What is the Difference Between Thrift Shopping and Vintage Shopping? | Christmas Tree Market - Christmas Tree Market Blog

The Difference between Vintage and Thrift Shopping

January 30th, 2013

Many people nowadays equate buying from “vintage” stores with shopping at “thrift” shops. While both forms of shopping have certain similarities, they are, in essence, still different.

Thrift and Vintage Shopping Defined

The main difference between thrift and vintage shopping is the former involves going to thrift shops, while the latter means shopping at stores that sell vintage goods.

On the one hand, thrift shops cover a wide variety of products, which is why you can find mint-condition, good-as-new items and older stuff that can be considered vintage items in such stores. It’s safe to say that “thrifting,” or the act of going to thrift shops, involves as much guesswork as it does luck. The majority of thrift stores are often run by charities like the Salvation Army and other groups where most of the revenue goes back to the community.

Photo by Knipsermann via Wikimedia Commons. CC BY 2.0 DE


Vintage shops, on the other hand, confine themselves to old, special items. Since there’s a lot of picking and authentication involved, prices tend to be relatively high. This also means you are sure to get antique furniture, vintage clothing, and other collectibles for your home. Unlike thrift stores, vintage stores are usually run by collectors who target a more upscale market.

vintage lamp

Pros and Cons of Thrift and Vintage Shopping

Both kinds of shopping have their advantages. Thrifting naturally offers items at a lower cost. There is a good chance of finding high-quality items that are priced far less than what the buyer would usually see in other retail stores.

Vintage shopping is for shoppers who know what they want and do not mind spending a lot of cash on items that would look good in their home.

As great as thrift- and vintage-store shopping may sound, there are, of course, certain disadvantages. For instance, not everything you see in thrift stores is genuine. Since these shops depend on donations from the community, not everything is screened before they are put on sale. A vivid green blouse you bought, for example, might fade after being washed; buttons might come undone, or worse, get mismatched. These are only some of the reasons why you really have to look through thrift items before purchasing them.

At the same time, vintage stores can get too pricey, making you feel as if you’re paying far more than the fair market value of the products. A vintage armoire, for instance, can fetch different prices in two different stores. For shoes, the difference between a thrift shop and the vintage store next door can range from $50 to $100.



All in all, going thrift shopping will prove beneficial in the long run. Not only do you save money, but you also find items of special value. Just make sure that you choose your purchases well and you take care of them afterwards.

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