Best thrift stores in Ann Arbor Michigan

The 17 Best Thrift Stores in Ann Arbor, Michigan for Bargain Hunting!

Last Updated: October 19, 2023By

Thrifting has become an increasingly popular way to shop in recent years. More and more people are discovering the joys of hunting for bargains and hidden gems at secondhand stores.

Ann Arbor has a particularly robust thrifting scene, with over 17 different thrift and consignment stores scattered around the city. These shops offer everything from budget-friendly basics to rare vintage finds.

Whether you are looking to save money, find unique items, or simply enjoy a good treasure hunt, Ann Arbor’s thrift stores have got you covered as it has some of the best thrift stores in the Michigan, the Great Lakes State.

This article will dive into the many excellent resale options in Ann Arbor and offer tips for making the most of your thrifting adventures.

The Appeal of Shopping Secondhand in Ann Arbor

There are so many great reasons to consider thrifting and consignment shopping in Ann Arbor:

  • Save money: By shopping for pre-owned items, you can get far more for your dollar. Designer brands, quality fabrics, and stylish pieces can be purchased at a fraction of retail prices.
  • One-of-a-kind finds: Thrift stores are packed with unique vintage and antique items you won’t find anywhere else. From funky retro T-shirts to mid-century modern decor, the selection is always changing.
  • Environmental benefits: Buying secondhand reduces waste and the resources needed to manufacture new items. It’s greener to shop resale.
  • Support local causes: Many Ann Arbor thrift shops benefit charities, schools, shelters, and other community organizations. You get great deals while giving back.
  • The thrill of the hunt: Browsing the aisles never knowing what you might find is exciting. It feels like an adult treasure hunt.

Whether you are looking for specific items or just love the experience, Ann Arbor’s thrift stores have a lot to offer. Keep reading to discover some of the best spots to shop secondhand in this thrift-loving town.

Top Rated Thrift Stores in Ann Arbor Michigan

1. Kiwanis Thrift Sale

The Kiwanis Thrift Sale is one of Ann Arbor’s most popular thrifting events, drawing crowds from all over Michigan. Twice a year, the Ann Arbor Kiwanis Club turns the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds into a massive thrift market. The spring and fall sales last for several days and feature unbelievable selections across all categories:

  • Clothing: The clothing selection rivals department stores, from everyday basics to formalwear. Vintage, designer brands, and current styles are all on offer.
  • Furniture and housewares: Everything you need to furnish or decorate an entire home can be found here. From couches and dining sets to small appliances and glassware, the options are endless.
  • Toys and games: Families love the incredible toy and game selection. Puzzles, board games, dolls, action figures, and more make this a kid’s paradise.
  • Books and media: Bibliophiles flock to the book area spanning two airplane hangars. There are also movies, music, and new and vintage electronics.

The Kiwanis Thrift Sale stands out for its unbeatable variety and absurdly low prices. As a fundraiser for local charities, everything is priced to sell. With mindful buying, you can furnish a whole apartment for a couple of hundred dollars.

Kiwanis Thrift Sale Tips

To make the most of this massive sale, keep these tips in mind:

  • Go early for the best selection. Serious thrifters arrive when doors open.
  • Bring cash to avoid ATM fees. Cashiers cannot provide change.
  • Bring reusable bags, boxes, or a dolly to transport purchases.
  • Be prepared to dedicate a few hours to fully explore the entire grounds.
  • Keep an open mind and enjoy the spirit of discovery. Some of the best finds are unexpected.

2. Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop

The Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop began humbly in 1993 as a local elementary school fundraiser. Since then, it has grown into one of the most popular resale stores in Ann Arbor.

Managed and staffed entirely by parent volunteers, the PTO Thrift Shop now raises over $300,000 annually for all Ann Arbor Public School students and teachers.

The store carries excellent selections across all categories:

  • Clothing: Brand name fashions, specialty apparel like costume pieces, everyday basics, shoes, outerwear, and accessories fill the racks. The infant and kids sections are especially robust.
  • Home goods: Linens, housewares, lamps, vases, kitchen appliances, furniture, and more are priced affordably. Crafters love the fabric selection.
  • Toys, games, and media: There is an entire section just for educational toys and games, plus books for all reading levels. DVDs, CDs, and records are also stocked.
  • Specialty items: Holiday decor, memorabilia, antiques, artwork, and collectibles appear regularly. The selection is diverse.

As an added bonus, the Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop is clean, spacious, and impressively organized by department, size, and color. Amazing finds can be uncovered here with a bit of dedicated browsing.

Ann Arbor PTO Thrift Shop Tips

Make the most of your trips to this nonprofit gem by keeping these tips in mind:

  • New inventory hits the floor every day. Visit often for a fresh selection.
  • Ask when new merchandise is put out. Arrive early those days for the first pick.
  • Sign up for email newsletters to learn about special events and sales.
  • Talk to the volunteers. They have insider knowledge of upcoming inventory.
  • Bring a reusable bag to be kind to the volunteers who must bag purchases.

3. Ann Arbor Thrift Shop

In the heart of downtown Ann Arbor, the Ann Arbor Thrift Shop has been a local favorite for bargain hunters since 1956. Though smaller in size than some area thrifts, this shop makes up for it with an impressively curated selection. You never know what coveted antique or fab retro find you might uncover.

Some highlights of the Ann Arbor Thrift Shop include:

  • Vintage clothing and accessories: Groovy 70s wares, retro 50s frocks, and chic old-school hats and handbags are displayed artfully.
  • Antique furniture and home decor: Mid-century modern furnishings abound, as well as small decorative antiques like vases, frames, and lamps.
  • Collectibles: The shop has an entire glass case devoted just to rare finds like vintage toys, trading cards, and pop culture memorabilia.
  • Rotating art gallery: Local artists can apply to display their works in the shop’s art gallery for two months. Original affordable artwork rotates regularly.

All profits benefit the Ann Arbor Thrift Shop Foundation, which distributes funds annually to numerous local community organizations. So your purchases here support good causes around Ann Arbor.

Ann Arbor Thrift Shop Tips:

Follow these tips for an awesome experience at this downtown gem:

  • Chat up the friendly sales associates for history on select retro items. They are very knowledgeable.
  • Ask if anything interesting is coming up for the collectibles case; they may hold items for interested buyers.
  • Check the calendar by the front register for upcoming art gallery rotations.
  • Join their email list for notifications about special sale events.

4. Salvation Army Family Store & Donation Center

As a nationwide thrift chain, the Salvation Army is a familiar name. The Ann Arbor location has served the community since the 1960s in its space near the Briarwood Mall. The sizable store carries abundant clothing, furniture, housewares, books, toys, and other everyday essentials at rock-bottom prices.

Why you should check out this iconic thrift store:

  • Designer brands: Gently used clothes from brands like Banana Republic, J.Crew, Michael Kors, and Anthropologie are common thrift finds.
  • Latest toys: Lightly used toys in great condition regularly appear, ideal for families on a budget.
  • Easy donation drop-off: The drive-up donation area makes it quick and convenient to unload your extra items.
  • Supporting a good cause: Sales fund the Salvation Army’s local programs including housing, youth centers, rehabilitation centers, and food assistance.

While the digs are more sparse than some thrifts, the sheer volume of merchandise makes it worthwhile. Be prepared to sift—you never know what stylish or unique treasures you might give a new life.

Salvation Army Tips:

Enhance your shopping experience at this iconic resale store with these tips:

  • Ask staff when new merchandise is put on the floor. Try to come on those days.
  • Be willing to really hunt through the racks and shelves to make surprising finds.
  • Bring a reusable bag or buy one of theirs to cut down on waste.
  • Check out around major holidays for hidden gift finds.

5. Plato’s Closet Ann Arbor

Part of a popular national franchise, Plato’s Closet Ann Arbor brings the thrill of thrifting to teens and 20-somethings. As a resale store, they buy and sell gently used items from popular fast fashion brands. Hip young shoppers flock here to score deals on current styles.

A few reasons Plato’s Closet stands out:

  • Trendy teen and young adult styles: All the latest looks from brands like Nike, Forever 21, American Eagle, and Urban Outfitters fill the racks.
  • Accessories galore: Fashionable handbags, shades, belts, shoes, and jewelry abound for budget-savvy accessorizing.
  • Carefully curated: Merchandise is selectively chosen to keep offerings fresh and stylish. Items are also organized by color and style for easy browsing.
  • Sell your looks: Bring in your own current apparel to score cash or trade credit for new-to-you pieces.

For affordable fashions that won’t betray your cool factor, Plato’s Closet is a must-browse. The selection shifts rapidly so visit often.

Plato’s Closet Tips

Maximize your stylish resale finds with these handy tips:

  • Download their app to get alerts for extra discounts and store credit deals
  • Ask staff when they get large buy-ins to shop for fresh inventory.
  • Carefully check items for flaws like stains, tears, or missing buttons before purchasing.
  • Sign up for text alerts so you never miss a sale.

6. The Getup Vintage

Tucked away on a side street in Kerry town, The Getup Vintage is Ann Arbor’s hidden gem source for sensational secondhand style. Crammed full of retro and modern vintage clothing, accessories, and décor, this tiny trendy boutique packs a big punch.

Why The Getup Vintage should be on your radar:

  • One-of-a-kind statement pieces: The eclectic inventory features items you won’t see anywhere else, from flashy 60s mod dresses to 90s rocker tees.
  • Curated by true vintage experts: The passionate co-owners have a knack for selecting distinctive vintage wardrobe must-haves.
  • Small but mighty: With transactions and changing rooms located in shipping containers outdoors, the indoor shop fits only a few browsers at a time to maintain an intimate experience.
  • Accessibility: Call ahead for curbside pickup during business hours. Virtual shopping services are also available.

For totally unique vintage apparel that will make you the talk of any party or event, The Getup Vintage should be your first stop. The stock is always changing.

The Getup Vintage Tips

Here are handy tips for shopping at this charming vintage boutique:

  • Follow their Instagram for sneak peeks of new arrivals before they hit the floor.
  • Ask the helpful staff for suggestions—they know the inventory inside and out.
  • Try before you buy since sizing varies widely for older pieces.
  • Check out their “redo” section for vintage finds with minor flaws offered at reduced prices.

More Fabulous Thrift Stores Around Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor’s thrifting scene extends far beyond just the shops highlighted above. No matter what you are looking for, chances are there is a resale store out there with amazing deals waiting. Here is a quick look at over a dozen more excellent thrifting options around town:

7. Twice is Nice

A tiny resale shop with amazing prices on women’s apparel and accessories. Check the new arrivals rack up front for the latest finds.

8. Materials Unlimited

Crafter’s paradise with fabric, yarn, craft tools, frames, vases, and more supplied by Ann Arbor Creative Reuse.

9. Nu2u Again Resale

Family-owned consignment and thrift carrying furniture, housewares, antiques, clothing, and collectibles.

10. Value World Thrift Store

Budget prices on clothing, electronics, games, books, shoes, and home goods at this discount chain thrift.

11. Boober T Thrift Shop

Gently used clothing and housewares supporting fundraising efforts for breast cancer care.

12. Thrift Depot

Large thrift store benefiting ShareHouse with clothing, furniture, games, household items, and books.

13. ShareHouse Thrift Shop

Cozy shop specializing in books and media plus some housewares. Staffed by ShareHouse residents.

14. My Sister’s Closet

Upscale women’s consignment boutique carrying luxe designer brands at steep discounts.

15. Clothing Co-op of Ann Arbor

Gently used clothing sold cheaply by the pound, benefitting the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice.

16. Goodwill

Major national chain with several locations around Ann Arbor offering clothes, accessories, electronics, and home goods.

17. Habitat for Humanity ReStore

New and used furniture, construction surplus, hardware, appliances, and home goods benefiting Habitat’s mission.

Tips and Tricks for Uncovering Ann Arbor Thrift Shop Treasures

Now that your radar is tuned for seeking out secondhand deals around Ann Arbor, here are some handy tips to maximize your thrifting adventures in town:

  • Know store donation schedules – Try to visit right after big donation drop-offs for the freshest selection. Ask staff when they restock.
  • Be open-minded – Let go of any specific shopping agenda before you arrive. The most delightful finds are unexpected treasures you didn’t know you needed.
  • Inspect thoroughly – Check for flaws like stains, tears, or missing pieces. Try everything on. Items cannot be returned at most thrift shops.
  • Look up – Shelves and racks can be tightly packed, so scan up top as well to avoid missing good stuff.
  • Don’t over-wash – For items not worn directly on the skin, consider spot cleaning vs. washing to maintain vintage appeal.
  • Go early – For weekend sales, early birds get the best selection. Many serious thrifters even arrive a little before opening.
  • Bring cash – Most thrifts offer discounts for cash payments and some only accept cash. You’ll also avoid ATM fees.
  • Use a scanner app – Download apps like Goodwill’s ValuText to quickly scan an item’s eBay prices and look up brand info.
  • Talk to the staff – Employees often have helpful intel on upcoming inventory and sales. They may set special items aside for interested buyers.
  • Join email lists – For first dibs on sales and peeks at great upcoming items.
  • Have fun – Stay relaxed and don’t take it too seriously. Half the fun is in the spirit of discovery. Happy thrifting!

Why Thrifting in Ann Arbor is So Addicting

Ann Arbor offers such an amazing diversity of quality resale shops that you could thrift here for decades and still make exciting new finds on every visit.

These stores are more than just places to grab clothes and household goods affordably—they are communities. Nonprofit thrifts channel their sales into good causes that uplift residents across Ann Arbor. Their friendly volunteers and staff are fonts of helpful information.

Thrifting feels nostalgic, taking us back to simpler times of browsing dusty shelves and bins without endless choices. And in today’s fast fashion era, reselling quality used items is kinder to the planet.

Ann Arbor thrift stores provide access to stylish clothing and home furnishings that otherwise could be unaffordable to many. They are gateways of opportunity for creativity, self-expression, and empowerment.

So whether you are new to thrifting or a seasoned pro, grab your reusable bag and come explore Ann Arbor’s vibrant culture of reuse. Happy treasure hunting!

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