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7 Best Thrift Stores in Chicago

Who says being stylish has to cost a lot? There’s no shame in buying clothes second hand, especially when you’re in college. A lot of pieces from thrift stores are timeless, in great quality, and best of all, a great deal. Here are the best thrift stores (from personal experience and recommendations) in Chicago.

1. Buffalo Exchange

1478 N Milwaukee Ave

Located in the wonderful neighborhood of Wicker Park, Buffalo Exchange is definetly one of the more up to date thrift stores. They carry things that are currently trending in fashion and are in great shape. Prices can vary depending on the item but there are so many options, there is a deal awaiting you in the racks.

2. Knee Deep Vintage

1425 W 18th St

A Pilsen staple when visiting the neighborhood. When they put vintage in the name, they weren’t kidding. Stepping in here might make you feel like you’ve entered a time machine. It’s quirky and fun to shop around in.

3. The Brown Elephant

Lakeview: 3020 N. Lincoln Avenue

Andersonville: 5404 N. Clark Street

Oak Park: 217 Harrison Street

This thrift store has multiple locations throughout the city. Shopping here goes to a good cause. Proceeds go to Howard Brown Health, an organization that helps the LGBT community with healthcare. There are many treasures to be found in The Brown Elephant and with your purchase, you are helping someone with their health.

4. Family Thrift Store

2160 N Milwaukee Ave

This Logan Square thrift store is really a hit or miss, from my experience. But when you get lucky at Family Thrift, you get really lucky. I’ve found heavy cardigans that look like they’re from Urban Outfitters, flannels that would cost $50 elsewhere, and great accessories such as belts, bags, and scarves. It is worth a look at, especially since every section is color coded. I make sure to hit it up every time I am in the neighborhood.

5. Ragstock

Wicker Park: 1459 N Milwaukee Ave

Lakeview: 812 W Belmont Ave

Ragstock is a one-of-a-kind store. It has two locations in the city, in two of my favorite neighborhoods. The first level of the store is a regular retail store, the basement contains the vintage portion. In the basement, you will never find any items like it. Ragstock is such a fun store to go browsing around in for completely uncommon and unimaginable pieces of clothing.

6. Crossroads Trading Co.

Wicker Park: 1519 N. Milwaukee Ave

Lincoln Park: 2711 N. Clark St.

Andersonville: 5127 N. Clark St

Evanston: 1730 Sherman Ave

Crossroads is similar to Buffalo Exchange, and located right across the street from it (there are also locations in Lincoln Park, Andersonville, and Evanston). Like Buffalo Exchange, they focus on items that currently in style and in good condition. This store, unlike a lot of thrift stores, consists of a lot of designer names for a fraction of the cost.

7. Belmont Army Surplus

855 W Belmont Ave

This 4-level store is bound to give any shopper a whirlwind of emotions. Each level of the building has a different theme. In the basement, there is a shoe shop and skateboard shop. The first two levels are considered more “trendy” and definitely more expensive, the first level is directed towards men while the second is directed towards women. The third level is what the name says it is, army surplus. There are a lot of cool finds on this floor, including $10 flags. The fourth floor is vintage/thrift, where you will find sections dedicated to vintage cheerleading outfits, western cowboy/girl items, and ugly sweaters.

Christiana is a Communications major with a minor in Sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Originally from a very small town in central Illinois, she spends most of her time exploring the city. She enjoys live music, poetry, and cheesy indie comedies. Catch her around campus to talk about the latest in hip-hop releases.
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