Did you just spend five months quarantined in your childhood home watching TikTok? Feeling inspired to change up your style after hours of introspection? Want to look cute on the walk from your house on 41st Street to the pharmacy two blocks away? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Back to school season means back to the mall across America. And let’s be real, who doesn’t love a brand new pair of jeans? But there’s a darker reality to your new Air Force 1s or Zara sweater. The fast fashion industry is responsible for producing 20% of global wastewater, using large quantities of pesticides and fertilizers to grow textiles, and exploiting workers overseas. TL;DR: fast fashion is not cute. If you want to hop on the sustainable wave while stocking your closet with trendy items or decorating your room with new art, Philly’s thrift stores should be your first stop. Here’s Street’s roundup of four Philadelphia vintage shops.
Philly AIDS Thrift
710 S. 5th St
Philly AIDS Thrift is a staple of Philadelphia's thrifting scene and HIV/AIDS awareness community. They’ve donated over $2 million to local organizations fighting HIV and AIDS and offer free, drop–in HIV testing in their store. The two–story thrift shop is cavernous and enchanting. Each room has its own unique energy with racks upon racks of clothes, shoes, accessories, and household items. It's easy to get lost for hours among the bootcut jeans, cassette tapes, and rainbow christmas lights. Items are cheap and if you have twenty minutes to kill, you can find some goodies in the $1 bins.
What you can buy: donated clothes, shoes, accessories, furniture, household items
Experience: 10/10 – The building in and of itself is an adventure and the clothes are inexpensive and incredibly cool. The type of place you could go back to 20 times and never get bored of.
700 South St.
Greene Street stores sell “mid–to–high–end labels at a fraction of retail prices.” The South Street location is clean and airy and staffed with enthusiastic employees. Despite the enjoyable shopping experience, Greene Street really is your mother’s thrift store. Most of the clothes cater to an older audience and are at least two cycles behind on fashion trends. Greene Street’s consignment model allows them to carry some designer items for good prices, so if you keep your eyes peeled you might just find a gem. If you’re pressed for time on your next thrifting adventure though, I would skip it.
What you can buy: consigned designer items, men's and women's clothing
Experience: 4/10 – Nice staff and pleasant shopping experience but subpar clothes. I would recommend if you’re looking for business casual or going–out–to–dinner–with–someone's–parents outfits, but other than that, it was a miss.
The Raxx Vintage Emporium
534 South St
The Raxx Vintage Emporium occupies an airy, high–ceilinged storefront on South Street. Racks of clothes are sorted by color and vintage stickers and pins sit in immaculate wooden holders. The 1970s themed vintage store is a true blast–from–the–past with the trendiest tie–dye t–shirts and cutoff shorts in the city. The Raxx Vintage Emporium is pricier than a thrift shop given its highly–curated collection, but definitely worth the extra bucks if you’re looking for that one perfect item to add to your closet. If not, it's just worth the trip to peruse the racks and maybe pick up an old bumper sticker or pin.
What you can buy: vintage clothing, posters, stationary, jewelry
Experience: 9/10 – On the expensive side but the clothes are trendy and fun. Friendly staff, great layout, and interesting vintage finds. Worth a stop if you’re in the neighborhood for sure.
Jules Goldman Books and Antiques
29 N 2nd St
Two words: chaotic good. Jules Goldman Books and Antiques is an antique shop straight out of a romantic comedy set in the Italian countryside. The store is scattered with old photographs, postcards, art, and antiques. Walking through Jules Goldman is like staring into someone else’s family history. Many of the postcards are adorned with notes to loved ones, old family photographs and Christmas cards are slipped inside drawers, and art is stacked in piles all over the store. If you’re visiting Jules Goldman, make sure to leave time to sift through all the goods—but rest assured you’ll find something that's one–of–a–kind.
What you can buy: posters, framed and unframed art, antique house decor, postcards
Experience: 8.5/10 – If you want to really find the goods at Jules Goldman, you’re going to have to leave yourself at least an hour. Photos and paintings sit in large piles throughout the store and it takes some serious digging to find something that catches your eye. All in all, definitely worth the effort.