Finance Magazine

Portland Thrift Shops: The 5 Most “Worth It”

By Kathleen O'Malley @frugalportland

Portland’s Five Most Worth it Thrift Shops

Vintage, resale, thrift, antique; whatever you want to call it, let’s be honest, Portland loves second-hand stores. Quantity is not the issue in this town; It’s quality. In a town oversaturated with quirky and vintage, overpriced thrift shops lurk around every corner, and you might need a little help navigating this shopping niche without overspending on a $200 “retro” chair. Have no fear! In descending order of price, here are the five most “worth it” of Portland thrift shops.

1. Buffalo Exchange $$$$$

Buffalo Exchange is definitely not a “thrift” store, and it is not always the cheapest. But, consistently more than any other resale shop, Buffalo Exchange has the most “I’d wear that” clothes and shoes. They stock their buy back counter with young trendy hipster girls and boys who only buy up the most desirable clothing. This is great for the fashionable, but not always awesome for savings. Don’t get me wrong, everything here is still cheaper than if you bought it new and occasionally they overlook hidden treasures. My favorite Buffalo outing involves selling a small pile of old clothes I don’t want, taking the in-store credit and walking out with a whole new outfit: it’s ethical clothing recycling at its finest.

Best for: Daily wear

2. House of Vintage $$$$

In a town where weird is the usual and vintage stores are too cool, House of Vintage is more of an experience than anything else. House of Vintage (or HOV as I like to call it) is an excellent place to pick up great vintage swag and the occasional taxidermied rodent. This place consists of multiple vendors renting space and selling their cache of goodies for varying degrees of price. Some people up-price and some don’t, you just have to take your time in HOV. The key is frequent trips to scoop up the newest and coolest items. Careful, this place is huge and mildly overwhelming.

Best for: Costumes, cheap VHS, vintage t-shirts, overalls

3. Goodwill $$$

Somehow even Goodwills are overpriced in Portland. It’s weird. The trick is finding the right Goodwill. In my opinion, the best goodwill in Portland is this one, located in inner Southeast Portland. It is a goodwill supercenter, and it’s huge. It has an enormous selection of books for basically pennies and tons of clothes and shoes for cheap!

Best for: Cheap Books, appliances, shoes

4. Red White and Blue Thrift Store $$

This one is the farthest from inner Portland, but Red White and Blue Thrift Store is a secret treasure of the thriftiest sort. Out of the way and cash only–this place doesn’t top the convenience charts, but it keeps the crowds and price drivers away. This place is much more what I think of when I think of thrift shopping. The prices are low, and they have an awesome selection of hiking gear, retro basketball jerseys, hats, etc. If you’re looking for a true bargain on just about anything, this place is for you!

Best for: Retro sports apparel, hiking gear, collectibles

5. The Bins $

This store is actually a Goodwill store but is a notorious Portland thrift landmark often referred to as simply “Tthe bins.” The bins are not for the faint of heart, but damn are they cheap. Clothing items and more sell by the pound here. Yes, the price is set by how much your pile of loot weighs. This says a lot. Crowded and a little overwhelming, you’re going to have to dig for buried treasure here, but I have found a great desk and some other hidden gems before. This is an excellent place for the super thrifty. Bring hand sanitizer and gloves-I’m not kidding.

Best for: Extra cheap clothes, decent used furniture.

Thrift shopping is supposed to be fun, like a treasure hunt or a game of hide and seek; it is not supposed to be a daunting descent into the abyss of the overpriced. Luckily, these five shops are both fun and affordable! They are always changing, and items don’t last long, which provides an excellent excuse for weekly shopping trips on the cheap. Make sure to give these places a try next time  you’re looking for new-to-you goodies!


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