A Guide to Buying Used in Los Angeles

I live in one of the most glamorous cities in the world. Personal grooming is a moral imperative; million dollar houses are commonplace; there’s a C-list celebrity in every Starbucks. I’m sure it’s a great place to live if you’re rich, but, then, what place isn’t? I’m here to tell you, though, in the used goods department, the trickle down theory really holds water. For the thrifty 99%-er, L.A. is a bottom feeder’s paradise.

First of all, the yard sales are nearly year-round, and if you target wealthy neighborhoods, totally worth your while. (A barely used breadmaker for $5? A metal colander for a buck? I’m all over it.) If you don’t enjoy poring over a stranger’s belongings spread out on their lawn on a blanket, that’s okay. The thrift stores are also quite good. I’m going to break it down for you.

Clothing

There are numerous places to buy used designer clothes in L.A. at a fraction of the original cost, such as the AdDress boutique in Santa Monica and 3020 Designer Resale in Brentwood. There are also several fashionable used chains such as Wasteland which cater to a younger demographic. But my dead favorite place to buy clothes is It’s A Wrap, with one location on the west side and one in Burbank.  These clothes are all barely used (sometimes not even worn once!) and hail from shows and studios around town. I have purchased many a pair of Bebe and Theory pants and one murderously awesome Nanette Lepore blazer (——>) from this store, usually at about 50 – 75% off the original price. (The blazer was $15! Why am I not wearing it right now? Don’t know, and seems like a bad call.) The selection is great if you’re on the small side, but they do often have plus-size stuff as well. And if you’re the kind of person who gets a kick out of wearing a scarf that was featured on a Law and Order episode or a shirt from That 70s Show, that’s a little fun bonus for you.

If you’re on a really tight budget, It’s a Wrap does have a rack outside both their stores which features items around $10 (and sometimes less), and you could probably throw together a decent outfit for $15 or $20 on a good day. (I have a jacket from there which I got for $6 which I wear quite a bit.) All the Out of The Closets I’ve ever been to also had very wearable used clothing sections that are quite inexpensive. Also the Salvation Army boutique in Santa Monica (with a regular Salvation Army next door) also features high-end clothing in excellent shape at reasonable prices. Especially good if you need some stuff for work but don’t feel like blowing your whole budget.

Furniture

Especially if you like vintage stuff, the two best used furniture places on the west side are easily Wertz Brothers and Pepe’s. Pepe’s is particularly good in terms of customer service, and they just seem like super nice people. Wertz Brothers is massive, their prices are good, and they have both contemporary and vintage items. If you’re looking for something really contemporary and specific, like a Pottery Barn couch that you can’t quite afford but you really dig, you can continually check craigslist and one will eventually turn up — that’s the magic of living in a big city.

If you’re willing to travel south a little Studio Antiques in El Segundo is also pretty great, as is Street Faire Antiques in Torrance, which is where I bought my beloved dresser. They also sponsor a monthly street fair with antique dealers from all over, which is a good size and a lot easier to deal with than that flea market at the Rose Bowl.

Miscellaneous

There are several National Council of Jewish Women’s Thrift Stores in L.A. which I think are generally overpriced, though they are well-organized and tidy, which I appreciate. I hear occasional stories of some good deal had in the clothing department, but they skew pretty old ladyish, if you ask me. However, in the plus column, if you’re out for dishes or knick-knacks, it’s not a bad place. They do have decent vintage furniture sometimes. Also, because it’s not exactly run by hipsters, you can occasionally find something on the cheap that they simply don’t realize would be valuable in another setting, such as my matching mid-century lamps with shades, which I got for $25 apiece (<——-that’s one of ’em). I saw a very cheap mission style chair there recently which I fervently hope went to a good home.

For general household items, I’ll generally go to any Out of the Closet, has many stores throughout southern California. If you need something to hang on the wall, a teapot, or a lamp, you’ve got a good chance of finding one at a reasonable price.

Good luck out there, fellow shoppers!

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