Ultra local consumerism.
August 15, 2010 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Where are the best thrift stores, farmers' markets and flea/street markets in Chicago?

By "best" I mean weird/cool stuff and cheap stuff in that order for the flea markets and thrift stores. Bonus if you know that there are old yearbooks, photo albums or things like that there.

For the farmers markets bonus for organic stuff. Okay weird stuff, too.

This is a recent, good one for thrift stores, but I'll leave that bit in there anyway.
posted by cmoj to Shopping (16 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I always liked a trip to the Brown Elephant run by the Howard Brown Health Center.
posted by ao4047 at 12:47 PM on August 15, 2010

Unique Thrift Store is 50% off on Mondays. I've only been to the one off the Wilson stop.

Carlos and Sarah's Surplus of Options is a little resale/vintage/??? shop that is curated with a kind of haphazard hipster sensibility and isn't too pricy. Lots of vintage books and comic books and records and such.

The Brown Elephant is a thrift store that benefits The Howard Brown Health Center which services the gay community. The one on Waveland and Halsted is better than the one up in Andersonville; tons of records and books and vintage kitchenware and, I am not even shitting you here, a whole section for used leather and gay porn. Yeah. I love it.

My favorite Farmer's Markets are in this order: Green City (yeah, you're not going to find a better Farmer's Market than this, it's the biggun), Daley Center, Andersonville, and Glenwood Sunday Market. That's because I live on the North Side, though, for the little local Farmer's Markets I am pretty sure unless it really sucks (cough, Farmer's Fridays at Uncommon Ground, cough) it's really just about which one you can bike to most easily, or which one is happening on the day you're looking at.

I have a Google Calender programmed with all the Farmer's Markets I like set as recurring events, which is nice when I'm like "It's Thursday, I have some time to kill, I want tomatoes that I can taste, where should I go?"
posted by Juliet Banana at 12:50 PM on August 15, 2010

The Halsted Brown Elephant is bigger, but the Andersonville one is inside a crumbling 20s theater palace, which is pretty cool. It's also a little less picked-over than the Boystown location.

Penn Dutchman in Lincoln Square is definitely worth a visit - it's a gigantic rambling mess of dusty ephemera run by a guy who's a lot less cranky than he looks. There's HUGE bins of spooky old family photos, hundreds of drawers of stuff like union pins and military medals, weird rusty metal stuff, truly terrible paintings, etc., etc. The hours on the site are not strictly correct - Jim tends to close early or take a day off - but it's absolutely worth your time. Oh, and be sure and ask him about playing for the St Louis Browns!
posted by theodolite at 1:27 PM on August 15, 2010

1. Thrift Store
2. Farmers Market
3. Flea/Street Market
4. ???
5. Maxwell Street Market
posted by worpet at 1:45 PM on August 15, 2010

Lost Eras on the corner of Howard, Rogers and Greenview is one of Chicago's largest thrift stores. I think they're doing a lot of costumes and props these days, so they may not be strictly thrift, but you might a enjoy a trip far-north to take a look. If you're nice, they may let you down into the basement where the pickin's are pretty amazing.
posted by Work to Live at 1:56 PM on August 15, 2010

You will also find the type of things you're looking for at estate sales. EstateSales.net will send you emails each week with listings of the estate sales in your area.
posted by Work to Live at 1:57 PM on August 15, 2010

I don't know if it's local/used/? enough for you but Uncle Fun and American Science and Surplus pretty much only sell weird/cool stuff.
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:58 PM on August 15, 2010

Oh, and you know about The Dill Pickle Co-op as far as local/organic/"ethical" foods go, right?

It's not the cheapest place in the world to shop but did you know that Whole Foods has a booklet of manufacturer's coupons for all the fancy organic brands* at their customer service desk? If you're a person who does not like to support WFs (Dear John Mackey, I would strangle you to death with my bare hands but I worry that if I sprain my wrist I would not be able to get it fixed with my shitty health insurance you apparently think I deserve) then you can easily take these coupons to a store you WOULD like to support with your dollars, like Dill Pickle, and get some good deals.

*which, it must be said, are overwhelmingly subdivisions of huge evil food conglomerates
posted by Juliet Banana at 2:05 PM on August 15, 2010

The Logan Square farmers' market is on Sundays and is one of the largest/best in the city. There's a lot of organic produce and meats, honeys, cheeses, teas, pastries, etc. There are also several food stands offering crepes, tacos, apple cider donuts, and other stuff. The Green City Market in Lincoln Park is also large and awesomely good. Green City is Wednesdays and Sundays.
posted by smich at 2:20 PM on August 15, 2010

Village Discount Outlet on Roscoe, just west of Damen.

Evanston farmers' market.
posted by onepot at 3:58 PM on August 15, 2010

The Salvation Army at 509 N Union is pretty big, with less broken glass and screaming, running children than the huge one on 2270 N Clybourn. Plus it has a boutique on the second floor of interesting antique-y stuff. Overpriced vinyl (lots of 70's and 80's soul and R&B), old boardgames, tableware, and yearbooks from decades ago. IIRC, the boutique is only open Fridays and Saturday.

The White Elephant Resale Shop has a well-organized book section and lots of bric-a-brac.

Architectural Artifacts is a humongous not-your-ordinary antique store. Nothing will be close to thrift-store prices, but it is a really fun place to explore. They have a table piled high with an assortment of random black and white photos.

I haven't been to Stop! Look! Oddments (1305 N. Western) in years, and I'm surprised they now have a web presence. It looks like it's still a fun collection of randomness, maybe now with less moldiness.

Eureka! Antiques & Collectibles specializes in paper goods and is absolutely charming.
posted by hydrophonic at 6:49 PM on August 15, 2010

Nthing the Brown Elephant. My best friend takes me there every time I visit, and I never fail to find something awesome.
posted by lexicakes at 9:16 PM on August 15, 2010

Broadway Antique Market and the Edgewater Antique Mall are a convenient distance from each other along Broadway in Edgewater (duh.) The former is a bit better organized than the latter, and has way more furniture. The latter is more likely to have yearbooks and such.
posted by me3dia at 10:15 PM on August 15, 2010

You can buy a whole house in Gary for $1.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:25 PM on August 15, 2010

There's the Mt. Sinai resale shop on 814 West Diversey. I see someone has already mentioned the White Elephant shop on Lincoln, which I would also recommend. It seems like there are a lot of thrift/antique stores on Lincoln between Fullerton and Lincoln Square, and I have this grand plan to walk that segment when it stops being so confounded hot out there, but I can't think of the names of any other shops.
posted by jennyb at 3:09 PM on August 16, 2010

Response by poster: Jeez. This might become a hobby.

I don't understand the $1 house thing.
posted by cmoj at 3:26 PM on August 16, 2010

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