Thrifting in Pittsburgh: Where To Go, and What To Look For

Thrifting Spots To Check Out and How To Build A Makeshift Fit

Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Thrifting has recently taken over the retail industry. It’s said that the best places to go vintage or secondhand shopping are in midwestern cities like Pittsburgh. As a midwesterner from Warren, Ohio, I’ve made the hour drive to Pittsburgh for day trips and thrift trips alike. 

When you mention places like Ohio and Pennsylvania, people generally will say something like “there’s only cornfields there right?” or “oh so you’re from the boonies.” While those things might be true, one aspect that's best about the midwest is our vintage and thrift stores. They tend to be cheaper, bigger, and a place where you can find more rare finds than expected. 

As someone that has been shopping thrifted and secondhand clothes almost my entire life, I have a special place in my heart for thrift stores. Their wanky shelves, disorganized books, and records, questionable furniture, and appliances are what come to mind. Thrift stores hold a certain level of nostalgia, as the items all hold a story from their previous owners. 

A good way to give back to local communities is by thrifting and secondhand shopping. Not only is it more environmentally friendly, but you can find quality items for cheaper. It’s well known that buying used clothes instead of new ones reduces CO2 emitted from textile production. Buying only secondhand reduces the carbon footprint of your clothing consumption habits by 82%, and it keeps stuff out of landfills. Being able to dress nice while also on a budget is also one of the most rewarding parts of thrifting. It can be a fun activity to do with friends as you’re hunting the shelves to find staple pieces for your wardrobe. 

It’s estimated that around 9 billion clothing items are hardly worn or sitting idle in consumers’ closets at home. 
Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Thrift and Consignment Shops in Pittsburgh

Thrifting can feel intimidating to newcomers. It’s always good to come to the thrift store prepared for anything to happen. You might come with a certain list of things you want or need, but that might not always be what you walk out the door with. Another good way to prepare is to visit more than one store in a day -- that way, you can optimize your time and effort to find what you need. If you’re in the Pittsburgh area and looking for thrift stores, search no longer: we’re here to help. 

Thriftique 

Ran by the National Council of Jewish Women in Pittsburgh, Thriftique can be found at 125 51st Street. The Pittsburgh store’s funds go directly to provide employment opportunities for at-risk women and young adults with special needs. The organization also sponsors community service projects and internships. Their annual Designer Days fundraiser encourages people to shop in groups for great deals on gently-worn clothing ranging from designer to vintage finds. To learn more visit their website or follow them on Instagram @thriftiquepgh.

Community Thrift Center

With two locations, the Community Thrift Centers of Pittsburgh have been around for decades. They’re a unique substitute for Goodwill or Salvation Army, while also giving back locally. Their two locations are on Noblestown Road and Babcock Boulevard. Visit their website for store hours and more info, or like them on Facebook

Highway Robbery Vintage 

If you’re looking to go more on the vintage route, Highway Robbery Vintage is the perfect place to shop. Their specialty is in authentic vintage clothes and accessories ranging from the 1950s to 1990s. They hope to encourage people to mix vintage clothes with modern style to create a new look. Some of their clothes are more on the pricey side, but for the quality it’s worth it. The shop is located at 2012 E Carson St. Follow their Instagram @highwayrobberyvintage for style tips. 

Thrift Out Loud

Patrice Jones, founder of Thrift Out Loud, began by showing her thrifted outfits of the day to friends and family members. Now, she’s a Thrift Lifestyle Specialist, working with local thrift stores and nonprofits to share and inspire other women to shop while giving back to their communities. Her blog gives tips and tricks on shopping on a budget, different styles, and the incorporation of vintage and thrifting into your daily wardrobe. Ultimately, Patrice wants to influence the everyday woman to embrace thrift shopping by buying cheap secondhand clothing. Check out her Instagram and Twitter @thriftoutloud for daily updates. 

Clothes Minded 

A good place to buy, sell, and trade gently used secondhand clothes is at Clothes Minded. Similar to the consignment chain Plato's Closet, no appointment is needed to sell items. They hold a range of items in current fashion, trends, including vintage, and designer labels too. Located at 4740 Liberty Ave., follow their Instagram page for recent updates @clothes_minded_pgh.

How to Build a Thrifted Outfit

Finding your perfect thrifted outfit isn’t always the easiest, but it’s better to start sooner rather than later. Once you get the hang of looking and piecing random bits of clothes together, the better. My closet, for instance, is a mod podge of my different styles. Sometimes, I like to dress in mostly black clothes with a pop of color. Or, I’ll wear layers (especially in the fall) of sweaters with jeans. Other times, I look like I’m about to frolic into the forest and pick some flowers. I don’t think someone should have just one signature style. 

People have recently been shopping online more frequently than before, and the secondhand shopping market is booming on social media platforms. If you take a look at your Instagram explore page, most likely, you can find a thrifting influencer. A lot of influencers on Instagram show their thrift store hauls by modeling or selling them directly through the app's added shop feature. Or, they might link to their personal Depop account. The Instagram-equivalent app for buying secondhand clothes, Depop is a place where influencers and regular people alike sell their own stuff. It can be a place to find some really unique artists, creators, and items. 

Influencers with huge online platforms became famous largely on their thrift habits. Outfit planning, vlogging, and tips on shopping on a budget has become easier than ever with influencers and specialists paving the way. Some of the ones mentioned are right from Pittsburgh! Don’t take only my word for it though, and see for yourself.

Business Casual with a Twist

Looking for something to wear to work, an internship, or job interview? A thrifted suit is the perfect solution if you’re looking to find something affordable and trendy. Don’t shy away from bright flashy colors -- odds are, it’ll make you stand out. 

Vintage Band Tees with Jeans 

The classic thrift fit, you can’t go wrong with a flashy pair of jeans and a vintage tee. (If you’re lucky to find a shirt as cool as this one, that is.)

Denim on Denim

It can be hard to pull off, but wearing different shades of denim can make a statement. Partner a button up vest with jeans, or maybe a distressed jean jacket with your favorite pair of denim pants to create a unique look. 

When in Doubt, Wear Stripes 

It might seem loud, but wearing stripes with different stripes gives you a vintage look. Think 60s or 70s style and pair it with some big statement sunglasses and a cool purse, and you’ve got the outfit down. 

Put Together a Flashy Halloween Costume

It’s almost spooky season, and a great way to get a costume while on a budget is by exploring your local thrift store. This cosplayer thrifted and sewed her look for under $20. With a little imagination and creativity, anything is possible. 

Overalls Paired With Your Favorite Sneakers

For a comfortable and fashionable fall look, grab some sneakers with a statement t-shirt and some overalls to complete the fit. Odds are you won’t regret being comfy and fashionable.

Navigating thrift stores and discounted shopping is hard work, but in my opinion, the most rewarding. The benefits of thrifting outweigh the issues, and I think everyone can ultimately benefit from shopping secondhand. Hopefully, this article gets you on the right track. 

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Liz Anastasiadis

Liz Anastasiadis (they/she) is a writer + journalist, book lover & vinyl collector living in Cleveland, OH.
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