The Best U.S. Cities for Thrifting

Title graphic for U.S. city ranking on thrift shops

You never know what you’ll find when you go thrifting. Each trip to a thrift shop, flea market, or consignment store is a magical journey into a world of awe-inspiring history, forgotten memorabilia, and DIY gold. Whether looking to decorate your walls, upcycle used materials, or wear a bit of someone else’s past, thrifting has something for everyone.

However, not every city is as accommodating when it comes to thrifting. Your city may not have many thrift stores, flea markets, or consignment stores to shop at. Or, maybe it’s a lack of thrifting community, leading to disappointing hauls or no scores at all. Maybe you do find something you love, but there’s no way you’re paying top dollar for a decades-old trinket!

At Workshopedia, we want to help the community uncover the perfect components for beautiful home decor and successful DIY projects around the house. That’s why we decided to rank the 50 most populous cities in the United States for their thriftability.

Methodology

To determine the best cities for thrifting, we started with a list of the 50 most populous cities in the U.S. and collected Yelp data on the ranking factors that have the biggest influence on how good each city is for thrifting. We then gave each factor a weight based on how much of an impact it has on the overall thriftiness of each city. Using the raw data and weights, we calculated scores for each city for the following factors:

Number of thrift stores per 100k residents – Weight: 1.75
Average star rating for thrift stores – Weight: 1.25
Average price level for thrift stores – Weight: 1.25
Number of flea markets per 100k residents – Weight: 1.25
Average star rating for flea markets – Weight: 0.75
Average price level for flea markets – Weight: 0.75
Number of vintage, used, and consignment stores per 100k residents – Weight: 1.50
Average star rating for vintage, used, and consignment stores  – Weight: 0.75
Average price level for vintage, used, and consignment stores  – Weight: 0.75

With data in hand, we fed the factor scores through our proprietary formula to determine a final score for each city. The highest possible city score is 50, with higher scores being better.

The Best U.S. Cities for Thrifting

A map showing the top 20 U.S. cities for thrifting according to nine ranking factors

If you live in the United States and want to move to one of the country’s best hubs for thrifting, you won’t have to travel far! The 20 best cities for thrifting may be scattered all across the country, from Seattle, Washington (12), to Miami, Florida (6), but eight of them are clustered in the Pacific West.

For those who settle for nothing but the best hunting grounds for secondhand treasure, Long Beach, California tops our list as the best city for thrifting. With an impressive city score of 39.4 out of 50, the thrifty city boasts 11.00 flea markets, 84.23 thrift stores, and 84.67 vintage, used, and consignment stores per 100K residents. 

Long beach prices can occasionally be high, its 4.01 average star rating for flea markets and 4.2 average star rating for vintage, used, and consignment stores mean you’re likely to leave with a smile on your face.

If somehow you do walk away from the country’s best city for thrift shopping empty-handed, California is represented three more times on the list—Oakland (2), Sacramento (8), and San Diego (17)—making it a great state for thrifting altogether.

Whether you’re looking for an elusive record, an electronic typewriter, or vintage hardwood furniture will determine the places your thrifting journey takes you. To that end, we created three additional maps ranking the top five cities for thrift stores; flea markets; and used, vintage, and consignment stores, individually.

The Best U.S. Cities for Thrift Stores

A map depicting the five best U.S. cities for thrift stores according to three ranking factors

Thrifting must be a favorite warm-weather pastime because the top five cities for thrift stores are all in the south! California stays strong with cities in second and fourth places, while this time Arizona takes first place with Mesa scoring a whopping 40.9 out of 50. Plentiful locations, high ratings, and competitive prices make this the top city for thrift store visits.

See how the rankings for the top five cities for thrift shops played out below.

1. Mesa, AZ

Number of locations per 100K residents: 63.62
Average star rating: 3.94 (out of 5.00)
Average price level: 1.52 (out of 3.00)
City score: 40.9

2. Long Beach, CA

Number of locations per 100K residents: 84.23
Average star rating: 3.97
Average price level: 1.63
City score: 38.8

3. Tampa, FL

Number of locations per 100K residents: 70.41
Average star rating: 3.89
Average price level: 1.57
City score: 33.3

4. Oakland, CA

Number of locations per 100K residents: 70.43
Average star rating: 4.09
Average price level: 1.79
City score: 31.7

5. Atlanta, GA

Number of locations per 100K residents: 55.99
Average star rating: 3.90
Average price level: 1.46
City score: 21.7

The Best U.S. Cities for Flea Markets

A map displaying which five U.S. cities are the best for flea markets according to three ranking factors

Maybe you are more interested in flea markets, where antiques, electronics, and home appliances are among the top steals. While flea markets are less common than thrift stores or used, vintage, and consignment stores across the map, you’re most likely to run into one in Oakland, California, where there are 14.36 per 100k residents. Oakland is also the place to be if you’re looking for a top-tier flea market that others vouch for, solidifying the city’s position as the second best for flea market trips. 

Long Beach, California is the best spot for flea markets overall, due to an extremely similar average star rating paired with a lower average cost of 1.73 out of 3.00—even if there are fewer flea markets to go around. Miami, Florida is a tough bargain to beat due to its low average price of 1.50. 

See the following list to compare the top five cities for flea markets in detail!

1. Long Beach, CA

Number of locations per 100K residents: 11.00
Average star rating: 4.01 (out of 5.00)
Average price level: 1.73 (out of 3.00)
City score: 40.9

2. Oakland, CA

Number of locations per 100K residents: 14.36
Average star rating: 4.03
Average price level: 2.00
City score: 38.8

3. Atlanta, GA

Number of locations per 100K residents: 9.17
Average star rating: 3.44
Average price level: 1.75
City score: 33.3

4. Miami, FL

Number of locations per 100K residents: 6.79
Average star rating: 3.70
Average price level: 1.50
City score: 31.7

5. Kansas City, MO

Number of locations per 100K residents: 5.43
Average star rating: 3.85
Average price level: 1.81
City score: 21.7

The Best U.S. Cities for Used, Vintage, and Consignment Stores

A map showing the five best U.S. cities for consignment stores according to three ranking factors

Once again, Oakland and Long Beach hold our top two spots but this time in reverse order. Oakland edges out its Californian cousin in this ranking due to a few more locations per 100K residents, a higher average star rating, and a lower price level, making it an all-around better place to shop at used, vintage, and consignment stores.

However, east-coast dwellers rejoice—Florida is also a strong contender in this ranking, offering up two cities of its own as some of the best in the country for consignment store shopping. Tampa takes fourth place with a city score of 38.1 while Miami rounds out the top five with a total city score of 32.8.

For the full list of the top five cities for used, vintage, and consignment stores and each of their ranking factors, see below.

1. Oakland, CA

Number of locations per 100K residents: 91.32
Average star rating: 4.32 (out of 5.00)
Average price level: 1.60 (out of 3.00)
City score: 41.5

2. Long Beach, CA

Number of locations per 100K residents: 84.67
Average star rating: 4.20
Average price level: 2.20
City score: 39.0

3. Mesa, AZ

Number of locations per 100K residents: 76.30
Average star rating: 4.17
Average price level: 3.00
City score: 38.2

4. Tampa, FL

Number of locations per 100K residents: 84.15
Average star rating: 4.17
Average price level: 2.10
City score: 38.1

5. Miami, FL

Number of locations per 100K residents: 81.86
Average star rating: 3.91
Average price level: 2.00
City score: 32.8

Final Thoughts

If thrift shops and flea markets aren’t your first thought when it comes to decorating your home or finishing a DIY project, don’t dismiss them so quickly! Not only are there some truly amazing relics that should not be lost to time, but it is immensely satisfying to find exactly what you are looking for amid mountains of junk. And if you need decoration tips, materials to look for, or DIY restoration guides, we’ve got you covered.

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