Photo via Jessica Griffin / The Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Philadelphia is fast becoming known for its great variety of vintage shopping options and expertise.
With stores that focus on sustainable goods, donations, or rare finds, there’s something for every flavor of vintage enthusiast, or if you just want to dip your toe into the thrifting waters.
Though the term “vintage” usually refers to items 20 years or older, you’ll see everything from Victorian jewelry to Juicy Couture sweatsuits at Philly’s best shops.“
Coming Soon: You’ve probably run into curator Bridget Tyrrell at markets or during her time at Retrospect. Now, she’s taking her collection to her own brick and mortar (in the space previously occupied by beloved South Street staple Noise Pollution Records) and she has big plans. The shop will operate as a community space, with a beautiful back patio for markets and events, and a sunny, spacious shop for racks of funky gowns, housecoats, and random housewares and accessories. Having attended fleas for six years, Tyrrell is keeping an eye out for a variety of sizing, and styling but has a special place in her heart for the colors and fabrics of the ‘60s and ‘70s. As for moving into a neighborhood that’s fast becoming the spot for vintage shopping in Philadelphia, Tyrrell, who’s been collecting for six years, says there’s enough room for everyone. “With vintage, no two items are the same,” she says, indicating that vintage lovers will find something unique in every shop down Fourth Street.
Not specifically a vintage shop, Moon + Arrow features a rotating set of vintage curators on a monthly basis. Past partners have included the very 60s Allyhoot Vintage and kitsch BigTop Vintage (which just opened their own shop in Port Richmond), upcoming partners include Savor Collective. When it comes to the partners, Moon + Arrow doesn’t look for a specific style, instead, it opts for partners who have very curated vintage items for mid-range prices.
The bookend of the growing fabric row vintage corridor, this jewel box of a shop feels like a trip to the 70s from the moment you step in, with a handful of racks of colorful dresses, robes, pajamas, lingerie, polyester button-downs, and a variety of home goods, like sequined peacock framed wall art and barware sets in rainbow-shaded glass. The rack of western boots is a special touch, and even though merchandise rotates frequently, there always seems to be a few turquoise-laden bolo ties. They also feature a few local non-vintage makers, and a small selection of vintage vinyl right near the front door.
Raxx brings a distinctly grunge feel to South Street’s thrifting corridor. There’s every type of denim you could possibly need, from jackets to shorts to miniskirts and, of course, jeans, hanging from the racks here, next to flannels, college sweatshirts, and varsity jackets, plus an array of leather belts and clunky silver belt buckles to top it all off. Though you can find items as low as $30, there are also some rarities, like original vintage sports team jackets or designer sweaters, that cost more than $100. Check in often for stock in the plus-size section and to look over the selection of patches, stickers, buttons, and other accessories.
Many people in Philly have a Retrospect story that involves shopping there as a teen and solidifying their love for thrift. Who can blame them? You can find everything at this South Street tentpole store, from ‘60s sleeveless tops to ‘80s band tees and random home goods with a funky retro vibe. Organized by color, the shop is only slightly curated, making for that real treasure hunt feel when you find the item you’ve been searching for. While the furniture is on the expensive side — with lamps, chairs and barware in the $100-plus range — the clothing is priced to fly off the racks. A favorite? An oft-rotating section of sleeveless tanks priced from $12 to $20. Come back often for the changing inventory, and check their Etsy shop for furniture too large to fit in the brick and mortar. And everything over a month old is 50% off.
Coming Soon: You might know this collection of turn-of-the-century-to-2000s vintage from their former location at Cuttalossa & Co. Now, owner Haley Pelton is poised to take over the old Merrygold Shop location in Bella Vista to showcase her assemblage of Comme des Garcons, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Calvin Klein. And even though her showroom is loosely based on couture designer studios, you can find items for as low as $40. The new shop soft opens on May 20 and officially opens its doors on June 24.
A list of vintage in this city would not be complete without mentioning Philly AIDS Thrift, although this store is an outlier in almost every way. There is no curation of the clothing, furniture, and electronics packed into two floors, and era, size, and history is likely a mystery as well. And though prices are really on the pendulum, you will certainly find the odd unexpected designer item, particularly in the second floor “vintage” room. A trip here is a true scavenger hunt. If you’re looking to donate, check the website first to see if your drop-off is accepted before dragging garbage bags of clothes to their front door.
Right next to Philly AIDS Thrift you’ll find an impressive collection of rare and special edition tees, sweatshirts, and windbreakers. Suplex specializes in sports, music, and culture, with items starring iconic TV shows, NASCAR heroes, and even wrestling greats. These are not your standard cheap tees, be prepared to look at special editions worth $100 or more — though you can find some band T-shirts in the $50 range.