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The Unlikely: 4 of the Best Thrift Shops in San Diego

There’s $30 left in your bank account but you need a sweet new shirt for your hot date next week.

With just $20, you can grab a shirt, throw in a pair of pants and snatch a pair of shoes, all for less than a shirt from a mainstream, name brand shop. I guarantee it. These five thrifted and vintage emporiums are all located within the San Diego area and are a must-add stop to any thrifter’s routes.

1. Amvets (3441 Sutherland Street)

In a large warehouse off Pacific Highway sits a diamond in the rough, and one of just two Team Amvets locations in San Diego. With daily deals ranging from 20 to 75 percent off, this should be the first stop on any thrifters route.

“Since the store carries so many options and organizes them, it becomes quite easy to search through the clothes,” said PLNU freshman Connor Raiger, who frequents Amvets. “The prices are also usually quite cheap and fair. I prefer it over others because of the size, mainly. I’m able to find more things at one place and conserve many trips to other places”.

Another plus to shopping on Sutherland street is their ethical impact. According to their website, “Thrift store revenues assist California veterans and their families in your neighborhood.” So, if you’re looking to shop with local impact, then this is your choice.

Be mindful though, there aren’t any changing rooms, so get great at knowing your sizes.

2. Frock You Vintage Clothing (4121 Park Boulevard)

Now this is a hard one to pass up. Drive just 15 minutes from campus up to Hillcrest and you’ll find this trendy trader. Frock You stocks vintage pieces, jewelry and accessories ranging from decades from the 1920s all the way up to the 1980s. With friendly staff that offer to help you put looks together, and push their love for community, you experience a true “small-town” atmosphere just by walking in.

In terms of the items, you’re bound to find everything from basic pieces to vogueish wear. They have racks and racks of unique pieces from every era, spilling from their small store back into their patio. According to their website, “The shop thrives itself on its passion for fashion, history and the need for recycling.”

3. Captain Helms (1832 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside)

A bit more of a hike from the city lies this Southern California treasure. With retro green letters and black and white stripes on the outside of the building, any passerby is bound to be drawn in by its unique look.

Captain Helms operates on a buy-sell-trade basis, meaning anyone can bring in their new, gently used or vintage clothing and they’ll take items that work for the customer based on season, demand and inventory levels. Stocked with groovy vintage pieces and gently used items alike, this is a vintage lover’s paradise.

Senior business major and YouTube personality Elena Taber said, “There’s also a rad coffee shop connected to it so you can sip as you shop which I’m definitely a huge fan of.”

Captain Helms is one of Taber’s favorite indulgences. “It’s a bit pricier than thrifting but their selection is so great that I can never walk out empty handed,” said Taber.

4. Salvation Army (3240 Sports Arena Blvd, San Diego)

Only four miles away, right by In-N-Out, lies many PLNU students’ thrift store of choice. A hot spot for themed dances and parties, Salvation Army is constantly rotating items and posting daily deals. Golden Cherry, PLNU’s very own thrift-store Instagram page, frequents this location often.

Irene Bell, one of three ladies who run the account, said, “It’s really cheap and has sales on certain days. Some days we get lucky and some days we find nothing, but that makes it fun.”

While the store is smaller than some other locations and the racks are pretty unorganized, you can’t beat the classics you’ll find. Go in expecting to search and scratch through all the sections and find a ‘golden nugget’ or two. There’s often pairs of Levi’s wedged in between racks and retro sweaters and jackets lining the stands.


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Hannah-Rae Ernst

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