Thrifting Guide to Northern Virginia

I’ve updated this guide for 2014. HERE.

Whenever I talk to people about Pies & Puggles, I generally describe it as a blog about thrifting with a heavy dose of cooking and DIY. This inevitably leads to a discussion of the thrift stores I like best in the Northern Virginia area so I thought I should finally post my favorites here. I go out about twice a week and have a little rotation since these stores tend to be grouped together to some extent. I have a Fairfax route, an Alexandria route and a Herndon route. I also occasionally make forays into Arlington/Falls Church and Loudoun County, but those trips are more rare; Arlington because I find the selection to be both pricey and picked-over and Loudoun because it’s just so darn far away. So mostly these are the ones on my regular routes.

INOVA Fair Oaks Hospital Thrift Shop
9683 Fairfax Boulevard
Fairfax, VA 22031

The INOVA Fair Oaks Hospital Thrift Shop is located right at Fairfax Circle on Route 50 across the street from Home Depot in a strip mall. This is probably the most consistent of the thrift stores I visit on a regular basis. Even if I find occasion to visit twice in one week, I will usually find something for my Etsy shop here. That said, the prices are all over the map, which sometimes leads to head-scratching experiences, from crazy high prices on sets of dinnerware (IKEA priced higher than new) to crazy low prices on other things, like a vintage wire, wheeled cart I bought for my husband’s gaming stuff for $4. This was also where I found the musical ice bucket and where I find a lot of the ceramics that make their way into my shop. 
Goodwill Fairfax

9960 Main Street

Fairfax, VA 22031
The Goodwill store in Fairfax is the thrift store closest to my house. I can’t get to either the hardware store or the bank without passing it so I stop in there pretty often, which is probably why I’ve found as many good pieces there as I have. Lots of Dansk, the occasional piece of vintage barware, some mid century modern dishes. Goodwill is pretty rigorous about sifting out the real treasures for their online auctions, but if you know what you’re looking at and/or you’re willing to buy odds and ends (this set of Frankoma dishes), you can score some real bargains.
Annandale Treasure Trove
7010 Columbia Pike
Annandale, VA 22003
The second of the three INOVA shops I visit on a regular basis, the Annandale location does a lot of consignment business and I’ve often wondered if they have a refinisher on staff because a lot of their furniture seems to have been already touched-up. This is great if you want to bring something home and set it up in your house, not so great if you want a bargain project to work on yourself. That said, I’ve gotten some great deals on vintage barware here and I’m hoping that someone will convince them to sell the sad, white-painted Broyhill Saga desk where they have their boombox so it can be rescued. I always see mid century furniture here, usually in the $200 range, but since it’s in generally really nice shape, this is a great place for people who don’t want to have to do a lot of DIYing to get something pretty and inexpensive. I also seem to turn up a lot of vintage table linens here.

Salvation Army Annandale
6528 Little River Turnpike
Alexandria, VA 22312

This store has super friendly and helpful employees. If you’re polite, you can often get them to check in back for you if you’re missing part of a set that’s on the floor and they are very proactive about helping you load stuff into your car (nice when you’re alone and buying a dresser). This is a huge store and they have a large selection of furniture and housewares. The key is picking the day you visit. Wednesdays are 25% off days, but get there early. The place gets picked clean very quickly. My favorite day to visit is Tuesday, preferably late in the afternoon. You don’t get the discount, but I think they must get a lot of drop-offs over the weekend and price throughout Monday and Tuesday because whenever I’ve been here on a Tuesday, I come out with a haul.

Back Porch Thrift Shop

7838 Richmond Highway

Alexandria, VA 22306

I’ve only been to this store twice, but both times I have found items well worth the drive. It’s not a huge store, but they pack in quite a bit and have more furniture than many larger stores. I’ve found some nicely priced globes here as well as quite a bit of vintage glassware. This store is also notable for being willing to adjust pricing if you find something that you think is truly out of whack, which in my experience is a rarity in thrift stores. I don’t negotiate on pieces that are going into my Etsy shop though. It’s a charity shop so that’s just rude. Also, the Habitat for Humanity ReStore is just about half a block up the street and they’ve got a lot of amazing furniture there too.

McLean Treasure Trove
1317B Chain Bridge Road
McLean, VA 22101
This is another INOVA shop that seems to do a lot of consignment business and McLean seems to be the spot for designer clothing consignments. This means very high quality items: name brands like J. Crew and Lily Pulitzer, but also serious designers like Balenciaga, Chloe and Oscar de la Renta. And they know what these designer items should cost, even used. I include this store only because the consistently high quality options mean that sometimes you can get a deal on a really amazing piece (the context here though is versus buying new). I buy something pretty much every time I visit, but it’s usually for myself because the prices are too high for much resale wiggle room. And don’t go at lunchtime because there’s very little parking in the strip mall where it’s located. Best bet is early afternoon.

The Bargain Loft
336 Victory Drive
Herndon, VA 20170

Here’s a general thrift store tip: the best stores are ones located in relatively more affluent areas. The Bargain Loft falls into this category and it shows. It is lovingly staffed by volunteers from Reston-Herndon FISH, a social services organization in Northern Fairfax County. They take great care to inspect, research, tag and display the nice items that come into the store, which is admittedly pretty small. The prices here are a little higher than they would be at your typical Goodwill store, but while there might be items that don’t suit your needs or tastes, there is virtually no junk. It’s just a really well-curated store and the staff is not snooty like at some other higher end thrift stores. This is the place for mid century name brand housewares, beautiful table linens and high quality lamps.

The Closet of Herndon
845 Station Street

Herndon, VA 20170
The Closet is just a hoot. The hours are terrible, the place is always completely jam packed with people, it’s impossible to park your car, there is stuff literally everywhere from the floor to the ceiling and they’re always trying to get you to take their free bread. Seriously, every time you turn around, someone tries to hand you a loaf of bread. It’s the weirdest thing. That said, if I lived closer, I’d go every day they were open. First of all, if you’re a first timer and you happen to mention it, they’ll ring a big ship’s bell in the front of the store and everyone cheers. Second, if you’re looking for something specific, just ask. I asked about a navy wool blazer one time and they didn’t have any, but by the next time I visited, the manager remembered me and had put aside several in my size for me to choose from. That’s unprecedented service for a thrift store. Third, this is far and away the best place to find things to repurpose. Tons of lamps, lampshades, dishes, clothing, a huge craft section with yarn, fabric, patterns, stamps and such. This store is not for people with a low tolerance for chaos, but if serendipity suits you fine, you’ll love it. Oh, and bring cash (lots) because they don’t take credit cards.

Blue Ridge Hospice Thrift Shop
151 W Main Street
Purcellville, VA 20132

Whenever I find myself in Loudoun County, I make it a point to stop in at the Blue Ridge Hospice Thrift Shop in Purcellville. I realize this is quite a haul for DC types, but Catoctin Creek Distillery is out here and it’s just past Leesburg so there are plenty of other things to do if you want to make a day trip of it. The great thing about this store is that apparently no one in Loudoun County shares my love for mid century modern pieces. I visit every month or two and always find a large collection of items just sitting there waiting for me. And the best thing is that I’d call the pricing about half what it would be for similar items in a Fairfax County store and about a third the cost of comparable items found in Arlington County stores. 
That pretty much covers the ones I make it to regularly. There are a few others where I find the occasional great piece, but these are my go-to staples. Do you have a favorite thrift store in Northern Virginia? Let me know in the comments.

UPDATES: When I visit new stores, I’ll add links to my reviews here and from now on, those posts will also be tagged “thrifting guide to northern virginia” so you can find them all easily.

Thrifty Old Town Alexandria

Annandale Goodwill on John Marr Drive

Thrifting Prince William County

This is a post from Pies and Puggles. Republishing this article in full or in part is a violation of copyright law. And it isn’t nice. © 2010-2013, all rights reserved.

15 thoughts on “Thrifting Guide to Northern Virginia

  1. The Unique Thrift Store in Falls Church, at Gallows and 29 is interesting. It's another one of those stores that puts everything and anything out (I once saw a package of already printed death announcements going for $1). It's huge, and I have found some good clothing and houseware items. You just need time and patience.

  2. Well, you're a brave one! I've not had a lot of luck at Unique looking for high quality vintage items and their crazy parking lot is pretty much enough to keep me at bay. It definitely is huge though!

  3. Oh, my! I have my own circuit over here in MD! I might have to suck it up and head over the river to your list of shops.
    On Fridays, I go to the Community Forklift in Edmonston, around the corner to H4H, then sometimes up to Glen Burnie to their GREAT H4H, Second Chance in Baltimore, then back home to the south side of Bowie out towards Annapolis.
    There are about 6 more thrift stores in Baltimore I've not explored because I might like them. That would be bad.

    I'm rebuilding my home after a fire and I couldn't do it without these stores. I wouldn't have a kitchen, porch, bathroom cabs, the credenza I built, and a whole bunch other stuff.
    Nice to meet someone with my .. ahhh … passion. I refuse to discuss addiction! 🙂

  4. Ooh! So glad to meet another local thrifting fan! I'm sorry to hear about the fire though. And thanks for the Maryland recommendations. I have yet to explore many stores on the other side of the Potomac. Isn't that always the way around here?

  5. I love Joseph's Coat in Annadale (very near to Treasure Trove). They have a $1 rack where I've found some amazing finds. They always have loads and loads of glassware, flatware, serving sets, etc. Clock Tower usually has some fantastic vintage finds, but they have gotten a bit overpriced lately, so I don't stop as often, but there's a newer Goodwill literally right next door that's great for all things clothes-related- brand new black velvet blazer? Don't mind if I do! And THANK YOU for compiling this list! I thought I was a cool kid and "in-the-know" on all the good thrift stores, but there are a few new-to-me ones on this list. Can't wait to give them a whirl!

  6. Yay! Glad I could help. I have been to Joseph's Coat just once and didn't find anything so I'll have to check it out again sometime soon. I'm over there a lot because the brand new (less than a month old) Goodwill over there in Annandale near Treasure Trove has been pretty fantastic. I found a Marshall Studios lamp for $12! Have you been yet? It literally just opened.

    As for Clock Tower, I assume you mean the one off Route 50 just up the street from the other new-ish Goodwill? I've found some good furniture at that Clock Tower, but the vintage housewares were a little out of my price range. There is also a Clock Tower store in Centreville and I've had better luck finding cheaper vintage housewares items there. Thanks for the reminder about those though. I'm looking for a couple pieces for a friend and the Falls Church stores might be a better bet for what I'm looking for than some of my usual haunts.

  7. Hello!
    A question for you.
    I'm going up to Hagerstown (Repurposed & Redefined) for a class on Saturday.
    I want to swing through different stores on the way, but am not familiar with NoVA.
    Coming from Upper Marlboro, would you be able to recommend a route that would hit as many of these fabulous stores as I can, ultimately hitting Hagerstown by nightfall?
    I definitely need to swing through Leesburg to see Luckett's! Thanks for any suggestions you have. I appreciate your time. Christine

  8. Well, if you're into furniture, my best recommendations are the Habitat for Humanity Stores (there's one in Alexandria on Rt 1 and one in Chantilly off Rt 50), the Salvation Army in Annandale and Pender ReGift in Chantilly, all just for selection alone.

    However, my personal very favorite stores are the INOVA thrift stores (Annandale, Springfield and Fairfax) and The Bargain Loft in Herndon. They're not as well-stocked furniture-wise, but they have a nice mix of furniture, housewares and clothing and it's usually really high quality stuff. I don't really know where Hagerstown or Upper Marlboro are so I can't recommend the perfect route, but a few minutes with Google Maps should sort you out.

    Good luck!

  9. Hi, Have you tried the Second Chance Thrift store from the Fairfax Humane Society at 4055 Chain Bridge Road in Fairfax City. I find it great, It is a small historic house.
    The volunteers are great and the prices are good. It is too small for furniture, but they have everything else except fur.

  10. OK, now that I discovered your blog, I have a whole new list!!! I really like Unique, and the Goodwill in Fairfax (or Annandale? Route 50, I think?) recently doubled in size. I've taken a hiatus from thrifting recently, but you've inspired me. Thanks!

  11. Hi! Always nice to meet another thrifting fan! The Goodwill in Fairfax (Main Street/Little River Turnpike actually) just added a whole new section that's mostly furniture. It's great. In fact, I just bought a cow hide rocking chair there today for $30 (half price furniture).

  12. Shucks! I was just over that way today, but I never go there. Their pricing always seemed out of whack to me and I never found anything I considered really great. If you need a new place, I highly recommend the INOVA shops. The one in Annandale has been especially hot for me lately.

  13. That's awesome! I stopped by the INOVA shop near Bowl America/Fairfax Circle today, and they had some good silver pieces…but they don't take American Express, and that's all I use! Probably better off that way. 😉

    I'm usually on the lookout for silver, art, hardcover books, and small paintable furniture. Keep the tips coming, thank you!!!

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