Thrifting Coups

Where to Thrift in the San Francisco Bay AreaDec 17 2015

Now, normally I would not be giving away my best thrifting resources - being my trade secrets and all.  I don't want to compete with you!  But in the spirit of the holidays I will let you in on some of my highest performing thrift stores in the Bay Area, specifically Silicon Valley because the rest of the Bay is just too picked over, but mostly because I don't live there anymore so I don’t care if you guys take all the good stuff.  You’re welcome!

Read on for my not-so-secret Silicon Valley gems.

San Jose (Almaden): Savers, 4950 Almaden Expressway #20, San Jose, CA
You might notice a trend here, but Savers/Value Village/whatever it’s called where you’re from, is far and away the best thrift chain out there.  This is probably because of its size (they call it the thrift department store).  But in this particular location, you do not have as much stiff competition because it’s south San Jose and it’s just so. far. from things.  On my last business trip out to the Bay, I found: barely used Stuart Weitzman knee-high boots for $12.59 with my stamp card, a never-used leopard Moschino Cheap & Chic pencil skirt for $5.59 with the original tag still on it, and a variety of vintage men’s wool flannel plaid button downs.  If you only go to one Savers in the Bay Area, make this one it.

San Jose (Almaden): Goodwill Silicon Valley, 3060 Almaden Expressway, San Jose, CA
Like all Goodwills, the Goodwill of Silicon Valley is hit or miss, but when it’s hit – it’s hit!  Fairly well-organized with an insanely large shoe and purse selection, this Goodwill has been consistent for me in its 1990s grunge and Studio 54-era fur jackets.  Don’t ask me why.

San Jose (Parkmoor): Savers, 1545 Parkmoor Avenue, San Jose, CA
Slightly more picked over than the Almaden location, this Savers is also a good stop (if you go EARLY) for vintage, particularly in the men’s department.  The last stop I came away with: several 1960s/1970s plaid wool scarves, a cashmere beret, a vintage Stanford sweatshirt, and some Fire King coffee mugs.  You will likely run into Black & Brown employees (see below) scouting inventory but they’ll always give you a smile!

Milpitas: Savers, 60 Dempsey Road, Milpitas, CA
Quite possibly the smallest and maybe dingiest Savers out there, Milpitas has been a very high performer maybe 50% of the time for me.  My most legendary finds have, in fact, been from this Savers.  Multiple pairs of vintage Frye boots and classic Salvatore Ferragamo flats, the right kind of vintage Christian Dior sweaters and blazers (not boxy), not to mention some pretty crazy coats (most recently, a galloping horse fringe blazer).

Fremont: Thrift Town, 41200 Blacow Road, Fremont, CA
Fremont is a weird place in general (but pretty much the best in terms of Indian/Pakistani food), and Thrift Town is no different.  You will see all kinds here.  Pricing is all over the place and quite perplexing on shoes and bags in particular, but most of the time, if you dig, you’ll find some super super cheap stuff.  I recommend going to the purse bin by the linens instead of looking on the racks (they’ll price the crappy stuff at $20 but then you can find some gems in the bin for $4).  They also separate the vintage out to its own rack (if you can find it!), which is sometimes very helpful, and sometimes makes zero sense whatsoever (as in: not vintage).  Lots of vintage Diane von Furstenburg blouses and Pendleton plaids to be had here (latest find for me: vintage Levi’s leather purse).  Their vinyl is sometimes great too.

BONUS!  San Jose: Black & Brown, soon to be moving
Not exactly a thrift store, but worth a mention here.  Black & Brown takes the concept of a Buffalo Exchange or Crossroads Trading Co. but does it for on-trend vintage as well, usually at prices only nominally above thrift stores.  However, you will find FABULOUS vintage pieces here, even vintage and non-vintage designer, that quite simply is the best collection of vintage outside of Etsy.  The shoes and bags in particular are on point.  Period.  Black & Brown has been my favorite store for years, and I always find time to go when I’m out in the Bay for work.  My latest haul from Black & Brown: amazing amazing denim faux shearling jacket from the 1970s, and a perfect crazy print DVF dress, also from the 1970s.  Just go go go to Black & Brown, you won’t be sorry.

Most of my most recent Bay Area finds are up in the Etsy shop now.  Clicky-clicky!

More thrifting tips to come!  If you ever have any questions about thrifting, please don't hesitate to contact me!  Follow us on Instagram for thrifting updates and early deals in the Etsy shop.