Philadelphia is fast becoming known for its great variety of vintage shopping options and expertise. With stores that focus on sustainable goods, donations, or rare finds, there’s something for every flavor of vintage enthusiast, or if you just want to dip your toe into the thrifting waters.
Though the term “vintage” usually refers to items 20 years or older, you’ll see everything from Victorian jewelry to Juicy Couture sweatsuits at Philly’s best shops.
There are two main vintage clothing corridors in the city, but many smaller thrift and consignment storefronts are popping up across the region, and dozens more Philly-based restorers can be found on Etsy. So you’re covered, whether you’re looking for bargains on modern designer brands or something special from the distant past. “There’s so many different styles and eras to explore. If you’re new to vintage, take your time and find items you love,” says Stephanie Avilés, a vintage seller and tiki enthusiast. “Does it make you happy? Remind you of a loved one? That’s what’s really important. Not the designer or the price tag.”
Indeed, most of the best shops in Philadelphia sell clothing that spans multiple decades, all curated by the taste of the owner. One visit and you’ll notice a particular theme, or influx of a specific item (like a big collection of atomic barware), that will give you a sense of the owner’s taste and catalog. If your style matches a certain shop, don’t be shy to introduce yourself. Some shops even offer styling services. “If you are not sure, don’t be afraid to ask questions,” Avilés says. “Vintage boutiques will put a lot of effort into cleaning up, researching, and curating items for patrons.”
With so many temporary markets, revolving events, and pop-ups, this is by no means an exhaustive list, as many shops have gone full Etsy or are art-market-only. However, there’s been a boom of new shops preparing to open, or just opening, in every theme from kitsch to bohemian, and with stock revolving quickly. The best way to keep up with the supply, hours, and pricing of these collections is to keep your eyes on their social media accounts — or to visit often.
Here’s where to go vintage shopping in Philadelphia.
SOUTH OF MARKET STREET
Queen Village / South Street / East Passyunk / Fabric Row
Coming Soon: You’ve probably run into curator Bridget Tyrrell at markets or during her time at Retrospect. Now, she’s taking her collection to her own brick and mortar (in the space previously occupied by beloved South Street staple Noise Pollution Records) and she has big plans. The shop will operate as a community space, with a beautiful back patio for markets and events, and a sunny, spacious shop for racks of funky gowns, housecoats, and random housewares and accessories. Having attended fleas for six years, Tyrrell is keeping an eye out for a variety of sizing, and styling but has a special place in her heart for the colors and fabrics of the ‘60s and ‘70s. As for moving into a neighborhood that’s fast becoming the spot for vintage shopping in Philadelphia, Tyrrell, who’s been collecting for six years, says there’s enough room for everyone. “With vintage, no two items are the same,” she says, indicating that vintage lovers will find something unique in every shop down Fourth Street.
Moon + Arrow
Not specifically a vintage shop, Moon + Arrow features a rotating set of vintage curators on a monthly basis. Past partners have included the very ‘60s Allyhoot Vintage and kitsch BigTop Vintage (which just opened its own shop in Port Richmond), and upcoming partners include Savor Collective. When it comes to the partners, Moon + Arrow doesn’t look for a specific style, instead it opts for partners who have very curated vintage items for mid-range prices. The shop itself is a minimalist, calming experience of home goods and personal care items, and always smells like honeysuckle; it’s worth a visit every few weeks to meet the latest curator.
Philly Vintage Bazaar
The bookend of the growing Fabric Row vintage corridor, this jewel box of a shop feels like a trip to the ‘70s from the moment you step in, with a handful of racks of colorful dresses, robes, pajamas, lingerie, polyester button-downs, and a variety of home goods, like sequined peacock framed wall art and barware sets in rainbow-shaded glass. The rack of western boots is a special touch, and even though merchandise rotates frequently, there always seems to be a few turquoise-laden bolo ties. The shop also features a few local non-vintage makers, and a small selection of vintage vinyl right near the front door.
Raxx brings a distinctly grunge feel to South Street’s thrifting corridor. There’s every type of denim you could possibly need, from jackets to shorts to miniskirts and, of course, jeans, hanging from the racks here, next to flannels, college sweatshirts, and varsity jackets, plus an array of leather belts and clunky silver belt buckles to top it all off. Though you can find items as low as $30, there are also some rarities, like original vintage sports team jackets or designer sweaters, that cost more than $100. Check in often for stock in the plus-size section and to look over the selection of patches, stickers, buttons, and other accessories.
Many people in Philly have a Retrospect story that involves shopping there as a teen and solidifying their love for thrift. Who can blame them? You can find everything at this South Street tentpole store, from ‘60s sleeveless tops to ‘80s band tees and random home goods with a funky retro vibe. Organized by color, the shop is only slightly curated, making for that real treasure hunt feel when you find the item you’ve been searching for. While the furniture is on the expensive side — with lamps, chairs and barware in the $100-plus range — the clothing is priced to fly off the racks. A favorite? An oft-rotating section of sleeveless tanks priced from $12 to $20. Come back often for the changing inventory, and check their Etsy shop for furniture too large to fit in the brick and mortar. And everything over a month old is 50% off.
Coming Soon: You might know this collection of turn-of-the-century-to-2000s vintage from their former location at Cuttalossa & Co. Now, owner Haley Pelton is poised to take over the old Merrygold Shop location in Bella Vista to showcase her assemblage of Comme des Garcons, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Calvin Klein. And even though her showroom is loosely based on couture designer studios, you can find items for as low as $40. The new shop soft opens on May 20 and officially opens its doors on June 24.
Philly AIDS Thrift
A list of vintage in this city would not be complete without mentioning Philly AIDS Thrift, although this store is an outlier in almost every way. There is no curation of the clothing, furniture, and electronics packed into two floors, and era, size, and history is likely a mystery as well. And though prices are really on the pendulum, you will certainly find the odd unexpected designer item, particularly in the second floor “vintage” room. A trip here is a true scavenger hunt. If you’re looking to donate, check the website first to see if your drop-off is accepted before dragging garbage bags of clothes to their front door.
Right next to Philly AIDS Thrift you’ll find an impressive collection of rare and special edition tees, sweatshirts, and windbreakers. Suplex specializes in sports, music, and culture, with items starring iconic TV shows, NASCAR heroes, and even wrestling greats. These are not your standard cheap tees, be prepared to look at special editions worth $100 or more — though you can find some band T-shirts in the $50 range.
If you walk too quickly through the Italian Market, you’ll miss one of the best vintage shops in Philly. Goods Vintage features an amazing cluster of modernist and avant-garde jewelry, watches, hair items, and small home goods. The display cases are packed with sparkling gemstone rings, art nouveau opal bracelets, and dozens of silver and gold chains. Though the quirky wall art, candlesticks, and midcentury ashtrays are a delight, the real unexpected charm comes from a few bowls of brooches and charms by the front door where you can find a deal on a one-of-a-kind piece. This is a shop that cares about its inventory and who owns it next, so if you love something that’s a tiny bit above your price range, ask if it’s negotiable.
Tucked into East Passyunk Avenue, you’ll find a very cool stack of denim jackets, leather boots, bodysuits, band tees, and a treasure hunt across decades, design sensibilities, and themes. There is no real curation at N.R.S. except that everything somehow works together, and because of that, and the entry-level pricing, it’s a low-risk toe-dip into thrifting. While there’s no real focus on certain decades, fans of the ‘70s and ‘80s will enjoy the looks to be had here. And pop next door where Mesh Vintage stocks hundreds of vintage dresses from the ‘50s through ‘70s.
Moore Vintage Archive
You can’t have a conversation about vintage in Philadelphia without discussing Keesean Moore’s design library. These are high-end special pieces, particularly curated by Moore, with names like Patrick Kelly, YSL, Dior, Chanel, and more. After years on the market circuit, Moore opened a studio space in the Bok building to take care of and curate these pieces into unique looks, and is now ready to open a shop on Fabric Row. You can feel his respect for the artistry of fashion and his love of culture and literature in this collection. This is not bargain-bin thrifting, but you will leave with an entirely new respect for re-loved clothing. Because Moore is always on the road at events and shopping fleas, keep an eye on Insta for the date of the new shop’s opening.
NORTH OF MARKET STREET
Fishtown / Kensington / Northern Liberties / Spring Garden / Feltonville / Germantown
Black Soul Vintage
Coming soon: Owner Tomarra Sankara-Kilombo is set to bring her experience curating Black art, culture, and ephemera to a unique storefront in Germantown. This shop will serve as a knowledge and community base as well as a vintage store. Besides retro tees and daily wear, you’ll find “anything Black culture-related, from a vintage book published in the 1930s to a Jay-Z CD,” Sankara-Kilombo says. “Imagine your average thrift shop with an artful upgrade in a Black-centric alternate universe.” Right now, you can shop blacksoulvintage.com for the aforementioned tees, sweatshirts, totes, and music, as well as original collage art by the owner herself, and a healthy collection of books by Black writers. Sankara-Kilombo also offers curation services to create a personal library of Black classics curated just for you. Keep an eye on Instagram for announcements.
I Spy, You Buy
This is an entirely different kind of thrift. This Germantown Avenue boutique has a big focus on fun and good vibes, with reworked streetwear and denim and pop culture favorite tees and jackets; your Fila, Adidas, Champion, and North Face are all here. If your vintage fix is more about nostalgia and pieces you can wear every day, and less of a deep history lesson, then this is a really good spot to fill your closet with staples in a sustainable way.
If this shop is open, stop everything and go. On the top floor of an industrial building called the Vintage Warehouse, you’ll find this exhaustive and curated collection of clothes from the ‘20s through ‘60s. While there are a few racks of women’s dresses and tops, Briar has an amazing stock of military menswear, leather aviator jackets, and combat boots in a wide variety of sizes. Don’t miss the small selection of college letterman sweaters, which are the perfect gift for every vintage lover. Make sure to also visit the bulk warehouse and Planet Dig, where you can buy thrift clothing by the pound, in the same building.
Made and Maker
You might know this shop from its appearance on Queer Eye, but you’ll remember it for its exceptionally well-curated collection of day gowns and dresses. Fanatics of that retro ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s vibe will feel very at home here, with styles that include matching tops and bottoms in rainbow shades, pastel two-piece suits, chiffon sleepwear, and bright accessories like beaded purses and gumball rings to match. With a mission of shopping locally, Made and Maker also features a rotating list of items made by regional makers, primarily personal care and accessory brands like Moon Cat Nocturnals. Peek into the back corner of the shop to spy a few little shelves of retro kitchen items and barware.
The first thing you’ll notice about Thunderbird is that it’s housed in a former church. The second wow factor hits you as you cross the threshold of this largely oddities and furniture warehouse. Look up and you’ll be met with walls of taxidermy, antique action figures, and Victorian jewelry. “They bring in new items daily and you can often find some rare gems here,” says Avilés of her favorite store. This already iconic thrift shop has a few racks of very interesting men’s and women’s clothing, uncurated but just as fun and colorful as the furniture and art it accompanies. Sports fans should definitely check out the variety of jerseys, sweatshirts, tees, and caps of both home and visiting teams. And ‘70s lovers will find a few tiki-themed house dresses, colorful ‘70s blouses, and tropical button-downs. When it’s full, stop by the basket of deadstock nylons and pantyhose, and don’t leave without checking out the jewelry and personal items in the front display case.
Two Percent To Glory
Another noteworthy stop in the Frankford Avenue vintage corridor, Two Percent is a shock of too-cool women’s, men’s, and ungendered clothing that shouldn’t work together, but somehow does. From pastel retro mini dresses to rugged denim, and wool military jackets to flouncy tiki tops, the mix feels right at home in the slightly chaotic but homey shop. You’ll even find a small selection of ‘80s neon heels and boots, as well as a few high-end home goods like midcentury art, furniture, and lamps that feel like the personal collection of your coolest friend. The shop features a wide range of prices, from items around $20 to $100-plus for boutique pieces. There’s a lot of love in this assembly, evident in the way these various styles combine effortlessly and look great on everyone.
Urban Exchange Project
If you know someone who isn’t sure about vintage, bring them here. This eclectic, fun shop hits you right when you open the door with a candy-colored punch of tie-dye tees, satin bomber jackets, and tropical button-downs. Rows of baseball caps hang from a display, advertising popular cartoons and pop culture icons of the ‘80s and ‘90s, sports teams, and musicians from the last half century. The shop has an amazing collection of varsity jackets in fantastic condition, too. Keep an eye on Insta for $35 fill-a-bag specials when, you guessed it, everything you can fit in a bag costs just $35.
Babydoll dresses, spaghetti strap tank tops, and Juicy Couture: This little women’s clothing shop is a trip back to the ‘90s and 2000s. The hidden gems are the denim bar up front, where you’ll find Levis miniskirts and striped wide-leg jeans, and the lingerie rack, packed with lacy corset tops and high waist bodysuits. It’s a great entry-level vintage collection to test out new looks, with items mostly in the $40 to $60 range, and some options as low as $30. If you’re feeling nostalgic for a silk cami going-out top, this should be your first stop.
Once Worn Consignment
The clothing packed into two floors of this curated shop are on the modern end of the scale, and at a lower price point than many of the other shops on this list, with women’s tops, bottoms, and dresses from brands like Zara, Free People, and Anthropologie starting as low as $10, and a smaller sample of men’s clothing similarly priced. Keep an eye on Once Worn’s Instagram for special items like designer handbags and accessories.
There’s a lot of true vintage (that’s anything older than 20 years) at Malena Martinez’s boutique, with an eye toward the turn of the century to the 1970s. The showroom behind her shop is so renowned in the vintage community that it’s often booked by personal shoppers and wardrobe stylists looking for authentic 1920s piano shawls, ‘50s jewels and gems, and everything in between. You can shop the store, or her well-stocked Etsy or eBay accounts often, but the design studio is appointment-only or by special event, although she often appears at big markets, like the Manhattan Vintage Show, with specialty pieces or does live Q&As on Instagram. Her wealth of knowledge around searching for and taking care of rare clothing is an excellent education for those looking to keep their investments in shape, and because of that curation and care, expect to pay $100-plus for most items here.
About the writer:
Anna Bellini is an artist and writer in Philly who has written for the the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and more.