When compared to thrifting on the Eastside or the Westside, thrifting in the Valley might be the most L.A. experience of the three. Despite the Westside thrift stores' proximity to Rodeo Drive, the Valley has something that neither neighborhood can top: studio connections. The Valley thrift stores have the most Hollywood vibe by far, which might just prove the Valley enthusiasts' theory that Burbank is the true Hollywood. Industry debates aside, though, if you’re looking for clothes that might possibly have been worn by Meryl Streep at one point or another, you’re going to have to drive over the hill to where it’s 10 degrees hotter than it is in the rest of the city. Once you make it past the Studio City In-N-Out, keep an eye out for these not-too-deep-Valley thrift stores (one of which, by the way, is actually called Valley Thrift Store).
While Dilusso boasts some great secondhand finds, it has the appeal of feeling like a homey, trendy boutique instead of a chaotic thrift store. A lot of the clothes it sells are from studios, and often have only been worn once or not at all. It also sells consignment goods, specifically with upscale brand names. Locals bring in good-quality designer bags, and the shop will spruce them up and sell them, keeping a percentage and paying a majority of the funds to the original owner. Janette, who was working when I went in, also mentioned that she sells a few handmade dresses in the store. And if that weren’t motivation enough to stop in, according to the sign out front, Dilusso observes Wine Wednesday, which allows all shoppers 21 and older to enjoy a glass as they shop.
Vintage or thrift? Both.
Hidden gem? Gorgeous, unique summer dresses for $20.
3601 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank. (800) 498-9908, dilussotrends.com.
Junk for Joy
Color hits you as soon as you walk into Junk for Joy. It is packed to the absolute brim with decades on decades of color. A lot of what it carries is “dead stock,” which is vintage, in that it’s from decades past, but doesn’t qualify as thrift because it’s never been worn. (Staffers trotted out a pair of never-been-worn 1960s pedal pushers — with the original tag still attached — to define dead stock to me.) Kathleen Lenihan, the owner, is constantly looking for pieces no one else has, and one of her store’s primary functions is to provide costumes year-round. Hollywood costumers often shop here, as do student filmmakers — and people who are Burning Man– or Christmas party–bound are also fans.
Vintage or thrift? Vintage, thrift and a costume store for authentic and completely out-of-the-ordinary stuff.
Hidden gem? Somewhere in this store lives Sandra Bullock’s suit from Miss Congeniality.
3314 W Magnolia Blvd., Burbank. (818) 569-4903, junkforjoy.com.
Genmer Thrift Store & Donation Center
The sign outside screams “run-down thrift store,” but on the inside, you’ll find everything from a $1 table to antiques going for $2,000. Genmer had some reasonably priced, unique wall art and nice china, and should definitely be a go-to furniture stop for people looking to furnish their apartments in the Valley. And there’s a beautiful original oil painting of Paris going for $40 that you should get your hands on before I go back for it.
Vintage or thrift? Thrift.
Hidden gem? The mismatched but really great pottery on the $1 table. And the inexpensive glassware.
6265 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys. (855) 436-6375.
It is very rare that I go hunting for men’s secondhand clothing, and I’ve never even considered the possibility that suits and men’s businesswear would be sold secondhand. It’s honestly ridiculous that this has never crossed my mind; after all, we have countless consignment shops that sell women’s designer clothes at reduced prices. Well, in Studio City, Armani Wells is selling very gently used men’s clothing at slashed prices. I even had one loyal customer tell me he found a nearly mint-condition Hugo Boss suit that didn’t need tailoring for $40. Of course, some of the prices are much higher than this, but Armani Wells still favors significantly reduced prices, and there are Versace and Prada labels all over the store.
Vintage or thrift? Chic thrift.
Hidden gem? I’m not even going to pretend to know enough about men’s clothing to find a hidden gem.
12404 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. (818) 985-5899, armaniwells.com/aw.
Valley Thrift Store
It takes an expert thrifter to succeed at the very aptly named Valley Thrift Store. However, if you’re willing to brave the chaos of a bustling, sprawling thrift store in Van Nuys, you’ll never pay full price for an appliance or sporting good ever again. You name some far-fetched household item, and it probably has a selection of 10 to choose from. Most notably, I found an impressive selection of golf clubs, which sat directly across from an equally impressive display of hair dryers. Best of all, the golf clubs were between $9 and $16, and there were purses in good shape for about $2.50.
Vintage or thrift? Thrift.
Hidden gem? Obviously the golf club starter set.
13630 Victory Blvd., Van Nuys. redwhiteandbluethriftstore.com.
It’s a Wrap
It’s a Wrap organizes its clothes in such a way that you can track down what movie or television show an outfit was on. You could spend hours trying to trace the origins of your new crewneck sweater back to House, and then spend even more time pondering the likelihood of Hugh Laurie having actually worn it. Currently, the summer sale is posted as “50% off all items priced $35 and under.” The shoes and ties are both reasonably priced and in great condition, and you can find outfits from different cultures, backgrounds and decades (though they’re all products of Hollywood). It’s also worth looking through the lingerie section, just to see if you can stumble on anything Catherine Zeta-Jones wore in Chicago.
Vintage or thrift? Hollywood thrift.
Hidden gem? The lowest-priced items are, according to the pamphlet, on the sidewalk racks, the center aisle racks or in the back room, and prices start as low as $1.
3315 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank. itsawraphollywood.com/burbank.htm.
American Way felt a lot like the thrift stores my parents used to take me to in the '90s, which is likely attributable to the comical amounts of plaid and khaki that you can find there. (Incidentally, a lot of the plaid and khaki is priced between $1 and $6.) One of the values of American Way is that it’s on the same street as Junk for Joy, Dilusso Trends and It’s a Wrap. So there’s a lot of opportunity to hit multiple stores and pick different pieces up at each. The owner at Junk for Joy, who often helps costumers and actors find outfits, will send shoppers down the street (after they’ve found their niche, vintage items) for more basic items, such as plain shirts.
Vintage or thrift? Thrift.
Hidden gem? The bikes. I’ve been to a record number of L.A. thrift stores at this point, and this was one of the first places where I found secondhand bikes. An adult bike was going for $125, and a kid’s bike was $31.
3226 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank. americanwaythriftstores.com.