Bay Area thrift stores set hip clothing trends

Bay Area thrift stores set hip clothing trends

Imagine walking into Urban Outfitters. Spotted: an assortment of dip-dyed and bleached high waisted Levi’s 501 denim shorts. Make a beeline over to find the perfect size. Price: $55. Reaction: tears streaming down your face, for you do not have a whopping $55 to spend on shorts. Solution: head over to the nearest thrift shop, buy a pair of used Levi’s mom jeans for around $7 a pair, and have a do-it-yourself project. Compare the measly $7 dollars spent to $55 on almost the same product.

Thrift shopping, or “thrifting,” has always been popular among those willing to save at any given chance. Not only can people buy clothing and other items for a bargain, but thrift shops have unique finds from different decades, whether it is a jumpsuit from the 1970s or teeny bopper clothing from the 1950s. While thrifting can be helpful for a costume party, it can also help trendsetters revive the fashions of the past. Luckily, the Bay Area has numerous thrift shops to offer from the bottom of the Peninsula to San Francisco.

Buffalo Exchange

1210 Valencia Street, San Francisco,  94110, $$

With its first location in Tuscon, Arizona in 1974, this chain can now be found on both the West and East coasts. Shoppers can find a store in Berkeley, one in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district and one in the Mission district. Buffalo Exchange is a staple thrift shop. Providing customers with an eclectic selection of clothing, accessories and shoes, there is definitely something for everyone. For the most part, all Buffalo Exchange stores are fairly large in size.

The location in the Haight-Ashbury district has a large room for each style of clothing, from jeans in the back corner of the shop, to jackets lined against the outer walls. Customers come in and out either looking to score a deal, or coming in to sell their clothing. If lucky, shoppers can find bargains on new, gently used designer items. To learn more about the franchise, visit the store’s website at

Crossroads Trading  Company

1959 West San Carlos, San Jose, CA 95128, $

Another typical thrift shop, shoppers can find nine locations in the Bay Area and one in Santa Cruz. Very similar to Buffalo Exchange, Crossroads also offers gently used clothing for its customers according to the current season. A typical store is filled with racks of clothing, from tops to dresses all around the store with a rack of shoes in the back near the dressing rooms. Above the cash registers are pricier items, usually of a designer brand. Like Buffalo Exchange, customers can come in anytime during the day to sell their used clothing by dropping it off.

According to its website, the store pays the seller 35% of the price that the item will be sold for in the store. Selling hours are all day during open store hours and sellers receive their payment before they leave the store, unlike consignment stores. To learn more about Crossroads, visit their website at

Black And Brown

850 The Alameda, San Jose, CA, 95126, $$ 

In addition to San Francisco, San Jose also has its fair share of thrift shops such as Black And Brown. Unlike other bustling thrift shops, this store is usually never really crowded, giving customers more peace of mind. The store boasts all vintage or stylish pre-owned threads, offering customers a variety of clothing for reasonable prices. Shoppers can find a great collection of vintage Doc Martens shoes as well as other clothing from various decades. The store promotes local artists by displaying several paintings and other forms of art around the store.

“As an individual, I feel the compulsive desire to go to the exact same thrift stores as all my friends,” senior Dana Donnelly said. “Before I go, I actually look online at
for inspiration, just to make sure I have a look that’s super unique.”

The store is open seven days a week and offers buying hours during business hours. However, unlike places such as Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads, Black And Brown is particular in the selling item, they only accept vintage clothing, nothing contemporary.


4085 El Camino Way, Palo Alto, CA, 94303, $

With numerous locations around the country, Goodwill is a classic second hand store. Located behind El Camino Way in South Palo Alto, Goodwill sells more than just clothing. Fairly large on the inside, the store has various sections ranging from home items to children’s toys to clothing.

People come and go buying items for a bargain, and dropping off donations. Teenagers search throughout the racks, hoping to revive an old fashion trend, or buy clothing for a do-it-yourself project. Goodwill is a standard and average thrift shop. It offers a unique variety of items for a cheap price, giving you the bang for your buck.

Empire Vintage

443 Waverley  Street, Palo Alto, CA, 94301, $$

Hidden away in the skirts of downtown Palo Alto, this small shop provides its customers with vintage clothing dating from the 1940s up to the 1980s.

The store is extremely useful for those in need for a costume for a decade themed party, such as Mad Men in the 1960s to disco night in the 1970s. It also features a large men’s section with items such as suits, Hawaiian shirts, Members Only jackets and cowboy attire.

For the ladies, the store has a room dedicated entirely to vintage dresses from the 1950s to prom dresses of the 1980s. Cowboy boots line the shelves of the stores in all different styles and colors, and vintage designer purses hang above the cash register along with trunks of various sizes of each purse.

According to its website, Empire Vintage buys, sells, and trades vintage clothing that is 30 years or older. The store’s buying days are on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from one to seven p.m.; Empire Vintage is open seven days a week.

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