to my choice of music!
Family, friends & neighbors- you NEVER know what is lurking forgotten in someones basement, attic or closet. TOS (or as I call it- That Old S%&t) will often be gladly shared if the person knows you’re interested. Be sure to humbly say Thank You and pay it forward to someone else if you get the chance :-)
Independently owned vintage websites- my personal favorite because that’s what this site is- a micro-small business. Customer service is a priority without interference from over-zealous management by the venue. Owned by one or more sellers with a passion for their products.
Online- Etsy, eBay or one of the many online buy/sell venues. I’m a buyer and seller on both and have sold on others. I have mixed feelings about them. Don’t be afraid to contact the seller prior to your purchase for measurements, condition, color and other questions. A good seller should answer you within minutes, hours or even a few days. I’m usually available to answer questions but have to admit I’ve missed a few questions for various reasons.
Facebook groups- private groups you need to qualify for or large groups that are open for anyone to join. I can’t really say much about buying or selling on FB because I haven’t tried it yet. Not because I’m resistant to change but because I haven’t wanted to take the time to learn how yet another selling venue works. Same for selling on Instagram- I’m already spread too thin in real life to wear yet another hat. If I try either I’ll post it here. You may already be buying or selling there- let me know in comments below how it’s going for you.