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The Standard Guide to Thrifting in San Francisco 

Written by Julie Zigoris, Shelley D. Fargo, and Joseph GillespiePublished Aug. 12, 2023 • 7:00am
Patrons shop and sell clothes at Crossroads on Fillmore Street in San Francisco on Aug. 16, 2022. | Juliana Yamada/The Standard

San Franciscans have good fashion taste. That means the city’s vast array of vintage stores have something for everyone, from the budget-conscious to the designer-inclined. Scoop up some originality when you thrift for everything from faux fur to funky tees across the San Francisco, particularly in the vintage-saturated Mission and Haight-Ashbury neighborhoods.

Not only will it be easy on your wallet, but it’s also good for the planet. Upcycling clothes can stem the tide of fast fashion by curbing the nearly 20 million tons of fabrics that end up in landfills every year in this country.

And while office spaces and traditional retail may be shuttering at an alarming rate, vintage stores hum along in a city that embraces slow fashion nearly as closely as slow food, to the point that the City by the Bay was dubbed the “thrifiting capital” of the country by TimeOut magazine. Keep reading for our favorite thrift store picks across the city, where what you wear has always been a clue to who you are.

Goodwill on Fillmore 

The Goodwill on Fillmore, part of the national nonprofit that helps job seekers, receives rave reviews for its designer-label finds, thanks to its location in the tony Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood. In total, Goodwill operates five thrift stores in San Francisco and has also supported local education: Lynda Grose—a sustainable fashion expert and chair of fashion design at California College of the Arts—served on Goodwill's regional board for seven years and assigned students work with the nonprofit on projects to turn unsalable donations into upcycled styles. Goodwill's Lower Pacific Heights shop is expansive and well organized, with a wide selection of clothes, accessories and knickknacks on display. 

1669 Fillmore St.
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Out of the Closet 

Support a good cause when you shop at the two Out of the Closet locations in San Francisco—96 cents out of every dollar of revenue goes to funding HIV prevention and care. An out-and-proud outfitter for everyone fabulous, this national chain ensures you’re sure to find the perfect feather boa or sequined stunner at its colorful outlets. 

1498 Polk St., 1295 Folsom St.
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Community Thrift

The vibrant purple walls of Community Thrift have served as a beacon to vintage shoppers for over four decades, selling knickknacks, household goods and books alongside used clothing. Better for furniture than for threads, this Mission District shop is the place to go when you’re outfitting your new apartment.

623 Valencia St.
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Salvation Army

The OG in the thrifting game, you’re also supporting a good cause when you shop at Salvation Army. There are numerous locations in the city, but the Valencia Street outlet in the Mission is regarded as the best for good reason—it’s absolutely enormous. While you may not get the kind of curated merch you can find at other vintage outlets, you’re bound not to come home empty-handed.

1500 Valencia St.
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Cameron Rappaport fixes and organizes the clothing racks at Held Over on Haight Street in San Francisco on April 20, 2023. | Source: Justin Katigbak for The Standard

Held Over

Held Over is one of two vintage stores in the Bay Area owned by Retro City Fashions, a clothing company that has specialized in curating unique vintage for over 35 years. An enduring presence of Haight Street, shoppers love Held Over for its reasonable prices and organization. With affordably priced clothes sorted by decade, it’s impossible to walk out of Held Over without making a purchase. Owner Werner Werwie also has a thing for legit Hawaiian shirts—and no, we’re not talking about Tommy Bahamas.

1543 Haight St.
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Buffalo Exchange

With approximately 40 locations throughout the U.S., consignment chain Buffalo Exchange also has two San Francisco outlets: in the Mission and the Haight. You can buy, sell or trade used clothing at the Buffalo Exchange shops but be warned—the buyers are  known for being very selective.

1210 Valencia St. and 1555 Haight St.
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Chloe’s Closet 

With locations in Bernal Heights and the Inner Sunset, Chloe’s Closet is the best place to shop when you have a tike in tow—or when you’re expecting one. You’ll find maternity clothes as well as used kids’ clothing, baby gear and toys. The stores also accept consignments, which you can turn into cash or store credit.

451 Cortland Ave. and 616 Irving St.
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Sui Generis

Sui Generis has smart, elegant clothing for men and women on Market Street in the Castro. With sleek black and gray decor that gives off the vibe of a refined Manhattan boutique, you’ll find luxury labels like Gucci, Chanel and Prada here alongside lesser-known designer and vintage brands.

2231 Market St.
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Wasteland 

Don’t let the name surprise you—Wasteland smells more like a soap store than a garbage dump. And inside the doors is a whole range of treasures, from the 1960s up until today. Carrying both true vintage and vintage-inspired clothing, the sprawling Upper Haight shop believes variety is the name of the game.

1660 Haight St.
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Goodbyes 

Goodbyes has been a spot for good buys in Presidio Heights since 1991, carrying well-known brands and offering both in-store and at-home consignment. With more traditional clothing on offer, this might not be the best place to score a leather jumpsuit or a feathered handbag, but smart work clothes? It's got you covered.

3333 Sacramento St.
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Theresa Watson, left, watches Eloika Schemmel, right, try on a jacket at 710 Collective on Haight Street in San Francisco on April 20, 2023. | Source: Justin Katigbak for The Standard

ReLove

A perfect mix of high-quality, well-curated vintage and designer clothes at reasonable prices, ReLove in Polk Gulch is the store for the expressive and imaginative. Red suede trench coat and a matching belt? Check. Blue and yellow '80s varsity jacket? Check. You can find the colorful, subdued, modern and gaudy, without looking like you just stepped off a Pan Am flight from the '70s.

1815 Polk St.
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Body Philosophy Club

Body Philosophy Club lives up to its name. With a focus on the aesthetic and emotional experiences of the clothing, the Inner Sunset store curates items primarily made from natural fibers, sourcing from within 50 miles of San Francisco. With a solid mix of '80s silk and cotton, as well as bags, towels, housewares and other vintage, the store is a one-stop shop for a mellow, breezy look.

211 Hugo St.
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Crossroads on Fillmore

With three locations in San Francisco and dozens of locations up and down the West Coast, Crossroads is one of the most successful recycled fashion companies. Due to its proximity to Pacific Heights, the Fillmore location has a constant stream of high-quality donations at hard-to-beat chain prices. Crossroads also buys clothes—though usually the selling process involves watching the buyer slowly sort all your old favorites into their “no” pile.

1901 Fillmore St.
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Cris 

This high-end consignment shop in Polk Gulch has a staff that takes pride in helping you personalize your look. Cris Consignment runs pricey, but accessible basics, like casual dresses and blouses, are fairly priced. With a selection of top-quality brands like Chanel, Gucci and Prada, it’s a go-to stop when shopping for a special occasion.

1813 Polk St.
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Decades of Fashion

Owner Cicely Hansen has been collecting and curating vintage for over 50 years, and it shows. Within the Art Deco Haight Street building, you’ll find a diverse selection of vintage from the early 20th century to yesterday. If you are going to a themed party, Decades of Fashion is your best bet for costume shopping.

1653 Haight St.
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No Shop

No Shop has a well-curated, well-rounded selection of clothing for men and women alike. Prices have yet to be influenced by the trendiness of vintage thrifting, so buyers can find low-price items alongside pricier, rare vintage finds. The Mission District shop tends to rotate inventory pretty frequently, so it’s an easy place to come back to again and again. The many plants in the store make for a nice shopping experience.

389 Valencia St.
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Julie Zigoris can be reached at jzigoris@sfstandard.com


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