Shop Class: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

When money is tight, shopping at thrift stores can provide a fashionable and economical alternative.

With the economy in a slump, it is no wonder more shoppers are turning to resale stores for their fashion needs. Be economically wise and environmentally friendly by checking out some of Philadelphia’s best thrift stores and consignment boutiques.

Bargain Thrift Center

5245 Germantown Ave.
Monday – Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Wednesday, 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.,

It is worth the trek to Germantown for the amazing vintage finds at the Bargain Thrift Center. The floor is always packed with clothing, accessories and other goods for dirt- cheap.

Bargain Thrift boasts everything from vintage furs and wedding gowns to records and books. The store’s vintage section is comprised of bins holding hundreds of linen items like embroidered handkerchiefs, gloves and fur stoles. A glass case holds antique jewelry such as ivory cameo pins and ‘60s daisy pins. Fur coats, mink collars and quilted-lambskin handbags can be found behind the counter for insanely cheap prices.

Also, take the time to sift through the vinyl selection. There may be a rare Clash album between the Engelbert Humperdinck and Barbara Streisand records.

Philly AIDS Thrift

514 Bainbridge St.
Monday – Thursday, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday – Saturday, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Colorful flags and loud music make Philly AIDS Thrift impossible to miss. This nonprofit thrift store, located just off Fabric Row, accepts donations daily, sends proceeds to local AIDS service organizations and operates on a basis of 20 volunteers. For the month of December, PAT was able to contribute $111,500 to the AIDS Fund.

The store itself is filled with a hodgepodge of crazy finds that change on a daily basis. Recent finds include antique wedding dresses, ‘50s biker jackets, a 1971 Olympics sweater and a pair of ‘70s platform shoes.

Greene Street Consignment

700 South St.
Monday – Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday – Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

This consignment shop is the go-to place for designer goods at affordable prices. Greene Street Consignment sells only gently worn, high quality designer clothes and accessories. Expect nothing less than in-season and current fashions from this boutique that is perfect for shoppers who have champagne tastes but tight purse strings.

Find jeans from 7 For All Mankind and Citizens of Humanity for less than half the retail price. Common labels include BCBG, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor and J. Crew. Stop in on a regular basis because you never know when you may find a Betsey Johnson dress for $20.

Buffalo Exchange

1713 Chestnut St.
Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Once a Center City bargain secret, Buffalo Exchange is often as packed with as many customers as it is with merchandise. The Buffalo Exchange company focuses on being eco- and animal-friendly by buying new and gently worn clothing items for cash or store credit. The buyers then sort through and stock great fashion finds for men and women.

From men’s Levi skinny jeans to women’s Steve Madden boots, there is something for everyone. Buffalo Exchange is the perfect place to find like-new blouses and dresses from Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie for affordable prices. With a great selection of shirts, jackets and t-shirts, it is easy to get carried away.

A pair of shoes at Retrospect is just one option for bargain shoppers. The store is at Fifth and South streets (Julia Wilkinson/TTN).


534 South St.
Monday – Saturday, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.

It is no surprise that Retrospect made this list. This popular South Street store is heaven for vintage shoppers. Retrospect specializes in items for men and women from the ‘50s through the early ‘90s, carrying clothing, accessories, luggage, houseware and furniture. Many items are labeled and organized according to decade.

Look for fringed leather jackets, sequined blouses, ‘80s poof-sleeved prom dresses and floral patterned A-line dresses. Have a seat on a couch straight from the basement on That ‘70s Show and try on shoes from Retrospect’s impressive collection. Walls are lined with white patent leather peep-toe pumps, saddle shoes, jellies and cowboy boots galore.

Currently, many winter items are on clearance. Any item with a gingerbread man cutout on the tag is half-off. If some of these vintage finds are too funky to wear to class, give Retrospect a shot for costume parties and ‘80s dances.

Nicole Saylor can be reached at

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