Tough times demand flinty thriftiness, so with that in mind, I set out to find the best thrift and vintage stores in our realm. With a large offering of gently used clothing and accessories—some in the most current of styles—as well as home furnishings and collectibles, these places prove that it pays, both monetarily and stylistically, to shop in someone else’s closet.
Crossroads Trading Company
This chain spans the west coast (and Chicago) and its mantra is “fashion recycled.” A young, hip vibe fills the large space chock-full of clothes—some new, some gently used—and such accessories as scarves, sunglasses, hats, handbags, socks and shoes. They buy, sell and trade clothing (check the website for details) and are striving to be green. When you don’t take a bag, they donate to your choice of either the Pasadena Humane Society or the Environmental Defense Fund. Some of the best buys hang on the walls, and designer names are located behind the checkout counter. Spotted: a new-looking Coach makeup clutch for $27.50.
104 E. Colorado Blvd., Old Pasadena, 626.793.200, crossroadstrading.com
I knew this place would be packed when I drove up; the large parking lot was full and I had to circle three times before I got a space. It’s a huge store with lots of clothing. The quality of the clothing is uneven, so you really have to spend some time looking, but everything is clean and well organized. Spotted: trendy Kenneth Cole pumps for $7.99.
183 N. Altadena Dr., East Pasadena, 626.564.0335, goodwillsocal.org
The higher end of the clothing at this upscale thrift store benefiting Huntington Hospital is set off from the rest of the merchandise and is well worth some serious exploration. You’ll find some designer labels (Calvin Klein, I. Magnin) mixed in with the Pasadena-style Talbots basics. This is also a great source for affordable but quality used furniture, glassware, dishes, linens, books, jewelry and one-of-a-kind gifts. Don’t miss the collection of wedding dresses.
766 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena, 626.535.2488, thehuntingtoncollection.com
Out of the Closet
Benefitting the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, this thrift shop—part of a chain in California and Florida—fits the needs of students from nearby PCC and Caltech, and its ultra-pink facade makes it hard to miss. Its proximity to the colleges makes it a great place to buy books, especially at the end of semesters. The store has a huge selection of clothing, shoes, glasses and home furnishings, and some furniture. When I visited they even had quite a selection of newish-looking golf clubs. But clothing is definitely the specialty. It is all neatly displayed with like colors and items together, and new items are marked as such. Many customers stop in daily to see what’s new.
1726 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 626.440.1719, outofthecloset.org
An Eagle Rock institution for 17 years, Owl Talk caters to locals and college students from Oxy and Art Center. It has a homey, well-cared-for feel and extremely eclectic offerings, with a mix of vintage and new and a particular specialty in unusual hats and jewelry. Look for the beautiful, well-preserved clothing—like a recent great selection of white and cream lacy blouses—along with books, decorative items and a case of vintage and new jewelry ranging from $20 to over $300. The hats are, perhaps, the most eye-catching of all—in the pillbox genre I saw three outstanding examples: a marabou feathered number from the early ‘60s ($32); a velvet pillbox (very I Love Lucy) from the ‘50s ($20); and a turban pillbox of feathers from the early ‘60s ($28).
5060-B Eagle Rock Blvd., Eagle Rock, 323.258.2465, owltalk.com
Treasure Fair benefits the Assistance League of Pasadena, which helps students, seniors, victims of assault and abused or neglected children. And it does it with aplomb—parts of it look like a fine furniture store, featuring items from estate sales. It definitely has higher-end items you won’t see at other thrift shops. These finds—such as a handsome wood desk with a leather top for $65—are interspersed with more run-of-the mill clothing, house items, jewelry and more. In the Ritz Rack section of the clothing department, I found a cute, current Juicy Couture dress for just $25.
3239 E. Foothill Blvd., East Pasadena, 626.449.3326, pasadena.assistanceleague.org
Wistaria Thrift Shop
Behind the Sierra Madre Woman’s Club, in an historic, 1914 Craftsman bungalow called the Essick House, sits a gem of a thrift shop. It’s small, but it delivers, especially during one of its sales; there’s a terrific array of clothing, bric-a-brac, jewelry, belts, linens, toys and more. Hours are limited, since it’s all volunteer run, so call first.
550 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre, 626.355.7730, smwc.info