For previous generations, finding a bargain pair of pants or shoes in an out-of-the-way thrift store was its own prize. Just ask your mom—no conversation about fashion is quite so satisfying as responding to the question “Where’d you get that?” with a casually unattainable “Oh, I thrifted it.”
Today, the art of the thrift has more urgent undertones. Resale shopping is often described as a green solution to the well-documented hazards of fast fashion: overflowing landfills, growing textile waste, and outsized CO2 generation. But buying pre-owned clothing doesn’t have to be a sorry consolation prize for forgoing the alternative of quick-turn, trendy polyester.
Thrifting can also be a crash course in cultivating style. Sifting through mountains of threads is much more conducive to honing your own fashion identity than picking up an ultratargeted, of-the-moment trend piece after it’s been served to you one too many times on Instagram. There’s something inimitable about rocking an outfit you managed to source and throw together all on your own. At the very least, you know no one will show up to the bar wearing the same top as you.
Whether you’re searching for vintage denim, retro band tees, or some unspecified treasure, the following Texas shops are great starting places for a sustainable journey into thrifted threads. Thanks to our state’s generations-long love affair with Western wear and our proximity to the border’s ropa usada industry, expect to find long-lasting, quality denim and leather and pounds and pounds and pounds of preworn items. If you’re already very familiar with the joys of bargain hunting, don’t forget: many of these spots also accept donations, or even purchase well-loved vintage items for resale.
For great sales: Texas Thrift
This chain of Texas-size thrift stores offers a huge selection of items for prices much lower than Goodwill’s. (My new favorite pair of nineties-revival flip-flops were $5 at Texas Thrift.) Plus, on some holidays, including Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Labor Day, and Memorial Day, Texas Thrift slashes those prices even lower, with as much as 50 percent off all items.
For comfortable, contemporary finds: Leopard Lounge
With vintage finds from the eighties, nineties, and aughts, this chain—featuring one location in Houston and, more recently, one in Austin—offers threads that still look contemporary enough to rock today. This is also the spot to shop if you’re searching for well-worn tees.
For well-loved denim: Personal Vintage
Shopping for jeans is difficult even when you’re buying a new pair straight from the retailer. Incorporate vintage sizing and it becomes downright harrowing. With a huge supply of vintage shorts and jeans organized by size, and employees who are knowledgeable on the makes of yesteryear’s Levi’s, Personal Vintage makes it blessedly easy to find that perfect pair of well-worn denim.
For the boys: Nylo Wool
Though you’ll find clothing for all identities at this Deep Ellum shop, Nylo Wool shines most in its selection of vintage menswear. Stop in for button-downs, jackets, coats, overalls, and more from the last century.
For a good cause: Out of the Closet
If you like to dig less than you like to shop, Out of the Closet, with locations in Dallas and Houston, offers a more curated thrifting experience. Plus, 96 cents of every dollar the shop makes go to AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s HIV prevention and treatment services so that the chain can offer free HIV testing at each of its locations.
The Colony, Dallas, Denton, Irving, Lewisville
For out-of-the-way hunting: Thrift Giant
It’s a thrifting truism that the better goods are often found in smaller markets less saturated by dedicated thrifters—they’re less picked over, the thinking goes. With Thrift Giant’s multiple locations throughout North Texas, it’d be difficult for even the most hard-core bargain enthusiast to sift through all of the chain’s enormous warehouses.
For authentically cool ambience: Vintage by THRFT
For vibe alone, Vintage by THRFT is worth a visit. With neon signage, stand-alone lockers, and pegboard siding, this El Paso shop could easily be mistaken for an Urban Outfitters. But with its one-of-a-kind novelty tees from past eras, and numerous flat-brim caps to match, Vintage by THRFT has more charm than a commercial store ever could.
For funky finds: Retropolis
For funky, bright, and colorful threads, you’d do well to visit Retropolis. With two stories filled with wares from multiple vendors, there’s something for every kind of thrifter in this Houston spot.
For a Y2K explosion: Baby Arcade
If your thrifting tastes orbit the early aughts, or if you identify as Gen Z (no matter your birth year), Baby Arcade is your shop. With Y2K-era baby tees, pristine Ed Hardy merch, and extremely busy printed pants, this McAllen store will teleport you to the turn of the century. Plus, the space hosts frequent pop-ups (and car meets) where you’ll be able to eye other thrift and vintage offerings.
McAllen, Richardson, San Antonio
For a Texas-size selection: Thrift City
Thrift City’s giant warehouses ensure that you’re bound to find something worth taking home. The sheer breadth of clothing is made somewhat more navigable by the chain’s color-coded racks—handy if you’re looking for a royal blue top or a little black dress.
For tidy shopping: Too Good to Be Threw
Shopping Too Good to Be Threw’s well-appointed space feels a little like shopping at a Marshalls or T. J. Maxx. Thrift stores aren’t often the cleanest of places, but this store bucks that trend with a space that’s tidy and cute, right down to the well-lit dressing rooms.
For name-brand finds: Clothes Mentor
This chain, with Texas locations in Arlington, Tyler, Selma, and more, is ideal for the thrifter who loves a brand name, such as Free People, Lilly Pulitzer, or Lululemon. With well-organized racks of dresses, skirts, tops, pants, jewelry, and purses, Clothes Mentor also feels more like a traditional retailer than your usual thrift store.
For the most bargain for your buck: Goodwill outlets
I once pulled a gorgeous, multicolored, rabbit-fur, made-in-Japan bomber jacket from the bins of a Goodwill outlet. It probably cost me 75 cents. Such is the appeal of the Goodwill outlets, where clothing costs between one and three dollars per pound and every once in a while, you hit on something really special.