Vintage buying is fun no matter where you are. There are gems hidden in every city and small town across this country. When I traveled to Phoenix, AZ I went into a few thrift stores to see what I could get my hands onto. Goodwill is a huge thrift store chain that is nonprofit and helps provide jobs to veterans or those who may have employment challenges for one reason or another. I love Goodwill; they always have low prices and have days where the low prices are on sale! And your money goes to employing people who need work.
The reasons why shopping in thrift stores are beneficial is because you can find some really amazing vintage from people who donate for the cause (or tax write-off!) and then the thrift store sells it for cheap. I can spend up to five hours in a Goodwill depending on the size of the store, because you will find the gems hidden between the non-gems...
That is exactly what I did in the Goodwill on Scottsdale Road and Thunderbird in Scottsdale, Arizona. The day I went in they were not having a sale, but the most I spent on something was $10. There are like 20 racks of clothing, so it took me a long time to sift through everything. If you are serious about finding some good things, take your time. Once you find the right item, take time to really inspect it making sure there are no holes or tears, then check out the label to make sure it is real vintage, and finally - the weird one - smell it. I always smell the item to make sure it was taken well care of from its previous owner. Some things can be dry cleaned, but some things are just ruined for life. For reals.
Have some time? Go check out a thrift store! Sometimes you aren't so lucky, and sometimes you find too much. Either way, it's always fun. Just think of all the stories behind each item in each thrift store out there.
If you want to find really good vintage at a price that is fair and more thought out, please check out The Blue Jean Buyer at 1810 N. Scottsdale Road Tempe, AZ 85281. This has been one of my favorite vintage shops for the last decade. They have an amazing array of Levi's jeans for men and women, as well as other great vintage tees, tops, jackets, and jewelry. If you go to Phoenix, this is a must see. Don't haggle (see my blog post on haggling and the rule to never haggle in a brick and mortar store), instead ask the price and buy multiple items and usually they'll lower the price. Plus the owner is super cute and super friendly and he is always willing to help you find something in your size.