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My Experience Thrift Shopping in California.

thrifting on melrose avenue

It was not until I moved to New York that I really learned about vintage shopping. My friends and I would go down to SoHo for the weekend and visit different thrift stores. If you did not know, I love anything 90s from fashion, music, shows, and the overall era. I am not sure if it is because I was born in the early 90s. Sometimes, I feel as if I missed out on the 90s era as a teen/young adult. I get a nostalgic feeling when I look back at pictures of 90s fashion and parties. When making my thrift purchases a lot of it is 90s windbreaker jackets, silk shirts, button-downs, and sweatshirts. I knew that I would get a different shopping experience on the west coast. When I visited California, I did not know what to expect when thrifting on the west coast.

Melrose Avenue

I have never been to California until I visited this past spring. All my assumptions about California have been based on tv shows and movies. So, I was under the impression that Melrose Ave would be high-end and another Rodeo Drive area. I was completely wrong! If you live or have been to New York, Melrose gives me SoHo vibes. It had thrift stores, people selling accessories or clothes on the sidewalk, and various food spots. My friend and I ended up visiting Melrose at least once or twice a week while we were there. The people who were walking around Melrose were people who love to express themselves through fashion.

melrose ave graffiti
Melrose Ave Graffiti

Thrift Stores on Melrose

Here’s a couple of vintage thrift stores that I visited when I was in Melrose. These stores have a range of different styles from the 30s-current. You can find dresses, jackets, pants, shirts, shoes, and accessories. Some of these thrift stores sell high-end designers, bridge brands, and fast fashion clothing and accessories. I made most of my purchases from American Vintage. I found sweatshirts, button-down shirts, and windbreakers.

  • American Vintage sells vintage pieces from the 1930s-1990s. (7575 Melrose Ave)
  • Reformation Vintage sells thrift clothing and accessories. (8253 Melrose Ave)
  • Wasteland sells designer and bridge band vintage clothing and accessories. (7428 Melrose Ave)
  • Melrose Trading Post happens on Sundays. It’s a huge outside flea market with different small businesses from thrifting, skincare, food & drinks, and more. This is a ticketed event but costs less than $10 for a ticket. (video below)
Melrose Trading Post

San Francisco Thrifting

thrift/vintage black Valentino pumps
Valentino VLTN Patent Pointed-toe Pumps

We drove from Los Angeles to San Francisco for a couple of days. While we were there exploring the city, we were able to squeeze in some thrifting. We went to the Wasteland store in San Francisco (1660 Haight St). The difference between the LA location was that they seemed a little bit cheaper in pricing their designer items.

In the SF location, I found nude Christian Louboutin for $200. Unfortunately, they were one size too big! I did end up purchasing black vintage Valentino pumps for $400. It was an absolute steal as their original price and online was between the $700-900 range. We went to various thrift stores such as Buffalo Exchange and other thrift stores.

I would say that SF was not as big with the designer labels as LA thrift stores were. You do not see the same clothing as you do in LA. I would say you get more graphics and noticeable clothing in LA. In SF, you would get pops of random outgoing pieces but it was pretty contemporary in my eyes.

Personally, I would go to the Wasteland in SF location again. I found those vintage pumps, and they had other designer pieces that I loved. I would say they have some older pieces than the LA store.

It can be weird purchasing second-hand items but most of these items have never been worn. You can tell if items have been worn multiples times through the fabric. I would look into thrifting as soon as possible. So many great pieces are out there that you have been looking for. Share your favorite places to thrift and vintage shop in the comments.

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