Using data sourced from Yelp, Joybird determined that Pittsburgh was the seventh-best U.S. city for thrift shopping based on a variety of factors measuring the number of places to shop and the quality of the thrifting experience. The latter was based on the average cost for items and the Yelp reviews and star ratings of various area thrift stores, flea markets, and donation centers for clothing and home goods.
This ranking was based on a survey of 50 cities across the country. Other cities that cracked the top 10 include Columbus, Ohio, Orlando and Tampa, Fla., and Atlanta, Ga., with Riverside, Calif. taking the top spot.
Pittsburgh was the only Pennsylvania city in the top 10, with Philadelphia coming in at 43.
The results shouldn’t be too surprising considering how many places and events in the city cater to thrifters (and, based on this Pittsburgh City Paper Thrift Shop Day article, how many people here enjoy thrifting.)
Besides Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Red White and Blue stores, Pittsburgh boasts places like Avalon Exchange and the Buffalo Exchange, where shoppers can buy, sell, and trade clothing, shoes, and accessories. Other notable thrift boutiques include Eons Fashion Antique in Shadyside, Three Rivers Vintage in the South Side, and Clothes Minded in Bloomfield.
At the University of Pittsburgh, the student-run thrift store Thriftsburgh offers affordable options to cash-strapped students while promoting the environmental benefits of buying second-hand, as the fashion industry — particularly so-called fast-fashion companies like Old Navy and H&M — contributes to worldwide pollution. (In 2018, the United Nations Environment Programme cited the mass production of clothing as a major contributor to global carbon emissions and water contamination.)
There are also plenty of thrift-related events that go on throughout the year, including the Neighborhood Flea, the Pittsburgh Pickers Vintage Market, and the upcoming Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer on Sat., Nov. 9, where, this year, dozens of vendors will gather to sell curated vintage and second-hand clothes, vinyl, housewares, and more at Nova Place in the North Side.
CP readers even voted Thrifty Podcast, a weekly show about second-hand shopping, as the Best Local Podcast for the 2019 Best Of issue.
Kate Colussy, owner of Highway Robbery Vintage in the South Side, believes that the combination of multi-generational Pittsburgh families and the city's college scene "really help the vintage scene thrive," and that it will only get better.
"The midwest is full of great vintage and Pittsburgh is certainly no exception," says Colussy. "People here often hang on to their family homes and the clothes in them for several generations. ... In my almost ten years of owning a vintage shop here, I've seen the community grow stronger as time passes."