On my most recent visit to Paris, I traveled with my equally shopaholic friend, Krista. Like any good shopper, she loves a good bargain. We often compare notes on deals we find. The area where my friend far outshines me though is her expertise in thrifting second hand stores.
She had done her research and scouted out a Paris thrift store not too far from our Airbnb–Emmaus boutique in the north Marais at 74 Rue de Turbigo.
Paris Thrift and Second Hand Stores versus Paris Vintage Stores versus Paris Consignment Stores– what’s the Difference?
While Paris vintage stores often were listed as Paris “thrift stores” in Krista’s online research, she explains that they are not the same. While Paris is filled with vintage stores in every price range, thrift stores are far more rare.
As she explained, a vintage store is almost always clothing and accessories only (no housewares or knickknacks which thrift stores always carry). The proprietor of the vintage store finds clothing that is usually a couple decades or so old at least and selects it specifically to be sold in the store.
In a thrift store (also often called second hand stores), donated goods supports a charity or multiple charities – expect far cheaper prices than a vintage store.
In our area, the predominant thrift stores are run by Goodwill, so we often use “thrift” and “Goodwill” interchangeably. Also, thrift stores carry housewares, which are Krista’s favorite items to rifle through. You just never know what you might find.
Consignment stores are distinct from both vintage and thrift stores in that consignment stores are for profit and people resell their stuff – which will vary in terms of bargains – the clothes here are usually contemporary.
This is probably where you’ll find the most designer pieces, but not necessarily at a bargain price
Finally there are some stores that do a combo of donations and consignment – these also support a charitable cause. Prices are more expensive than thrift, but still reasonable. We didn’t see anything like this in Paris.
Why Visit a Paris Thrift Store/Goodwill/Second Hand Store
Krista’s reasons for wanting to visit a Paris thrift store are pretty straightforward– she is a self-proclaimed thrift addict and “had to see what the options were in a foreign country.”
For the rest of us, thrifting second hand stores can be a unique way to see a slice of Paris life you wouldn’t otherwise see (I found it fascinating to see what random items Parisians donated). And of course there is the absolute thrill of the hunt and possibly finding a huge bargain, and bringing home a souvenir.
The Paris Thrift Store Experience
I was pleasantly surprised at the Parisian thrift store experience. I haven’t spent much time at Goodwill in the US, but my limited experiences with second hand stores have been meh to awful. And depending on the store, vintage shop owners can sometimes be somewhat snooty.
At Emmaus, though, the staff was lovely and very helpful. Significantly, when I spoke French no one replied to me in English (a practice I find downright rude).
Krista found the Paris thrift store Emmaus to be much smaller than Goodwill and other second hand stores in the US, but similar presentation to a lot of places.
While she didn’t get a chance to check out the clothes, they looked a little nicer than your average Goodwill (I did check out the clothes can and confirm they were way nicer– see Manolo Blahnik shoes below). She enjoyed the packed knick knack section and wishes she had more time to look through it (we were in a rush with a full day planned).
On the day we visited, all the clothing was half price. I wasn’t in the mood to try things on but did see a few second hand options I would consider.
Krista’s final assessment?
The thrift store hours were pretty decent, open daily except Sunday 11:00 am-7:30 pm (unlike the flea market which was only open two days a week and seemed overwhelming). If you don’t thrift, visiting a second hand store is probably not what you want to do on a vacation, but if you do, definitely stop in.
We noticed there were other locations of the store, but couldn’t quite figure out how each one was different (if you have any more information about the Parisian thrift store scene, please comment and let us know!)
Have you been thrifting in Paris? If so, please share your experiences and tell us about your favorite stores!