On She Goes

A Thrifter’s Guide to Portland

We’ve been pawing through thrift-store racks since forever.

Emilly Prado
Emilly Prado
April 17, 2017
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In classic counterculture style, Portlanders have been pawing through thrift-store racks since forever to create their distinct Pacific Northwest look. Our love of “recycle, reuse, reduce” also applies to our wardrobes, and the bevy of secondhand-shopping options make it easy to avoid contributing to the fashion-industrial complex. Below are my favorite thrift stores in Portland, covering a range of overall vibes and price points.

photo by Grace Rivera

Ask any true Portland thrifter for the best spot to find the cheapest gems, and they will most definitely tell you “the bins.” The Goodwill Outlet, located on the border of Portland and Milwaukie, sells goods by the pound and earned its nickname for the large, blue plastic bins brimming with unsorted donations. Like clockwork, new bins are rolled out throughout the day. Diehards hover behind the marked lines where the bins are parked in anticipation of new deliveries, and you’ll quickly learn not to stand in their way. Beneath the dirty sweatpants and limp bras lie the perfect pair of booty-hugging mom jeans—you just have to find them! Pro tip: bring gloves.

1740 SE Ochoco St, Milwaukie, OR 97222. Every day 8am–8pm

Village Merchants, $–$$
From pink flamingos to Danish teak furniture and Lucite backpacks, Village Merchants has a selection of items as varied as their price points. While quality can be questionable at times, the impressive volume of inventory means you’ll be hard-pressed to leave empty-handed. Just be open to the vintage flour sifters and miniature Squirt can salt-and-pepper shakers you didn’t know you needed.

4035 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97202. Monday–Saturday 10am–7pm and Sunday 11am–6pm

House of Vintage, $$
A labyrinth of vendor spaces makes up the largest thrifting venue in Portland at House of Vintage in the Hawthorne neighborhood. While there are some nice, boutique-worthy pieces to be found, most items are priced like high-end thrift, not vintage. Plan ahead if you’re determined to thoroughly snake your way through all of the aisles, as you can easily spend several hours here. Pro-tip: if you find an item you like, but it’s out of your price range, it doesn’t hurt to bring it to the counter and ask if that vendor is willing to take a lower price. Cross your fingers when the clerk calls the vendor to haggle for you.

3315 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214. Every day 11am–7pm

photo by Grace Rivera

Artifact, $$–$$$
A newcomer to the Portland thrift scene, Artifact is quickly rising to become one of the most popular shops in town. They’ve continually perfected their buying on the houseware and clothing side—so much so that they’ve finally noticed how underpriced their beautiful roomful of international textiles are. This change was so swift, I almost purchased a $1,400 runner when I misread it with one less zero. The staging is noticeably on point throughout the store, making even the most inconspicuous stapler feel like an artisan treasure.

3630 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97202, Monday–Saturday 11am–7pm and Sunday 11am–6pm

Magpie, $$$
A dimly lit, slightly bougie vintage-store vibe with a decent collection of clothing for men and women and incredible costume jewelry, Magpie has moved from their downtown Portland location to the Southeast side. The clothes are so good that you learn to find forgiveness in your heart for the aloof staff. And my friend, a glamazon standing a foot taller than me at 6′ 2″, swears that they’re the only place in town where she can find killer striped bell-bottoms that’ll fit her long legs. For minimal digging, you too can find sensible dresses for all your holiday work parties or an equally amazing ’80s high-cut swimsuit à la Baywatch for your next trip to Palm Springs.

1960 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214. Monday–Saturday 12pm–7pm and Sunday 2pm–6pm

XtaBay, $$$$
If you had to dream up a store that was up to snuff for the likes of Betty Draper, XtaBay would be it. A small, whimsical boutique located in the heart of the Clinton Street strip, the shop transports its patrons to 1950. Well-preserved, top-notch digs are to be found here. Pieces are so unique and high quality that the number of Benjamins it’ll take to bring home the world’s most perfect ball gown will eventually seem like a steal. Fuller-figured folks beware, as their super pared-down selections make it more difficult to find a size that fits. And for the brides-to-be out there, be sure to check out the bridal salon upstairs as it’s filled to the brim with gorgeous, surprisingly affordable vintage dresses.

2515 SE Clinton St, Portland, OR 97202. Hours vary