Guide to thrift shopping in Iowa City

With thrifting becoming a worldwide phenomenon for budget shoppers everywhere, you might want to see what all the hype is about. Consult our list of six local thrift stores to help you save your pretty pennies.

Thrift shopping is taking over the modern shopping world. Buying clothes second hand is beneficial in so many ways, but it can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. Focusing on the Iowa City area alone, there are so many shops, both chain stores and locally owned businesses where you can find some real gems without emptying your wallet. Conveniently, almost all the second hand stores in Iowa City are within a few minutes drive of each other. A visit to what I like to call “the thrifting district” is guaranteed to bring you some great finds!  


The large furniture section at Goodwill is guaranteed to catch your eye. (Howaida Musa )

It’s not cliche, it’s classic. Goodwill might be a little basic, but it has its charms. This store often jumps to people’s minds when thrifting is brought up, and for good reason. Their cheap prices and large clothing section have made it arguably the most well known thrift store in the area. As a result of its well known status, Goodwill often has the best donations of name brand, high quality and vintage clothing. It’s not uncommon to stumble upon usually expensive clothing such as Adidas, Nike, Victoria’s Secret and Lululemon. They also have large racks full of fun little seasonal items if you’re looking for some home decor. 


Crowded Closet:

Crowded Closet’s main path that winds through the whole store. (Howaida Musa )

This store is a local gem. Their large selection of clothing, games, jewelry, sports equipment and more never disappoints. Located on the East side of Iowa City, this shop has a wonderful vintage section and incredibly cheap prices. Even when compared to other second hand stores in the area, the prices really stack up well. I truly think that Crowded Closet is the best place to find unique, high quality and well priced jewelry. Many other stores have limited selections, or only sell their costume jewelry in giant packs that are overpriced. It’s the kind of place where you either discover the best find of your life or you walk out with nothing. It’s still worth the stop. 


Salvation Army:

The view from the changing rooms of Salvation Army (Howaida Musa )

If you love the almost overwhelming sight of clothes, books, jewelry, games, accessories and more literally everywhere, then you’ll love walking into Salvation Army. Its cramped and color-coded shelves bring me a certain joy every time I see them. This is the kind of store where you never know what you’ll walk out with. I’ve found all sorts of treasures there: from Steve Madden heels to a life size Humpty Dumpty statue. 



Stuff’s bright displays make shopping their enjoyable and entertaining (Stuff Etc. Official Website )

If you’re in search of a store that has the latest fashion, then Stuff Etc. is the place to go! One of the beauties of Stuff etc. is that the workers prioritize selective stocking of their shelves. Stuff is filled with trendy clothing, house decor, furniture, and more! If you want Under Armour, Pink, American Eagle, or any brand name items Stuff has plenty of those. Shopping at Stuff etc. means buying without the fear of items costing a king’s ransom. 


Upscale Resale:

Beautiful Glassware at Upscale Resale (Eleanor Weitz )

This quaint little shop is a bit out of the way for most people but I promise it’s worth the drive. Once you get through the gravel roads, warehouse location and make it through the doors, it seems like a whole different building. The best thing about Upscale Resale is their whole rack of 50 cent clothing. This little store is pretty underrated and you can discover a ton of rare finds. Their jewelry section is also superb! It can be a little pricey but the pieces are often great quality. 


The Second Act

The men’s section at The Second Act sports a wide variety of brands and styles (Eleanor Weitz )

I just recently discovered this beautiful maze of a thrift store. It’s located over by the Riverside Hyvee and what really makes it special is its organization. Every room has a theme and each time you go the magic of wandering into each room never fades. They’re my favorite store for vintage, with an entire rack of beautiful vintage dresses and another for suits. One aspect of this store that could be an up or downside depending on your needs is that many of the items are only available to be rented. If you’re looking for a Halloween costume make sure to keep this place in mind. Renting could be much cheaper than buying something you’ll only wear once.