Reno: A Thrift Store Mecca

Reno: A Thrift Store Mecca

For people living along the eastern Sierra Nevada range or across western Nevada, Reno feels like more than just the “Biggest Little City in the World.” It feels like the only city in the world, because if you need to fly somewhere or just want a weekend of entertainment, it’s the place to be! Living in Lee Vining, California, I made the trek up to Reno about once a month. Even if the purpose of my trip was to fly somewhere else, I always booked a night downtown and allowed myself time during the day to go shopping—at Reno’s thrift stores.

I’m a bit of a thrift store junky, and Reno fanned the flames. Thanks to the abundance of vacation homes in Tahoe, Reno’s thrift stores are well-stocked with hiking and ski gear, outdoor clothing and even electronics like speakers and stereos—basically, everything that gets left behind after a vacation or replaced after a few years at a second home. From an almost-new down sleeping bag to a backpacking tent to water filters and hiking boots, I stocked up my VW with everything I needed to take off exploring in the Sierras for weeks on end (including a thrift store-bought stereo and speakers!). When I return to Reno, here are the spots you can find me hunting for treasure:

st. vincents

Photo courtesy of St. Vincent’s Thrift Shop

St. Vincent’s Thrift Shop

One of the best aspects of thrift store shopping is that oftentimes, you’re giving back to the community just by making a purchase. St. Vincent’s is run by Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada, with proceeds benefiting their food pantry and dining room since 1960. The shop now includes both their downtown location on E. Fourth Street (where I found the gems of my vinyl record collection, from ZZ Top’s Tres Hombres to Eric Clapton’s 461 Ocean Boulevard) and St. Vincent’s Super Thrift, a massive array of bargain clothing and household items on East Glendale Avenue.

Thrift Depot

thrift depot

Photo courtesy of Thrift Depot

After exploring St. Vincent’s downtown location, head across the street to Thrift Depot, a fundraising outpost of the Reno-Sparks Gospel Mission. Of their four locations, the E. Fourth Street outpost is arguably the most central and best stocked. All purchases help to house the homeless and aid them on a path to addiction recovery. Thrift Depot posts its best items to Facebook each week, but if you wait to find them there, you’re probably too late. And although they’re a prime stop for like-new furniture at bargain prices, if you’re just visiting Reno and you’re a video game lover, you’ll drool over their selection of classic Nintendo and PlayStation games.


spca thrift

Photo courtesy of SPCA of Northern Nevada

SPCA Thrift Store

Just down the road on Fourth Street is the SPCA of Northern Nevada’s impressive thrift store, where all profits go to fund their animal shelter and find homes for dogs and cats. The massive store is well-stocked with furniture, clothing, books and electronics, with a recent shopper boasting on Yelp about scoring a chaise lounge for $50, and others lauding it for its organized layout and cleanliness.


platos closet

Photo courtesy of Plato’s Closet


Plato’s Closet 

It’s time to head south down Virginia Street to this hotspot for gently used fashions. Plato’s Closet isn’t a charity, but it does serve a terrific community purpose, helping to deck out teens in recent styles without busting their parents’ budget. Although it caters toward teens and young adults, their clothing can suit anyone of any age. At a fraction of their cost new, I picked up a pair of dress shoes and a pair of boots that I still wear.



assistance league

Photo courtesy of Assistance League Thrift Store

Assistance League Thrift Store

We’ll conclude our adventure at the Assistance League Thrift Store on Vassar Street. This attractively laid out shop sells everything imaginable, including a Senior Sampler Gift Shop inside the store that features handmade items by seniors in the Reno community. Shoppers compare the handicrafts to a real-life Etsy.  Staffed completely by volunteers, it’s a true community effort.


When I’m visiting a new town, I always stop in to at least one thrift store. The items for sale give you a feel for the community and the nature of the place. In Reno, that means everything from cowboy hats to classic vinyl records, along with rust-free sporting equipment (love that desert air!) and gadgets and electronics aplenty. Go digging into Reno’s thrift stores—you’re sure to find a memorable souvenir!

About the Author: Stratton Lawrence is a freelance writer and gear junkie who loves to travel every chance he gets. He writes for eBay about his worldly adventures and lucky tech finds.

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