The Where & How of Thrifting in LA

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Oh thrift stores. What wonderment you behold between your racks of unwanted items. The walls teeming with potential life changing $3 finds. The perfect band tee awaits you in a bin that also contains VHS’s and socks…or there is nothing to find but XL bowling shirts and awful dresses from the early 2000’s. Oh thrift stores.

Thrift stores can be tricky dark holes that can, literally, make you feel dirty when you leave. Not to mention that it can be real touchy in LA as we have so many hip people who live here. Places can get picked over quick and can leave you with the same amount of money you walked in with and no one wants that. Real thrift stores can make or break you, or at least make you really hungry and in need of some caffeine ASAP. With out the proper tools to guide you it is easy to get lost in the racks and bins and stacks of items. It can be frustrating.

Here is some practical advice that should take some of the edge off of your next thrifting venture:

What am I looking for? If you are in need of something specific try and keep it in the forefront of your mind, or write a list if it’s more than a couple items. Us humans love gravitating towards things we love, which is good when it comes to with friends and family, but not good when we need shorts but keep buying sweaters. Prioritize that love. Keep an open mind that what kind of item since you can come upon some funky items that will bring an extra dose of originality to your wardrobe or home.

What should I wear to go there? Thrift stores tend to not have areas where you can try on clothing. Try to wear something form fitting that you can easily check the fit of a garment in. Wearing shoes you can slip on and off will also help the time it takes to strip down and throw on an item.

What’s that stain? Usually if you have to ask yourself this you probably shouldn’t buy it.

To tailor or not to tailor? To repurpose or not to repurpose? Are you actually going to sand that table and paint it? Will tailoring that dress make the purchase worth it? Putting in a little energy to have a one-of-a-kind piece usually is worth a little headache, unless you never actually do it. Then think about why you are thrifting in the first place.

Take a second look. Most places don’t accept returns. You wouldn’t want to be stuck with that lime green skirt forever, now would you?

List of LA’s Best Thrifts:

National Council of Jewish Women, multiple locations
Society of St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, 210 N. Ave. 21 90031
• Rose Bowl Flea Market, 2nd Sunday of every month, 1001 Rose Bowl Drive, 91103
American Caner Society Discovery Shop, 844 S Robertson Blvd. 90035
Helping Hand Thrift Shop, 1033 S. Fairfax Avenue
• The Rummage Rat Thrift Store, 7139 Owensmouth Ave, 91303, (310) 490-5030
BTS Thrift Boutique, 10409 W Washington Blvd, 90232
• Sunday’s Best Thrift Apparel, 547 W Sunset Blvd. 90026, (213) 986-5695
UCLA Thrift Store, 11271 Massachusetts Avenue 90025
• Squaresville, 1800 N. Vermont Avenue (at Melbourne Avenue) 90027, 323-669-8464
• Son of a Vet Thrift Shop 3310 N Eastern Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90032, (323) 227-1808

Jaclyn Joan is a Contributing Writer for Living Out Loud - LA, covering lifestyle and entertainment. Follow her on Twitter: @JoanJaclyn
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