New(ish) fit, who dis?: A guide to local thrift

It’s 2018 and a new year means the unbearable pressure of making everything in your life new — especially the way you look. Of course, some new clothes are the easiest way to fix all that. Too bad you’re working with a student budget dependant on free 99 bus rides and you’ve already sold your right kidney for those new textbooks. Luckily, Vancouver has tons of secondhand shops for guys, gals and non-binary pals.

Here are the best of them so you won’t have to dropout of college (or sell the other kidney) to afford some snazzy new threads.

Turnabout — 3112 West Broadway

Strictly speaking, Turnabout isn’t a thrift store — it’s a consignment store. While thrift stores feature donated items, everything in a consignment store is curated and brought in by the original owners for resale, which means you too can sell your clothes here — but they keep a big cut of the profit.

They have shops all around Vancouver and selection varies by location. They’re definitely at the more bougie end of secondhand. Not faux fur bougie, but more like, $300 Vivienne Westwood sweatshirt bougie. Luxury streetwear aside, they also carry sizeable collections from Aritzia, Club Monaco and those kinds of brands. It’s a great place to thrift if you don’t want to look like you thrift.

  • Price: $$ to $$$
  • Pros: Quality stock
  • Cons: Limited styles
  • Vibe: Contemporary, chic, for people who have an uber professional Linkedin profile

Value Village — 1820 E Hastings St.

Value Village (aka VV Boutique) is basically a secondhand department store and has everything you love and hate about thrifting: that weird secondhand smell, aisles upon aisles of junk and the satisfying feeling of finding that one unique piece that you and only you will have. VV Boutique’s located far from campus, but it’s totally worth the trip if you’re willing to do a little bit of treasure hunting.

Pro tip: become a “super savers club” member and you’ll get a heads up any time they have their massive 50 per cent off sale.

  • Price: $
  • Pros: Tons of stock
  • Cons: Tons of junk too
  • Vibe: All of the vibes. All at once. They have everything here.

Front and Company — 3772 Main St.

Helena Zhang

Front and Company is a long-standing consignment store known for their dazzling window displays and their highly curated stock. The “Front” side of the store sells a blend of new local brands and regular to high end consignment that’s always stylish, trendy or both.

The “Company” side features an ecclectic mix of adorable gifts and cards. Once a season they even open a pop-up next to the main shops, and the “Front” and “Company” come together to feature a selection of goodies for a specific theme. This month’s is “wellness” — and it’s well worth the trip if you want to feel better both inside and out.

  • Price: $$ to $$$
  • Pros: Quality stock
  • Cons: Limited styles
  • Vibe: Stylish, local, for people who have at least one succulent plant at home

Wildlife Thrift Store — 1295 Granville St.

Helena Zhang

Located in Vancouver’s Entertainment District, this low-key thrift store is a refreshing change of pace from the quick fashions and department stores of downtown. It’s a midsize shop with apparel, books and household goodies to boot. Their stock varies, but much like VV Boutique, you’re going to have to do a little digging to get to the good stuff. But hey, it all goes to a good cause*. If you like Wildlife Thrift Store, the SPCA Thrift Stores (3626 Broadway) are good ones to check out, too.

  • Price: $
  • Pros: Variety of styles
  • Cons: Hit or miss stock
  • Vibe: Cool vintage, newer stuff too

Community Thrift & Vintage — 11 W Hastings St & 311 Carrall St.

Helena Zhang

Community Thrift & Vintage is a social enterprise initiative that employs women of the Downtown Eastside (DTES). It also donates its profits to the Portland Hotel Society Community Services which advocates for housing, services and advocacy for residents of the DTES.

They have two locations right around the corner from each other — The Unisex Shoppe at 11 W Hastings St. and The Frock Shoppe at 311 Carrall St. Both stores offer nicely curated vintage pieces at reasonable prices. You can expect to find a sweet bomber jacket and some local soy candles at the Unisex Shoppe, while the Frock Shoppe has more dressy and femme apparel. Both are definitely worth a trip to the DTES, and while you’re there, check out Duchesse Vintage if you’re looking for some cute vintage duds.

  • Price: $ to $$
  • Pros: Quality stock
  • Cons: None, it’s perfect.
  • Vibe: Stylish vintage

F as in Frank & The Rag Machine — 2425 Main St. and the alley behind it

Helena Zhang

Located just off the 99 B-line, F as in Frank has one of the largest selections of vintage street and athletic wear in Vancouver. In the main shop, expect to see racks on racks of overpriced flannels, bombers, jerseys and reworked vintage. While you won’t be breaking the bank, you’re definitely paying a little extra for the ease of having all the good stuff in one place.

  • Price: $$
  • Pros: Quality stock
  • Cons: Repetitive stock
  • Vibe: The abandoned ’90s lovechild of Will Smith in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and the entire cast of Twin Peaks.

That’s where the magic of The Rag Machine comes in. Located just behind F as in Frank — you can access it through the store or the alleyway — The Rag Machine offers quality thrift at dirt cheap prices that rival VV. Bins of clothing are sold by the pound while some pieces are by the unit. Overall, you can expect some pretty unique finds. Plus, if you creep through their instas, @fasinfrankvan and @theragmachine respectively, you’ll find out about their latest drops and maybe even catch a pic of yours truly in there.

  • Price: $
  • Pros: Unique finds
  • Cons: Some digging required
  • Vibe: Whatever you want it to be

Well there you have it! Some of the best thrift Vancouver has to offer. Doesn’t matter if you’re bougie or cheap, or somewhere in between, you’ll be sure to find your newest (new-ish?) fit at one of these great stores.

*At the time of this article, the charities that the Wildlife Thrift Store donate to are Coast Mental Health, The Gathering Place, Positive Living B.C. and Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter.