Hello! I’m a thrifty mothereffer! That’s why I spend a lot of time combing Portland’s best thrift stores and antique malls every year to score holiday gifts, as well as the clothes on my back, the shoes on my feet, and the Urkel posters on my wall. Here are a few of my faves....
House of Vintage
When I’m looking for clothing of the cooler variety, Hawthorne’s House of Vintage is usually my first stop for the immensity of its collection, if nothing else. There are so many vendors here it’s next to impossible to go home without an awesome vintage leather jacket, a rare record album, an orange sparkly motorcycle helmet, a pearl-buttoned Western shirt, or a black velvet painting of a kitten that looks like its paws have been amputated. Book the entire afternoon for this one—you’ll need the time. (3315 SE Hawthorne)
Here’s another heavily curated vintage store where the selection leans ’70s and is in immaculate shape. Expect cool jerseys, slick jackets and jumpsuits, groovy belts, kitschy artwork, various and fascinating textiles, bitchin’ handwoven rugs, and lovely lamps. I have a vintage ’70s trailer that’s stocked to the brim with stuff from Artifact, and I am eternally grateful. (3630 SE Division)
This is where I go for lamps. I also go here for gently used and reasonably priced mid-century furniture and knickknacks—but mostly for lamps. I cannot stress this enough: Their lamp game is STRONG. The proper lighting can make any shithole look cool, so if you can’t find the vintage lighting system you’re looking for here... then come back in a month, because it will probably be here then. (1426 SE Hawthorne)
Main Street Collector’s Mall & Soda Fountain
Housed in a former old-timey drugstore, the Main Street Collector’s Mall in quaint downtown Milwaukie is a must-stop if you have geeky pals on your gift list. They have rows upon rows of glass cases filled with all sorts of vintage movie, TV, and comic book character stuff, and it’s all very affordable. Housewares, old-timey Christmas decorations, and record albums are also on the premises—as well as (PREPARE THYSELF) a working old-timey soda fountain where you can enjoy delicious, long-lost ice cream drinks like the black cow, egg cream, malts, root beer floats, and the best drink in the world that doesn’t have alcohol in it, the lime rickey. (10909 SE Main, Milwaukie)
Red White & Blue Thrift Store
About 10 minutes past the Southeast Portland city limits lies Oregon’s greatest thrift store (at least to my knowledge and experience), the Red White & Blue. This bustling store is jam-packed with tons of clothes (that haven’t been picked over a billion times) as well as furniture, weird art, shoes, electronics, and lots more. The clothing is arranged by size and color (yes!) and about the only downside is that they only take cash—though an ATM is right beside the door. Go and join the Red White & Blue cult. (19239 SE McLoughlin, Gladstone)
If you’re looking for quality vintage items, and you need to cover a lot of ground quickly, then Sellwood’s Stars Antiques could be the place for you. Tons of vendors pack out not one but TWO buildings, and it’s a great place to look for amazing vintage art, furniture, decorations, toys, and more. The prices aren’t the cheapest, but there’s a museum-like quality to this place. And if you’re looking for something in particular, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll have it. (7030 SE Milwaukie)
Again, not the cheapest, but if you’re a lover of mid-century furniture and home décor, this place is a LOT less expensive than those fancy-pants places downtown. Plus they have a sense of humor about themselves, and I always find stuff here I adore. (2500 SE Hawthorne)
More Places You Should Definitely Check Out:
Red Light Clothing Exchange (3590 SE Hawthorne) Of course.
Village Merchants (4035 SE Division) A real mish-mash of all types of stuff, including clothes, rugs, paintings, and even garden supplies.
Monticello Antique Marketplace (8600 SE Stark) Lots of vendor booths, interesting selection, and friendly staff.
Rerun & Rerun2 (707 NE Fremont; 6940 NE Sandy) Read about these great shops here.
Magpie (1960 SE Hawthorne) The best place for ’70s era clothing. Period.
Red Fox Vintage (4528 SE Woodstock) The vibe is very much like Red Light, with the addition of super interesting vintage doodads.