While Las Vegas is known for high-end retail and the fickle heart of Lady Luck, the Valley’s thrift shopping can be anything but a gamble. A lot has changed since secondhand experienced its first resurgence in the form of rock tees and ripped jeans. Some area stores now offer an über-vetted selection of fashions that can make even impatient bargain hunters walk away feeling like there was hardly a chase at all.
Yet, sometimes shopping is all about the hunt. Those who thrift on the regular will tell you that the gratification of scoring a hard-won, one-of-a-kind is difficult to put a price tag on, though when that tag reads $10, it’s even better. With this guide, we do the legwork to help you discover six thrifty spots that will satiate your craving for adventure and fashion, not to mention your bottom line.
Tried and True
- Thrifting Las Vegas
- 5 tips from a budget fashionista
Savers (Best for stylish and beyond inexpensive women’s tops)
It’s rare to find a store that is literally impossible to walk out of without buying something. If you’re sincere in your clothing quest, that store is Savers. With the largest selection of adorable women’s tops anywhere, the real challenge is containing your purchases to one cart. Savers also has the classic thrift store hodgepodge of kitchenware and home furnishings, but the clothes are the real find. Although you’ll have to look longer than you might at a higher-end shop like Buffalo Exchange, the prices here are astounding. And we’re not just talking about dainty office-wear: think safety-orange trench coats and lumberjack-plaid blouses, items that will prompt serious compliments. Various locations.
Buffalo Exchange (Best for unique fashions and complex costumes for guys and girls)
Deciding what to wear can be nerve-wracking, but it’s weird to feel this way before you go shopping. Buffalo Exchange, with its hipster chic staff and ever-rotating stock, can sometimes make your inner dork cringe. This is especially true if you’re trying to sell something. The reality is, though, it’s all in your head: The employees are nice and usually willing to pick up your (very) gently used duds for a good price (or an even better rate for exchange, if you’ll take store credit). This is helpful in offsetting the cost of what you’ll certainly be inclined to take home. Buffalo has some of the most fashionable and seasonally appropriate clothes among area thrift shops, including rare costume finds (a steampunk corset and parasol, really?). The only downside can be the price. Far from a Valley secret, Buffalo knows they’re a top stop for the apparel conscious, and they price accordingly. That said, the cost is still much better than first-time retail, and the stock is pretty close to new. Plus, the threads at Buffalo are hand-selected by fashion-forward kids who know what they’re doing. 4110 S. Maryland Parkway, 791-3960.
New Kids On The Block
Better Than New (Best for club gear and colorful sunglasses)
The newish Downtown shop Better Than New calls itself a lifestyle boutique, “because it’s not just a trend; it’s a lifestyle.” But if you don’t feel like fashion is quite the lifestyle for you, never fear. Better Than New has a friendly staff and vends a sparse collection of vintage clothes at the back of their adorable storefront (featuring an amazing logo). Most of their Main Street floor space is dedicated to club apparel and costume accessories, like striped thigh-highs, gold lamé booty shorts and colorful wristbands. Their best stock by far is the collection of sunglasses in every color of the rainbow, including an aqua pair with a retro shape to suit Ms. Hepburn. Despite the name, most things at Better Than New are pretty much new and aesthetically very contemporary. 1216 S. Main St., 471-6236.
Electric Lemonade (Best for all things vintage for men and women)
There’s nothing radioactive (or alcoholic) about this new Downtown store on Charleston Boulevard. In fact, you’ll likely be the only thing glowing when you step out of Electric Lemonade. Featuring up-and-coming designers, artisan-made jewelry, and vintage clothing, shoes and accessories, this shop is more boutique chic than thrift kitsch. The carefully-designed storefront displays portend the experience inside. Vintage clothing lines the walls with polished boots beckoning from overhead as gentle French electronic music reminiscent of Stereolab plays in the background. The store is small, but fans of the vintage look will find Electric Lemonade’s tea-length dresses and cool boots are reason enough to check it out. 220 E. Charleston Blvd., 776-7766.
Don’t Forget …
Mustang Xchange (Best for memorable fashion jewelry and menswear)
With Buffalo down the street, Mustang Xchange can seem like the ugly stepsister, but it’s far from it. The floor is smaller, meaning items are sometimes smashed together, but Mustang outruns Buffalo in a few areas, the most obvious being their inexpensive and unique jewelry selection. In jewelry cases and displays, ogle such finds as oversized pearl chokers in daring colors like lime green and mustard yellow. Another area Mustang excels in is the oft-neglected world of men’s fashion. Guys like to look good, too, and the men’s section here boasts sleek, nearly new items like low-profile Italian shoes for just $15. A bargain that doesn’t look like one? That’s what thrifting is all about. 4800 S. Maryland Parkway, 605-6898.
Plato’s Closet (Best for quick-find athletic gear and handbags)
With its Top 40 soundtrack, Plato’s Closet can feel more like a chain retailer than other area thrift shops, but employees are super helpful, and you can pick up some pristine pieces here. Plato’s does the ordinary with flair. Think staples: a newer-looking Adidas jacket for a pittance (seriously $3!) or a fitted hoodie in periwinkle blue. For more formal occasions, Plato’s color-coded purse selection is hard to beat, ranging in shades from electric blue and ox-blood brown to black, with sparkly clutches sitting on hard-to-miss end caps. A plus to the chain-retail vibe is the store’s organization, making Plato’s the perfect place to shop when you don’t have a lot of time to dig but still want to save big. 605 Mall Ring Circle, Henderson, 547-4942.
Four more finds
Retro Vegas has flawless and authentic retro home furnishings, like cut-glass ashtrays and globe lamps fit for the set of Mad Men. The store’s new digs (a few doors down from the old digs) mean even more space for vintage goodness. 1131 S. Main St., 384-2700.
Calo Style offers unique vintage clothes for the pinup girl (and guy) in us all. 6665 S. Eastern Ave., Booth #2, 281-7775.
The Gypsy Den isn’t just for First Friday. Their tiny but magnificent collection of timeless tees and tops are not to be trifled with. 213 E. Colorado Ave., 684-1628.
There are Salvation Army Stores in Las Vegas with charming vintage and consignment shops attached. Try the locations at: 4001 W. Charleston Blvd., 878-8022 and 360 N. Stephanie St., Henderson, 436-3100.
This story first appeared in Sun sister publication Las Vegas Weekly.