On our house-hunting journey to Seattle, we couldn’t skip the chance to dive into the local thrift shop scene, particularly in the vibrant neighborhoods of Capitol Hill and Fremont.
My partner has a knack for scouring thrift store T-shirt aisles for unique finds. Our exploration took us to a Capitol Hill Goodwill, where we snagged a Seahawks cotton jersey for under $5—a bargain that felt like Seattle’s way of rolling out the welcome mat.
Thrifting in these artsy, eclectic areas is an adventure in itself, promising an afternoon rich with discoveries.
Just a tip: patience is key in these treasure havens.
1. Best Rummage
For those who revel in the chaos and charm of thrift stores reminiscent of an episode of “Hoarders,” the Fremont Vintage Market is an unmissable destination.
This treasure trove is brimming with an eclectic mix of items that range from mid-century modern furniture that whispers tales of the past, to classic vinyl records awaiting their next spin.
The collection extends to nostalgic vintage pins, adding a dash of retro flair to any ensemble. Among the more unusual finds, a series of unsettling x-rays of teeth can be found, presumably originating from a dentist’s office.
It’s an odd assortment that sparks curiosity about its previous life. The market also boasts an impressive array of local artwork and prints, showcasing the creativity and spirit of Seattle’s artistic community.
As you make your way to the checkout, be sure not to overlook the dollar bins. These are filled with antique keys, each with its own mysterious history, and tiny glass apothecary bottles that hark back to a bygone era of medicine and alchemy.
These small wonders are perfect for collectors or anyone looking to add a touch of vintage charm to their decor.
2. Best Modern Clothes
The Capitol Hill Goodwill transcends the typical thrift store experience, embracing the ambiance of a Brooklyn factory loft with its industrial chic setting.
This isn’t your average Goodwill; the fashion here is modern, fresh, and on-trend. Shelves and racks boast contemporary labels such as ASOS, Madewell, and Eileen Fisher, with most items flaunting styles that have barely left the runway, seldom older than two seasons.
You might be able to find a perfect suit or classic attire for a cocktail night.
Venture downstairs, and you’ll enter a realm of home decor and furniture that complements the fashion-forward upstairs. Among the curated selection, I stumbled upon charming antique auditorium chairs that whispered stories of past gatherings and chic woven baskets that promised to add a touch of artisanal elegance to any room.
While this section may not be as expansive or as densely packed with treasures as the clothing area above, it holds its own with unique finds that cater to the discerning eye.
3. Best Vintage Clothes
Indian Summer is a haven for vintage clothing enthusiasts, offering a diverse collection of vintage frocks that cater to all body types, including an inclusive range of plus sizes.
This inclusivity is particularly noteworthy for those who, like myself, may not fall into the plus-size category but require more generous fits in certain areas, such as the bust.
Finding sizes 12 and 14 that accommodate such needs was a refreshing experience. The expertise of the shopkeeper adds another layer of charm to the shopping experience.
Their deep knowledge of fashion history is evident as they guide you through an impressive array of period pieces. Each garment tells a story, with silhouettes and cuts that span from the intricate designs of the Victorian era to the bold and eclectic styles of the 1990s.
This breadth of knowledge not only enriches the shopping experience but also helps customers find pieces that flatter their body type and suit their personal style, all while paying homage to the past.
4. Best Curated
Revival, nestled in the heart of Capitol Hill, is a study in meticulous curation, presenting a collection that feels like the embodiment of effortless cool. Stepping into the store, you’re greeted by an aesthetically pleasing array of succulents that dot the space, alongside hip, contemporary jewelry and an enviable selection of vintage Little Black Dresses (LBDs).
The ambiance conjures the sensation of wandering through the abode of the most effortlessly stylish person you know, where every item tells a story of elegance and discerning taste.
However, the beauty and exclusivity of Revival’s collection come with a caveat: the price point. The team behind Revival are no novices in the vintage and boutique scene; they possess a keen eye for value and rarity, pricing their items to reflect their worth and uniqueness.
As a result, while the shopping experience is streamlined, sparing you the hours of sifting through less curated collections for that one gem, it does demand a willingness to invest more.
5. Best Books
For those in pursuit of the latest literary releases, Elliott Bay Book Co. is the quintessential destination, boasting an expansive collection of new titles that cater to every reader’s palate.
However, if it’s the charm of pre-loved books you’re after, Ophelia’s Books in Fremont is a treasure trove waiting to be explored. This quaint bookstore distinguishes itself not only through its curated selection of used books but also through its enchanting ambiance, making it a standout for the title of ‘Most Instagrammable’ spot in this list.
Ophelia’s Books invites you into a whimsical world where literature meets artistry. The centerpiece is a cozy loft reading nook, furnished with inviting, timeworn chairs that beckon you to sit and delve into a book.
The allure of this nook is amplified by the mysterious spiral staircase that winds down to the basement, where the mystery section awaits enthusiasts of the genre.
What is the best city to thrift shop?
There is no definitive answer to this question, as different cities may have different types of thrift stores and items. However, some of the cities that are often mentioned as great places for thrifting are Berlin, New York, Los Angeles, Houston, and San Antonio.
Is thrifting a thing in Europe?
Yes, thrifting is a thing in Europe, and it has become more popular in recent years as people are more aware of the environmental and ethical benefits of buying secondhand. Many European cities have a variety of thrift stores, vintage shops, and flea markets where you can find unique and affordable items.
What is worth money at thrift stores?
Some of the items that are worth money at thrift stores are designer clothes, vintage board games, rare books, jewelry, art, antiques, and collectibles. These items can be resold for a profit on platforms like eBay, Etsy, or Poshmark. However, you will need to do some research and check the condition and authenticity of the items before buying them.
What sells the most in thrift stores?
Clothing is the item that sells the most in thrift stores, accounting for about 32% of the industry revenue. Clothing is in high demand because it is versatile, fashionable, and affordable. Other items that sell well in thrift stores are furniture, books, electronics, and household goods.
It’s evident that the city is a mosaic of stories, each waiting to be discovered in the folds of a vintage dress or the pages of a forgotten book. The adventure lies not just in what you find, but in the stories you become a part of along the way.
So, whether you’re a local or just passing through, remember: every corner in Seattle is a doorway to the past, inviting you to step in and add your own chapter