There’s a fine line between thrift and vintage. And while I may not know the difference, I do know the Web has made finding both as simple as one-click purchasing from Amazon or navigating to your favorite online retailer. I mean, where else are you going to score a toaster, a new work outfit, and a VHS copy of the Titanic for under $10 without ever stepping foot outside your front door? Online thrift stores are bringing an age-old budget tradition into the digital realm. Simply add an item to the cart, punch in your credit card number and choose your shipping address.
Many fluctuate in price depending on the item and other factors such as condition, location and availability, but you can typically find full-price items for far cheaper than what you would normally. That’s not always the case — some vintage items tend to run in the upper echelon of used goods — but you can pretty much find anything for an affordable price with a wee bit of scouring and a little bit of patience.
Here are our top picks for the best online thrift stores for all your thrifting needs. You probably won’t get the same satisfaction you would from navigating the toaster-crammed isles of your local thrift shop, but the satisfaction of a good deal is often more than enough.
Goodwill has long been the premiere thrift shop of choice for those with a conscious. Created by the Goodwill folks of Orange County, shopgoodwill.com is a robust online auction site more akin to eBay than the traditional store counterpart we all know and love. The site hosts a wide array of items, from decrepit instruments and gaudy china to that one-of-a-kind polyester suit you’ve been trying to think of a practical use for, and features simple filtering options and search tools for better fine tuning your results by collectibles, tools, electronics and a swath of other common groups. The “Hot 50 Items” is also always worth a look.
The site is a curated collection of items from Goodwill stores across the country — it doesn’t include everything available in store — with all proceeds going toward the non-profit’s education, training, job placement and other mission-driven community programs for those with disabilities and other barriers. Although photos of each item were something of a novelty in the site’s youth, most listings now sport at least one photo showing off the product in question, however shoddy it might be. Users need to register for a account before bidding, but it’s entirely free and items will be shipped to your address upon payment completion.
Not as much “thrifty” as it is vintage, Modcloth is a site specifically tailored for the female secondhand fashionista with some cash to spare. It does offer new and retro-leaning clothing, but it also houses a versatile collection of used goods, from vintage candle holders and boating hats to whiskey glasses and even wedding dresses. Unlike other online thrift retailers though, Modcloth actually goes out of its way to provide detailed descriptions of its products, complete with measurements, item conditions and borderline-vivid backstory that attempts to explain the item’s history and how exactly it will fit into your life. For instance, “style ambassadors worldwide are sure to swoon over this after this ceramic souvenir mug” reads one such description. However, I sincerely doubt that many people are actually swooning over the item — it’s a damn pelican mug.
Users can search for items and filter results by popular categories such as shoes, dresses and sale, as well as search for specific items in the search bar in the upper-right hand corner of the page. The site doesn’t update what’s sold as quickly as it probably could, and it can certainly be a bit costly depending on what you’re looking for, but it’s still a great online option for those who would prefer browsing with an open mind over searching for something specific.
Let’s be honest, eBay is not a site in need of an introduction. As the Web’s flagship auction house, the site has offered a wide array of used goods for as long as anyone has been making purchases on the Web. Although the does offer new items and prices differ drastically depending on what you’re looking for, the site also boasts the largest selection of used items on the planet, whether you’re looking for simple cookware, an antique Victorian dresser or hand-made scale mail for your guinea pig (yes, you heard that right). Category filters are as extensive and thorough as it gets for an online retail site, with broad, overarching categories that can be narrowly channeled depending on the the item. For instance, you can go from sporting goods, to cycling, to bicycle frames before filtering the results by configuration, brand, and gender.
Despite being one of the most popular, eBay is also the one most associated with scam and fraud. The site facilitates and sets up purchases rather than selling direct, meaning users are not buying directly from a respectable online outlet like Modcloth or the Goodwill. It’s still one of the most recognizable and capable online thrift stores out there though, offering anything you might desire at varying bid prices and the instant “buy it now” price for those who don’t want to wait.
And you thought Etsy was for just picking up handmade narwhal toys and recycled skateboard clocks. While it’s true that the site may be more orientated for the crafty type, it offers a healthy dose of vintage products, whether you’re looking to track that ’80s bomber jacket or just perusing for back issues of National Geographic and Reader’s Digest. Prices are fairly affordable, similar to a higher-priced thrift store, but they depend on the shop owner selling the item and the current going rate. Like other online thrift sites, Etsy sellers typically provide a thorough description of the item (condition, size, etc.) and a few photos of product. Shipping rates are always on display as well and you can always follow the page link to contact the respective shop owner if you have any questions or need further assistance.
Users can access the vintage portion of the site below by selecting “vintage” from the browsing categories or typing it in the intuitive search bar. Results, which are often overly abundant on Etsy, can then be even more refined by clothing, housewares, cameras, and a slew of other common categories to make navigation and browsing a breeze. There is the occasional bottom-of-the-barrel item here and there, but shop owners stand by their products nonetheless. Also, who else has a dedicated category solely for porcelain figurines?
Like eBay, Amazon is pretty much a no-brainer. It doesn’t offer the kind of basic browsing you might find in an offline store, but it’s a great spot to check out if you’re looking for a something specific. Many retail items on the site will show Amazon’s price alongside those from individual sellers, offering discounted pricing on both used and new versions of the product alike. For instance, while looking at the Kurt Vonnegut’s classic Slaughterhouse-Five — one of the quintessential thrift store finds — there are, on average, 200 given listings priced $4 and up opposed to Amazon’s price of $10. The site may not offer used versions of all products, but there is a good chance you can snag a deal on that three-speed blender or bookcase with a little bit of snooping.
It isn’t the go-to spot for dirt-cheap pricing, but it hosts a wide arsenal of used products you can purchase at different prices depending on their condition and availability. Obviously if the market for a particular good is flooded on Amazon, you’ll be able to pick up a used copy for far cheaper. Navigate the site as you would normally when searching for a product, and if available, the number of used copies available from sellers will be displayed on the product page.
There is salmagundi of online thrift and consignment sites available at your fingertips, though they don’t tote the kind of inventory or great feature set our top five picks do. They might not be the best available, but they’re still worth checking out if you can’t find what you’re looking for on the usual secondhand avenues. Check out a few of the more popular ones listed below.
What do you think of our picks for the best online thrift stores? Do you have a better recommendation for the best place to score some new secondhand swag? Let us know in the comments below.