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The Ultimate Guide to Thrifting in San Jose

I consider myself somewhat of a thrifting connoisseur at this point. Let’s be real, a college student’s budget cannot sustain a shopping addiction if you’re shopping at Urban Outfitters or other pricier retailers. And the older I get, the more I start to value good quality clothing. I almost never feel inclined to shop at fast-fashion retailers such as SheIn, Forever 21 or H&M. Not only do clothes go in and out of style in the blink of an eye, the clothes end up piling and deteriorating so quickly, no matter how much I try to take care of them. Thrifting enables me to spend fast fashion money on clothes that are higher quality and sometimes even vintage! Half of the clothing in trendier stores are ripping off older and era-inspired trends anyway.

To preface, I am not encouraging any kind of thrift resale. Depop resellers and curators have caused thrift store prices to skyrocket, and that defeats the whole purpose of thrifting in the first place. Half of the fun of thrifting is the thrill of the hunt!

San Jose, at a glance, doesn’t necessarily seem like the coolest place to go thrifting. I mean, everyone wants to thrift in places like New York and Los Angeles, but San Jose? Not exactly the top of the list. With that being said, as a commuter student at San Jose State University, I’ve had the opportunity to do some exploring and find the best thrift and secondhand stores in the area.

Savers - South San Jose, off of Almaden Expressway

This thrift store is HUGE. It can be super overwhelming, and unfortunately, their prices have been rising as of late. However, there is so much to choose from. For an avid thrifter, this is a great place to find anything you might be looking for. They have a huge selection of clothes, homeware, furniture, etc. If you’re interested in vinyls, they have a great selection of inexpensive records. They also have a fine jewelry case, where they store some of their nicer pieces of jewelry available to purchase. I’ve found some really cool pieces of jewelry there, and they’re all silver, so they last a while and don’t turn my fingers green. This is the type of place you need to set some time aside for, so you can take your time and peruse all the sections. I’ve found some amazing clothing pieces there, and it’s definitely one of my favorites.

American Cancer Society Discovery Shop - South San Jose, off of Almaden Expressway

This store is a recent discovery of mine (see what I did there? Not funny? Sheesh, tough crowd.) It’s tiny and out of the way, so it’s not necessarily the first place you would notice in the plaza. This shop has tons of vintage items and features a more curated selection of furniture, artwork, clothing and knick-knacks. There’s not a ton to choose from, but everything in there is well worth the money in terms of vintage value and curation. Not the most interesting place for a beginner thrifter, but definitely worth hitting up if you’re into true vintage.

Goodwill - Various Locations

I know there’s been some controversy surrounding Goodwill, but if you’re thrifting with the intent of creating a sustainable and affordable wardrobe, it’s a pretty good place to start. There are a couple of different Goodwill stores in San Jose, but my personal favorite ones are the Goodwill off of Almaden Expressway, and the Goodwill on Blossom Hill Road, both located in South San Jose. Goodwill prices are fairly consistent and relatively affordable, and the hunt is always fun. I personally love looking for t-shirts in the men’s sections, as there are tons of cool options for under $5.

HopeTHRIFT - Between Central and South San Jose, off of Almaden

This thrift spot is definitely one of the most affordable options when it comes to second-hand shopping in San Jose. Not only are most of the items here under $10, they have a couple of different sections of clothing on sale every day. Make sure to check which colored tags are discounted! They also have sales every Saturday. This store is almost as large as Savers, so lots of options and variety to choose from.

Black and Brown - Downtown San Jose

This thrift store is more of a curated, high-end thrift boutique. If you have a higher budget and less patience, this is a good place to add a couple of cool vintage pieces to your closet. I personally find this location to be a little bit pricey, but they have a good selection of items and are located super close to San Jose State University.

Check out any of these local thrift spots? Show us your hidden gems by tagging us @HerCampusSJSU on Instagram or Twitter! Happy thrifting!

Sophomore at SJSU, pursuing a bachelor's degree in Business Management. Lover of all things theatre and Disney. Collector of all things old and pretty. Find me on Instagram: @shay.singh
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