Thrifting, and secondhand, reusable fashion, in general, has massively shot up in popularity in recent years, and for good reasons. Thrifting allows consumers to find unique, one-of-a-kind pieces at such an extraordinarily affordable price. However, there is an art to thrifting, so you are not found dazed and confused surrounded by grandpa sweaters that reek of stale cigarettes and damp basements. Therefore, here is a breakdown of a few of the best thrifting and vintage stores close to you with a few tips on how to get the most bang for your buck!
1. Plan A Thrifting Day.
Thrifting takes patience. There are so many clothes that are often unorganized, and every thrift store, even within the same chain, are set up differently. Don’t expect to only spend fifteen minutes in a store your first time and walk out with a brand-new wardrobe.
2. But Don’t Have A Plan.
Sure, know what stores to hit up and go in with a plan for certain items that you want, whether it be a pair of light-wash Levi’s or a cool, graphic tee from the 90’s, but I have often found that my most successful trips happen by amazing pieces simply falling into my hands versus scouring the whole store looking for a certain item, which only results in missing other really cool items.
3. Don’t Skip Over Jewelry, Scarves, Bags, Hats, And Even Shoes!
Amid the endless aisles of garments, we can easily ignore the pieces that can bring an outfit together or be the statement piece of an otherwise bland outfit. Often times, the jewelry and sunglasses are at the front of the store, and I have thrifted so many unique pairs of earrings, necklaces, and pins that will spice up any outfit. Thrift stores are the perfect place to find those cheap pairs of shades that are almost ugly, but for some unknown reason, you like them? Or at least find them hideously funny.
And there are so many satin scarves or printed bandanas that I love to tie around a ponytail or even around my neck to easily accessorize any outfit.
Literally, all of my bags are secondhand. I have found some stellar Juicy Couture bags to serve that early 2000’s, Y2K look without spending a designer price.
Finally, although worrisome, thrifted hats and shoes are the perfect way to get that trendy look without the high, trendy price. And I understand why people would be weary of buying hats and shoes at a thrift store, but with proper cleaning there is no need to worry, and they can look brand new.
4. Pay Attention To The Tags’ Colors!
Saving on top of saving is how you can turn a five-dollar pair of pants into a two-dollar pair of pants! All pieces have a colored price tag, whether it be orange, blue, yellow, or pink, on certain days that certain color takes a percentage off. Never have I actually been excited to look at the price tag!
5. Don’t Get Upset Walking Out Empty-Handed.
No matter if you’ve found an arm full of great items at that same store just last week, the next week could just be a dud, a dead end, a no go, and that is okay. Part of the fun of thrifting is the unexpected, and sometimes you have to take the losses with the wins.
Best Thrift Stores Near You!
Unfortunately, it is a sad fact that there is not the best thrifting scene in Tuscaloosa, which is why most of these locations are in the Birmingham area, but praise be Birmingham is only forty-five minutes away and serves as a great day trip destination!
To clarify, there are major thrift store chains such as America’s Thrift Stores and Big Saver Thrift Stores, but I have discerned them by specific city, because as I mentioned before no one thrift store is the same.
America’s Thrift Stores:
(1735 Skyland Blvd E)
This is truly your best thrifting option within Tuscaloosa, and I have been multiple times and have found some great pieces time and time again. Perfect place to find old school Alabama athletic gear as well as some sick vintage pieces.
Personally, I found some amazing retro red Nike shorts, and if slightly tacky, bedazzled Ed Hardy, which I proclaim as the Gucci, before Gucci, is your thing, I have found a full Ed Hardy red track suit with the iconic rhinestone tiger donning the jacket as well as his more subtle yet still attention-grabbing black logo, animal graphic t-shirts.
(218 2nd Avenue SW)
Although, this particular location has seemingly gone up in price recently, this is where I consistently find the majority of my thrifted wardrobe; often times walking out with a trash bag size of clothes I really did not need, but yet had to have. I find this Alabaster location has the best mix of higher end such as Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica, Levi, Nike, Adidas, and Harley Davidson along with the quirkier no name items.
Another bonus, is that this location actually has designated dressing rooms, which a lot of thrift stores randomly don’t have, such as the Tuscaloosa location, where I can embarrassingly admit I’ve gotten kicked out of the bathroom before in an attempt to try on the clothes. I mean, I get it, it is a shoplifting prevention, but c’mon help a girl out in her quest to ball on a budget.
(1125 Huffman Rd)
Despite this location being the biggest out of all three America’s Thrift Stores listed, it is the most hit and miss. I have found some amazing pants and scarves there before, but I have often times walked out with nothing. But one man’s trash is another man’s gold, so it is definitely still worth a visit. (Again, no dressing rooms, ugh.)
Big Saver Thrift Store
(9512 Parkway E, Birmingham, AL 35215)
And boy do they mean big! This is a warehouse that is packed from wall to wall, which can be quite overwhelming upon arrival, but amazing if you take the store section by section. Here is where I find a lot of my jewelry and sunglasses, which I hit up first since it is closest to the door, but in theory, it makes more sense to go to this last, but I’m quite impulsive and go to the first thing that catches my eye most of the time.
Nevertheless, Big Saver is the golden egg for hats and bags! I have found a small Juicy Couture purse for four dollars that I later saw online retailing for fifty! So many bags to choose from, you are bound to find something catering your style. Also, the hat section is bucket hats galore! So many good options.
Thrift stores are the best places to find any kind of sleepwear. Again, pick wisely and wash immediately, but I have found all of my robes, whether satin or fuzzy at this thrift store, specifically, as well as printed, satin pajama pants that I love to style for a night out.
Also, this is your best outerwear option on this list. Wide selection of winter jackets, rain coats, and sweatshirts. A must visit!
Lovelady Thrift Store
(7720 Ludington Ln, Irondale, AL, 35210)
Now, I truly appreciate this thrift store, not necessarily for their clothes, which I have found a few items, mainly in the men’s t-shirt section, but because it’s connected to the Lovelady Center.
The Lovelady Center works towards helping female ex-inmates transition back to normal society by providing them with a stable home at the center and a secure job at the thrift store itself in hopes of decreasing recidivism rates. Gives a superficial activity, such as shopping, a deeper meaning and purpose.
Quick side note, if you do visit, they have such an impressive home goods and furniture section, whether you want a candle or a couch!
The Foundry Ministries Thrift Store
(6550 Aaron Aronov Dr, Fairfield, AL, 35064)
Again, the Foundry gives thrifting a purpose. It serves both men and women who are recovering addicts with basic resources such as shelter and a job in the store, itself, but also with guidance and counseling rooted in Christianity.
A very large selection of apparel, especially skirts, pants, and purses, and a wide range of home décor.
Zoe Forest Park
(3900 Clairmont Ave, Birmingham, AL, 35222)
Although this is definitely a higher priced vintage store, you definitely pay for what you get.This store is such a Birmingham gem, and a perfect place to find the best Halloween costume. It offers fun, yet not tacky costume pieces, as well as amazing pieces from each decade which they have labelled and sectioned within the store.
Amazing variety consisting of denim pieces, whether jackets or jeans, or a bold 70’s maxi skirt, while also offering Mean Girls-esque Juicy track suits and high-end purses and shoes. Also, beautiful jewelry just fairly pricey, but still being less than new retail value.
Even if you don’t plan to buy anything, just go and stare in awe.
Sozo Trading Co.
(4 41st St S, Birmingham, AL, 35222)
Although the outside may look a bit off-putting with it being a grey, industrial warehouse by a set of train tracks, the inside is a dream and the staff is so friendly. This store is set up a bit differently than the rest of this list, because it has individual stalls that are rented out by different vendors selling their personally curated items.
Sozo is truly a hodge podge of items, and I often times walk out with more home décor than anything, but if you are searching for strictly clothes, they have a bunch of unique options, especially for the fancier dressed and businessperson.
Again, I have to mention their admirable mission, where majority of profits and efforts goes to building a Christian-based community in Uganda, Africa through their non-profit ministry, Sozo Children. Seriously, look up their cause, because it truly is life-changing for so many people, and it feels good to support such a strong message.