Score the best retro clothes and furniture at one of these best thrift stores in San Francisco!
My worst nightmare is showing up at an event to find someone wearing the same dress (my cousin’s wedding, age eighteen, floor-length purple strapless dress from the Jessica McClintock outlet).
But when you stick to vintage clothing, the chances of that happening become pretty slim.
I’m a huge proponent of buying second-hand. Not only is it a sustainable alternative to fast fashion’s competitive prices, but it’s also a surefire way to ensure your clothes and home decor are unique and eclectic.
And if you’re going thrift shopping, San Francisco is the city to do it in.
I spent my formative years thrifting in San Francisco, and I can safely say that SF’s thrift shops are responsible for at least a third of my personality.
San Francisco’s economic landscape has shifted since my youth. These changes have eliminated some legendary thrift stores that raised me (a moment of silence for Thrifttown at 17th and Mission).
But the spirit of San Francisco doesn’t die easy, and the city is still rife with places to buy vintage pieces and used contemporary clothing–if you know where to look!
So, come with me on a tour of the best thrift stores in San Francisco, CA, and discover the city’s hidden gems.
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San Francisco Thrift Stores Map
#1 Held Over
Location: 1543 Haight St, San Francisco, CA
Best for: Vintage threads from the 1970s
We’ll start with a crown jewel. Haight street’s Held Over is one of the best vintage stores in San Francisco.
As a teenager, I found an incredible pair of all-red cowboy boots here, and I bought them even though they were too small.
Stepping over the threshold of this store’s entrance is like stepping back in time. The cavernous, concrete-floored interior has been unchanged since its doors opened in 1976.
Inside, you’ll find a glass countertop overflowing with a jumble of costume jewelry and pins, plus racks heavy with 1970s leather jackets and wool sweaters.
You’ll also find floaty peasant dresses, baskets of silk scarves, and a pastel array of polyester vintage slips. The best part? All pieces have reasonable prices considering their quality.
Location: 1660 Haight St, San Francisco, CA
Best for: Trendy vintage goods
I can’t mention Held Over without bringing up Wasteland. If you make only two stops while thrifting on Haight Street in San Francisco, make Wasteland your second one.
Behind an impressively ornate facade, Wasteland offers a treasure trove of cool vintage and used men’s and women’s clothing.
Wasteland is undoubtedly on the pricier end for thrift stores as their selection is more curated and trends toward newer used clothes and designer pieces, but it’s worth a visit!
#3 Buffalo Exchange
Buffalo Exchange has locations all over the US and two in San Francisco. But a thrift store is only as good as the material it collects, and San Francisco’s Buffalo Exchange locations are top-notch.
This chain thrift store buys and sells clothing, so you can unload some things that you don’t need to make room in your closet for the new stuff you’ll score.
Similar to Buffalo Exchange, Crossroads is another nationwide chain thrift store to sell clothes and buy them.
Crossroads has three San Francisco locations, and they’re all packed with affordable and fashionable used clothing.
#5 Community Thrift
Location: 623 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA
Best for: Low-cost home goods and unique finds
The Community Thrift store is next to Clarion Alley in the Mission, a narrow street between Mission and Valencia lined with a rotating gallery of incredible murals.
Once you’ve admired some colorful public art, step into Community Thrift to find low-cost home goods, kitchenware, books, and clothing.
This non-profit mainstay has been operating since 1982. And 100% of the sell price of each item gets donated to one of the 200 local charities that the Community Thrift store works with.
It’s also a certified San Francisco Green business, so you can feel good about the cash you spend there.
#6 Goodwill (Haight)
Location: 1700 Haight St, San Francisco, CA
Best for: Scoring low-priced, unexpected gems
Of course, there are Goodwill Stores all over the country, but that doesn’t stop the Haight Street location from being one of the best cheap thrift stores in San Francisco.
There are many Goodwill locations throughout the city, but Goodwill stores will vary drastically depending on their neighborhood.
So, for funky vintage, I strongly recommend the Haight Street location, whose selection rivals any of the independent thrift stores that line Haight.
For a more curated and mature selection (think pantsuits and work-appropriate blouses), check out the Goodwill Boutique in West Portal (61 West Portal Ave).
Prices at the boutique are a little higher than your average Goodwill store, but you might even find a Marc Jacobs or a Louis Vuitton purse there.
#7 Salvation Army (Valencia)
Location: 1500 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA
Best for: Finding precisely what you need but never expected
Like Goodwill, the Salvation Army has stores across the country and multiple locations around San Francisco, but the Valencia Street location has always served me well.
Within its enormous, multi-room location, you’ll find clothing, home goods, furniture, jewelry, and everything in between.
I’ve scored an excellent carry-on rolling suitcase there for $15 and a child’s wizard cape (had to have it). I also still have a kitschy 1970s cat plate my mom bought for me there when I was a kid.
It has everything you could imagine and some things you can’t!
#8 Out of the Closet
Out of the Closet has locations across the country and even internationally (I’ve been to one in Amsterdam!). Their bright magenta locations are always easy to spot.
Their two San Francisco storefronts are solid thrift stores that are sure to turn up some affordable clothing benefitting a good cause.
The company is owned and operated by the Aids Healthcare Foundation, which uses the proceeds from the thrift stores to offer free AIDS healthcare and HIV testing.
#9 Afterlife Collective
Location: 541 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA
Best for Awesome 80s shirts and higher-end vintage
For one of the best curated used clothing stores in San Francisco, Afterlife Collective doesn’t disappoint.
Afterlife specializes in vintage T-shirts. And while their prices are far from cheap, they have an excellent selection of hip clothing from the 80s and 90s, and you can also snag sunglasses for under $20.
Location: 2150 Newcomb Ave, San Francisco, CA
Best for: Mysterious used treasures and art materials
Though it’s not a thrift store in the traditional sense because it doesn’t sell clothing, SCRAP is a treasure that this list would not be complete without.
On an unassuming street in SF’s industrial district off Bayshore Ave, the SCRAP warehouse overflows with a junk-store jumble of donated materials.
In one corner are stacks of National Geographics dating back to the 1940s. There are photo albums filled with strangers’ faces and antique piano rolls. Bins of tiles, half-burned candles, and defunct telephones will keep you occupied for hours.
Bring your haul up to the counter and the cashier will glance it over, shrug, and throw out an impossibly low price. SCRAP is magic.
Location: 2391 Mission St, San Francisco, CA
Best for: Affordable vintage furniture
Another thrift shop that doesn’t focus on clothing is Carousel, one of the best furniture thrift stores in San Francisco.
Located in the Mission district, this furniture consignment store focuses on good-quality mid-century furniture, decor, lamps, and art.
You can also sell your used vintage goods through Carousel and receive a percentage of the profits.
#12 Chloe’s Closet
Chloe’s Closet is a consignment store for children’s clothes, baby gear, toys, and maternity styles.
Toys and apparel for kids are expensive and they outgrow them fast. At Chloe’s Closet, you can find this merchandise at an affordable price and sell the things your child has outgrown.
Once your consigned item has sold, Chloe’s Closet offers 50% of the sale price as store credit or 35% by check.
They have two SF locations; one in the Sunset and one in Bernal Heights (plus, there’s one in Berkeley as well).
And starting this summer, their inventory will also be available online, making Chloe’s one of the best San Francisco thrift stores that are online.
Location: 1499 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA
Best for: Scoring valuable vintage finds
Vacation is an impeccably-curated vintage store that opened in the Tenderloin and now makes its home in North Beach.
Compared to other thrift shops, Vacation is on the high end of the spectrum, as they carry high-quality true vintage pieces that can range up to several hundred dollars.
But you’ll also be able to find stylish vintage for under $30 there, so there’s something for everyone.
FAQs About Thrifting in San Francisco
Is San Francisco good for Thrifting?
San Francisco, with its historically funky and eclectic vibe, has some of the best thrift stores in the Bay Area.
In recent years, rising prices have brought closures of some of SF’s classic, super-cheap thrift shops, including my favorite thrift store (you live forever in my heart, Thrifttown).
But there are still many great options for thrift shopping in the city.
What is the most popular thrift store in San Francisco?
The mostly widely-trafficked thrift stores in San Francisco are the larger, more well-known chain stores such as the Goodwill, Goodwill Boutique, and Buffalo Exchange.
What is the best San Francisco neighborhood for thrift stores?
My favorite neighborhood for thrifting is the Mission. You’ll notice that many of the thrift shops on this list are on Valencia or Mission street.
The Haight is also a great place to find thrift shops, especially if you’re looking for vintage clothing from the 70s.
You’ll also find many newer, higher-end vintage stores on the city’s northeast side.
Head to The Tenderloin and North Beach for funkier, more hip vintage, or Pacific Heights and along Fillmore Street for higher-end designer brands on consignment.
Otherwise, you can also check outside the city in the greater Bay Area for lower prices that are less picked over.
And don’t forget–some of the best thrift stores in San Francisco aren’t in brick-and-mortar spaces.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elina Ansary is a writer, visual artist, and avid traveler. She grew up in San Francisco, CA, and spent her childhood camping up and down Northern California. These days, she visits artist residencies around the world and has lived in Amsterdam, Australia, and now Brooklyn, NY.
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