A Guide to Chicago's Best Thrift Stores
Thrifting in Chicago?
Whether you are new to the Chicago thrift store scene or a seasoned pro, take a look at this guide to some of the best second-hand stores in the Windy City. Vote for your favorites and add your own thoughts.
Make No Small Plans
Hundreds of Stores to Choose From - Where to Start?
The Chicago thrift store scene can be overwhelming. Spanning over 230 square miles, the city has more than 100 thrift stores, consignment and resale shops, from North Side church basements to giant strip mall chains in the far South Suburbs.
So what's the best tactic when deciding which thrift stores to tackle?
Pick an area and stick to it.
You could spend an entire day just visiting the Far North Side thrift stores alone. Don't make the mistake of thinking you can drive 15 miles between stores at 4:30 p.m. on a Friday, unless you want to sit in a few hours of traffic.
Find out which stores specialize in what you're looking for.
Vintage fabric? Books? Stereo equipment? Furniture? Focus on what it is you're trying to unearth, then head to the thrift stores that reliably stock those items. You can use the links below to get an idea of what stores have the best stock in what categories.
If at all possible, phone the thrift stores you're visiting to get their up-to-date hours. Small stores change their hours frequently, and even the chains suffer fires and floods that close their doors. Before you attempt a 45-minute drive across town, give the store a ding-a-ling.
Use one of the routes below.
If you're at a total loss and just want a handy guide to get you started, check out one of the pre-selected routes described below. Don't have a car? That's okay -- directions on taking the CTA are included.
Thrift Store Pricing, Sales & Tips
Familiarize yourself with some of Chicago's major thrift store's prices and policies.
Mondays are half-price day at Unique.
On Mondays, everything at Unique Thrift Stores is half price. It's pretty hectic, but often worth the hassle.
Most stuff is half-price at Unique and Village Discount anyway.
When you enter the store, take a look at the half-price sign hanging above the checkout. All but one color tag will be half-price -- the only full-price tag will be the new items out that week.
Watch out for the 10-Spot at the Village.
Items with the white tags (and the little dog) at Village Discount are just ten cents. There is a limit on how many you can purchase, however.
No price, no sale.
They say it, and they mean it. If you can't find a price tag on a garment, you have to wait for it to be re-priced and put out.
But seriously, if you're nice, one of the managers will usually just give you a price.
Watch for sales at the Brown Elephant.
People often complain that, while the Brown Elephant has some nice stock, it's mildly overpriced. However, each branch has occasional 50-percent off sales on certain merchandise ("green tags", books, etc.).
If possible, get on the mailing list.
Many smaller thrift stores (like the Junior League in Evanston, for instance) have email lists that will alert you to upcoming sales.
A Long List of Chicago Area Thrift Stores - Links and descriptions of some of the best Chicagoland thrift stores.
Given the frequency with which thrift stores burn down, flood, change locations, change managers, policies and stock, or just close their doors forever, a static list would become obsolete in months.
Instead, the following is a list of active Chicago thrift stores, with links to their official websites or profiles on review websites like Yelp or CitySearch.
In some cases where no external review are available, brief descriptions are provided, but where one author may think a thrift store is clean and tidy, others may find it chaotic and disorganized. While one person may think the t-shirt selection is stellar and housewares department bunk, another may think the opposite. Therefore, rather than review each store, links to reviews are provided when available.
- Village Discount Outlet - 2032 N Milwaukee Ave
- Village Discount Outlet - 4898 N Clark St
- Village Discount Outlet - 3301 W Lawrence Ave
- Village Discount Outlet - 2043 W Roscoe St
- Village Discount Outlet - 6419 S Kedzie Ave
- Village Discount Outlet - 4635 N Elston Ave
- Village Discount Outlet - 2514 W 47th St
- Village Discount Outlet - 4020 W 26th St
- Village Discount Outlet - 7443 S Racine
- Village Discount Outlet - 4027 N Kedzie
- Village Discount Outlet - Suburban Stores
Link to official site for suburban locations.
- Unique Thrift - 3748 N Elston Ave
- Unique Thrift - 3000 S Halsted St
- Unique Thrift - 3542 S Archer Ave
- Unique Thrift - 4441 W Diversey
- Unique Thrift - 4445 N Sheridan
- Unique Thrift - 9341 S Ashland
Far South Side
- Unique Thrift - 5040 S Kedzie
Also known as "K-Mart Unique" as it's next door to a K-Mart.
- Unique Thrift - 7530 N Western Ave
Recently-opened West Rogers Park outlet.
- Unique Thrift - Suburban Stores
See official site for suburban, Indiana and Ohio locations.
- New To You - United Church Thrift
1545 W. Morse in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood.
- Junior League of North Shore Thrift House
920 Chicago Ave. in Evanston.
- ORT Resale Shop
915 Chicago Ave. in Evanston.
- Salvation Army - 4315 N Broadway
- Salvation Army - 2270 N Clybourn
- Salvation Army - 4141 W North Ave
- Salvation Army - 5036 W 47th St
- Salvation Army - 2024 S Western
- Salvation Army - 2151 W Devon Ave
West Rogers Park
- Salvation Army - 3301 W Montrose Ave
- Salvation Army - 509 N Union Ave
- Salvation Army - 5112 S Ashland Ave
Back of the Yards
- Salvation Army - 5713 W Chicago Ave
- Salvation Army - 2941 N Central Ave
- Salvation Army - 6536 W Roosevelt
- Salvation Army - 3055 W 63rd St
- Salvation Army - 4224 W Belmont
- Salvation Army - 528 Kedzie (Evanston)
Suburban Evanston location.
- American Thrift - 1718 W Chicago Ave
- American Thrift - 2874 N Milwaukee Ave
- Family Thrift Store - 2160 N Milwaukee Ave
- Brown Elephant - 5404 N Clark Street
- Brown Elephant - 3651 N Halsted Street
Boystown flagship store.
- Brown Elephant - 1459 N Milwaukee Ave
- Brown Elephant - 217 Harrison Street (Oak Park)
Suburban Oak Park location.
- White Elephant Resale Shop - 2380 N Lincoln Ave
- The Ark - 1302 N Milwaukee Ave
Wicker Park Official Site
- The Ark - 3345 N Lincoln Ave
- Animal Care League Resale Shop
Located in suburban Oak Park. Visit their official site.
- Avenues To Independence Resale Shoppe
7700 W Touhy Ave in Edison Park.
- Luther High School North Thrift Shop
6059 W Addison St
- Norwood Park Home Thrift Shop
6019 N Nina Ave
- St. Pius Parish Store
1701 West 18th Place in the Pilsen neighborhood. This is a small church thrift store with odd hours. Very slow stock turnover, but not frequented by many "pickers" so you can find interesting stuff here.
- Crystal Thrift Shop
8018 S Halsted. Remains somewhat of a mystery, but appears to be a reality according to Google Street View.
- Marillac House Thrift Shop
The 'Nifty Thrifty' Resale Shop at 2859 W. Jackson Blvd. is open from 9am-4pm Monday through Friday.
- Second Season
Located at 9110 S. Ashland on Chicago's far South Side, this may either be a pawn shop or a thrift store. Verification will require an actual visit -- more information will be posted when available.
- St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store
9321 S Western Ave. There were two SVDP Thrift Stores in the Chicago area until recently -- the South Kedzie store recently closed its doors.
Thrift Store Routes -- Driving
Far North Side
Start at the Junior League in Evanston (920 N Chicago), then go right across the street to ORT Resale Shop (915 N Chicago).
Then take a quick jaunt down Chicago Ave. to Kedzie to hit up the Salvation Army (528 Kedzie).
From there, drive back into Chicago to visit the Unique Thrift Store at Howard and Western (7530 N Western).
If it's a Tuesday, Thursday or weekend (and it's before 3 p.m.), run over to the United Church Thrift Store on Morse (1545 W. Morse).
Then head down Clark Street toward Devon and check out the newest Salvation Army (2151 W Devon).
Nearer North Side
Start at the first Albany Park Village (3301 W Lawrence), then head over to the second (4027 W Kedzie).
After that, visit the Albany Park Salvation Army (3301 W Montrose). From here, it's easy to get to the Irving Park Village (4635 N Elston), which is just a stone's throw from the Irving Park Unique (3748 N Elston).
If you're still hungry for more, after you're done here, check out the Avondale Salvation Army (4224 W Belmont), and from there you're just a short drive from the Hermosa Unique (4441 W Diversey).
Start at the "KMart Unique" on Kedzie (5040 S Kedzie) which is a short drive south of the Stevenson Expressway. From there, head south on Kedzie to the Village Discount (6419 S Kedzie), or you can go further East to check out the Back of the Yards Salvation Army (5112 S Ashland).
After this, from either location, take an east-bound street over to the closest Village Discount (7443 S Racine), and from there get back on Ashland to visit the southernmost (non-suburban) Unique Thrift Store (9341 S Ashland). If you're feeling adventurous and you're willing to pony out the gas money, from here you can drive to the suburban Unique Thrift in Dolton (1030 E. Sibley Blvd.) or the Unique in Markham (3041 W. 159th St.). Google Maps or Garmin are probably your best helps here.
Near South Side
Start at the Little Village Village Discount (4020 W 26th St) -- and go early. Traffic can be killer in this neighborhood after noon, especially on a weekend. From there, head down to the Brighton Park Village (2514 W 47th St).
If you want to drive further west on 47th, you could go the extra 25 blocks to the Salvation Army (5036 W 47th).
From here, use your map skills to get you to the McKinley Park Unique (3542 S Archer), and once you've checked that one out, you can either try the Bridgeport Unique (3000 S Halsted) or the Pilsen Salvation Army (2024 S Western) depending on which direction (east or west, respectively), you'd like to end up at the end of your trip.
If you're feeling adventurous after the Pilsen Salvation Army, check out the St. Pius Parish Store (1701 W 18th Place), if it happens to be open.
Thrift Store Routes - Walking, Biking or Public Transport
Use one of these neighborhood friendly routes to hit up several thrift stores, if you don't have wheels.
Start at the ARK Thrift Shop (1302 N Milwaukee) and from there it's just a jog up the street to the Wicker Park Brown Elephant (1459 N Milwaukee). From here, you can walk, take the Milwaukee bus, or bike up to the Bucktown Village (2032 N Milwaukee), which is just another short walk from the Bucktown Family Thrift Store (2160 N Milwaukee).
Start at the Boystown Brown Elephant (3651 N Halsted). The walk, bike or take the 36 Broadway bus north to the Uptown Salvation Army (4315 N Broadway), which is just a short jaunt from the Uptown Unique (4445 N Sheridan).
From there you can walk, ride your bike take the 78 Montrose bus (near the Wilson El stop) and transfer to the 22 Clark bus, which will drop you off in front of the Andersonville Village Discount (4898 N Clark).
From there it's just a jog up the street (you can take the 22 Clark bus again) to the Andersonville Brown Elephant (5404 N Clark).
Little Thrift, Junk Shop R.I.P.
What happened to all the little junk shops?
Do you remember George's on Clark Street in Andersonville? How about the two nameless junk stores on opposing corners of Rogers and Howard in Rogers Park? Chicago Thrift in Greektown? What about that lady's shop near Devon and Glenwood?
Thrift stores take up a lot of space, and space costs money. Unfortunately, selling used merchandise doesn't always rake in the cash, especially if you don't have a high merchandise turnover rate. Resale shops, junk stores and independent thrift stores once dominated Chicago's thrift landscape, but rising rents have forced many to close their doors. If you know of any small-time operators not included on the above list, please include a comment in the space below... if you dare to share.
Your Favorite Chicago Thrift Store?
Choose your favorite thrift store from our edited list.