Thrift Town in Oak Cliff has one of the most welcoming atmospheres of any vintage store, plus a huge selection of shoes for your inner (and outer) drag queen.

A picker’s guide to finding fresh fashion in Dallas’ best thrift stores

ELAINE LINER  |  Special Contributor
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There it was: Jammed among a row of used jeans, a long blue silk skirt folded into tiny, stretchy pleats. A peek at the waistband tag revealed its provenance: Mary McFadden Couture, vintage 1980s, when McFadden’s luxe Fortuny-style fabrics draped the bods of starlets and society doyennes. How this treasure found its way to Family Thrift Center Outlet in Plano may be a mystery, but the price was a miracle: $2. (It was Thursday, when every item at this store is two bucks.) A quick check of “comps,” as thrifters call comparable items being sold online, showed McFaddens going for $200 to $500. Be still, my thrifting heart.

Poshmark, The Real Real, Tradesy, Mercari — these and other online selling platforms now compete with eBay as places to resell clothes, jewelry, bags and shoes. Whether as a hobby, or as a career (some sellers earn six-figure incomes), peddling fashionable finds means hitting resale and consignment stores regularly (plus garage and estate sales, and Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace listings), looking for things somebody will buy for less than retail, but for more than the picker paid for it.

Whether you’re a reseller or just a bargain-hungry shopper with a taste for upscale labels on a downsized budget, you need to find the “honey holes,” what pickers call favorite spots for high quality used and donated goods. There’s a bunch of sweet places with low prices in and around Dallas.

Genesis Benefit Thrift Store (3419 Knight St.) benefits from its location in the heart of Oak Lawn on the edge of Highland Park. Regulars hit this shop daily to snag top-label jeans ($8.99–$24.99), gently used Ugg boots ($9.99), beautifully framed art prints ($9.99–up) and high-end furniture, rugs and chandeliers (a gigantic crystal one was recently priced at $50). Lurk outside at the donation area to nab deals as the swells drive up in Lamborghinis to drop off donations (we’ve seen it).

Out of the Closet (3920 Cedar Springs Road) sells donated, heavily discounted secondhand clothing, shoes, housewares and furniture in support of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, with 96 cents from every dollar in sales going to the nonprofit’s HIV/AIDS programs and services. Let the good vibes factor into purchases because prices here aren’t picker-friendly; more like consignment store levels. Recently browsed: new-looking men’s Cole Haan suede saddle oxfords ($25), an overstuffed armchair upholstered in a Warhol-flower-style print ($150) and pre-loved graphic tees and starched button-downs marked for quick sale to $1 and $2.

Thrift Town (1516 S. Westmoreland Road at Illinois) is the Oak Cliff outpost of a California chain that offers generous coupons ($15 off a $30 purchase) and the most welcoming atmo of all the thrifts. Good a/c and a lively rotation of Motown hits keep things fun, even when checkout lines grow long. What will you find? Artfully distressed jeans with good labels ($5–10), a huge selection of graphic tees ($1–10) and groovy vintage items like Gunne Sax prom dresses and trendy-again denim overalls. The best shoes are locked in a case up front, but friendly clerks will happily get them out for try-ons, meaning you can leave this honey hole looking well-heeled without tapping out your budget.

Thrift Giant (3039 W. Northwest Highway) is a locally owned company with half a dozen locations. The newest one in northeast Dallas on Northwest Highway (go figure) is tops for bargains on clothes. Neatly organized by sizes, Thrift Giant offers frequent half-off and by-the-pound sales, and discounts everything 25 percent for seniors on Tuesdays. Found here recently: Josie Natori silk pajamas ($5), a rack of NWT (new with tags) LuLaRoe skirts ($3.99 each), on-trend vintage straw handbags ($6) and lots of sparkly six-inch eff-me platform heels for less than 10 bucks and in drag-worthy sizes (12 and up).

Two-dollar day is the priciest it gets at Family Thrift Center Outlet (2430 K Ave., Plano). Thursdays are “new stuff” day when everything is a flat $2. After that, prices descend daily till the following Wednesday when everything left from the previous week’s haul is sold for a quarter apiece till doors close for restocking at 11:30 a.m. (Get there early to beat the crowds.) Nothing’s organized by size or style, but in the jumble of “Just do it for Jesus” T-shirts and hospital scrubs, you can find Miss Me jeans (big sellers on Poshmark), Coogi jeans and dresses, Betsey Johnson purses, Sperry topsiders, Patagonia jackets, Lululemon yoga pants and Dansko clogs, all in what resellers call EUC (for “excellent used condition”). On a recent 50-cent Tuesday, there was a rack of handsewn Indian saris next to a row of Halloween costumes. A clothing crapshoot.

Two blocks south is The Thrift Store (1806 K Ave., Plano), packed and stacked with old and new men’s and women’s clothes, shoes, bags and household goods like lamps, dishes and framed art prints. Prices can range from 99 cents for a still-crisp Brooks Brothers button-down to $15 for a vintage leather Coach crossbody laptop bag that originally sold for 20 times that. Among recent finds here: Balenciaga Couture women’s jacket with delicate handsewn stitches ($8); nearly-new Cole Haan patent leather women’s loafers ($3); and an Italian-made Missoni men’s sweater ($12.99). Shop weekdays to avoid pushy weekend pickers.

Urban Thrift (19 W. Kingsley Road, Garland) recently upped stakes from Lake Highlands to Garland and they’re still refilling stock. But on a Saturday last month, there was a shelf of just-donated early Kate Spade “Sam” bags ($10–15), a couple of big Vera Bradley totes ($5–15) and enough still-nice tweed men’s jackets for under $10 to outfit a dozen productions of My Fair Lady. (Local theater costumers haunt thrift stores to dress actors on the cheap.) Oddities show up here now and again, like vintage roller derby skates and military uniforms.

Casa View Thrift (2303 Gus Thomasson Road) may look dreary from the outside, but inside, treasures abound, like an all-silk white pleated negligee ($5) with a Marilyn Monroe flair, and hanger after hanger of 1960s and ’70s slinky full slips for two and three bucks. (Tons of shoes here, too, but mostly down-market brands, not EUC.) On hooks on the wall, however, hang top-name handbags, including Coach, Kate Spade, Aigner, Fossil and sometimes the elusive and desirable Dooneys, most priced in the $20 range.

Second Chance Thrift (3160 Saturn Road, Garland) is a dusty but glorious cave of other people’s discards. Atop of every row of clothing racks scores of shoes lie toes up, tossed this way and that. Take time to paw through to strike gold, like not-quite-worn-out Louboutin sandals for $3 and Paris-made LaCroix leather mules for $3.99. Handbags in a back corner recently included some darn cute 1960s-era Mexican straw totes dangling among lesser designer knockoffs.

How can you pick out a picker? They’re always checking labels and prices on their phones as they shop.