Atlanta's best resale stores: secondhand shopping for first-timers

Shop 'til you drop — but just don't drop a fortune. For label-loving fashionistas, gently used clothing is the answer to scoring designer brands and striking ensembles at bargain prices. With spring cleaning underway -- discarded apparel, shoes, purses and jewelry in good condition will find an afterlife in Atlanta's vintage stores, where formerly pricey fashion labels are available for less.

Secondhand shopping can be daunting for first-timers, so look to this roundup of local re-sale, vintage and thrift stores for guidance.

Buffalo Exchange Where: 1057 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE; Midtown The rundown: Opened in 2012 in Poncey-Highland, Buffalo Exchange practices a "style over brand" approach with its merchandise, which includes men's and women's clothing, outerwear, shoes, hats and accessories — all in excellent condition. If the name sounds familiar it's because the resale shop is a chain with locations across the country. At Buffalo Exchange, nearly 85 percent of inventory comes from public sellers, and the rest of the merchandise is brand new from vendors (but at a much lower cost than at traditional retailers). Many items can be returned within five days, excluding "final sale" specials.

Price range: As low as $7-$8 and up to $100+ for leather goods.

Vibe: Trendy.

Brands: J. Crew, Madewell, Anthropologie, and familiar boldface name apparel from shops like Neiman Marcus, Barneys, Elizabeth and James, as well as unique '60s-'70s vintage items that match today's trends.

Don't be surprised to find: Vintage Louis Vuitton suitcases, Adidas Yeezy Boosts, vintage sterling silver jewelry and Southwest jewelry.

Tips: BYOB, as in Bring You Own Bag. Buffalo Exchange is a green store that encourages its customers to donate to local charities with its Tokens for Bags program. Guests receive tokens valued at 5 cents that they can give to one of the store's sponsored charities on a donation wall. Optimal times are Friday and Saturday, when many sellers unload their clothes and the turnaround time for newly stocked items is under an hour.

Crystal Fowler wears a mint trench coat from Rag-O-Rama in Little Five Points with a silk navy blue shirt from Papaya and slacks from Macy's. Fowler accessorizes with hoop earrings and a dome ring from a flea market.
Crystal Fowler wears a mint trench coat from Rag-O-Rama in Little Five Points with a silk navy blue shirt from Papaya and slacks from Macy's. Fowler accessorizes with hoop earrings and a dome ring from a flea market.

Credit: Alison Church

Credit: Alison Church


Where: 1111 Euclid Ave. NE, Atlanta, Little Five Points; 6500 Roswell RD NE, Sandy Springs

The rundown: A favorite among hipsters — naturally, the first Atlanta location is in L5P — Rag-o-Rama specializes in men's and women's gently used vintage and contemporary apparel. The buy-sell-trade store's mixed bag inventory includes casual wear, like edgy pop culture T-shirts, tops and shorts, and some items that blur the lines between costume (perfect for theme parties) and '80s kitsch.

Price range: $15-$20

Vibe: Hipster/edgy.

Brands: Levi's, Ann Taylor, Umbro, Betsey Johnson, Polo, Gap and manufacturers found in Urban Outfitters.

Don't be surprised to find: Alexander Wang and boldface name accessories from Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton.

Tip: BYOB, Bring Your Own Bag. Like Buffalo Exchange, guests receive tokens valued at 5 cents that they can give to one of the store's sponsored charities in lieu of paper or plastic.

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Labels Resale Boutique

Where: 3202 Paces Ferry Place NW (main store); Buckhead

The Rundown: With brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Christian Louboutin and more upmarket designers, Labels is an apt name for this boutique that has several bungalow-style specialty shops lining Paces Ferry Place. Satellite stores focus on menswear, jewelry, shoes, dresses, and casuals and separates.

Price range: $15-$500+.

Vibe: Modern/chic.

Don't be surprised to find: Vintage Versace sunglasses, Alexander McQueen dresses, Louis Vuitton and Gucci bags, Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo heels, and Chanel earrings.

Tip: Unsold inventory is moved to the Labels Vinings outlet (4199 Paces Ferry Road SE), where prices are slashed even further.

Lucky Exchange

Where: 212 Ponce De Leon Ave. NE; Midtown

The rundown: Luck has everything to do with the bounty of vintage and vintage-inspired threads at this Midtown thrift shop. Authentic to the past, Lucky Exchange opts for timeless silhouettes like sheath dresses and wrap-skirts instead of retro kitsch.

Price range: $15.99-$99.99

Vibe: Authentic retro

Brands: Old favorites like Members Only to contemporary designers like Tori Burch and Prada.

Don't be surprised to find: Concert tour and '80s T-shirts, sequins, statement jewelry and a large selection of cowboy boots.

Tip: Check out Lucky Exchange's Facebook page for coupons and alerts on deals like BOGO (buy one, get one) dresses and clearance sales.

Psycho Sisters

Where: 428 Moreland Ave., Little Five Points

The rundown: Part costume shop, part vintage store, the independently owned (since 1993) gem in Little Five Points has two floors of used and new fashion.

Price range: $15-$65

Vibe: Kitschy casual wear

Brands: Betsey Johnson, Banana Republic, Gap and lesser-known, but unique labels.

Don't be surprised to find: Go-go boots, tutus, costume jewelry, tribute T-shirts and tie-dye shirts.

Tip: Visit the Psycho Sisters' website for coupons and monitor the store's Facebook page for more.

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Goodwill of North Georgia - Buckhead

Where: 3906 Roswell Road; Buckhead

The rundown: Shop for a good cause at Goodwill of North Georgia, Buckhead. The non-profit organization provides job-search resources and skills training to help put Georgians back to work. This location boasts large aisles and a variety of apparel options for men and women, particularly for suits, shoes and dress-to-impress job interview attire. Racks are restocked daily and every 21 days the sales floor is "refreshed."

Price: $2.50+

Vibe: Contemporary

Brands: Many current items from Gap, Kate Spade, Anne Klein, Dooney and Bourke, Brighton, Cole Haan and contemporary budget-friendly labels.

Don't be surprised to find: Lily Pulitzer, Juicy Couture and Anthropologie.

Tip: Weekends attract large crowds, so aim for weekdays. Seniors enjoy an extra discount on Tuesdays. Weeklong sales include 50 percent off items designated with a "color of the week" sticker, but the best finds are at the beginning of the week.

Salvation Army Thrift Store - Midtown

Where: 746 Marietta St. NW; Midtown

The rundown: Near Georgia Tech, this Salvation Army location has no shortage of Yellow Jacket gear for football fans. College students looking to de-clutter their dorm rooms unload gently used casual wear and shoes, as well as men and women's formal wear. As a bonus, your purchases go to a good cause. Best known for its Red Kettle Christmas campaign, the non-profit is a religious-affiliated organization that offers rehabilitation, prison ministry and veterans affairs services.

Price: $2.50+

Vibe: Contemporary

Don't be surprised to find: Low cost furniture (including $15 sofas), home goods and art.

Tip: Go early on Wednesdays to beat the crowd for 50 percent off specials.