Vintage Clothing (credit: Randy Yagi)
When Bay Area shoppers talk about vintage clothing stores, they’re usually talking about Valencia or Haight Street in San Francisco. But since vintage clothing has and will likely always be popular locally, other cities across the Bay Area should not be overlooked. In fact, the East Bay is enjoying a renaissance of sorts, with several new vintage boutique stores opening in the past few years to compliment the venerable retro stores in Berkeley and elsewhere. Here’s a look at five of the best vintage clothing stores in the East Bay.
25891 Mission Blvd.
With more than 25,000 new items added every week to this 33,000 square foot facility, shoppers can buy all sorts of low-cost merchandise, including vintage clothing at bargain prices. Founded nearly 35 years ago in the East Bay city of Vallejo, the family owned business not only sells an enormous collection of retro style clothing, shoes and fashion accessories, but also affordable housewares, toys, framed artwork, sports equipment and an abundance of more contemporary clothing. A popular shopping destination for local residents and students at the nearby California State University East Bay, Eco Thrift is located halfway between the Hayward and South Hayward BART stations.
1601 Second Ave.
Oakland, CA 94606
With consistent praise from both customers and the press, Halmoni is, quite simply stated, a vintage clothing heaven. Founded by beloved owner Natasha Harden, Halmoni opened in 2011 and has since gained an ever-growing fan base. A passionate supporter of celebrating one’s body regardless of shape or size, Halmoni hosts a monthly body positive clothing swap known as A Naked Lady Soiree, in addition to hosting ongoing art exhibitions from talented local artists and other special events. Halmoni is the Korean word for “grandmother”, in a tribute to the owner’s heritage and her own grandmother, whose image is featured prominently on the store’s website. Sample items from the online retail store include a gorgeous vintage emerald dress, a classy vintage Alyn Paige shirt and an exquisite vintage winter coat.
2398 Telegraph Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94704
A part of San Francisco’s vintage clothing icon Retro City Fashions, Mars Mercantile is easily one of the best known and most visited vintage clothing stores in the East Bay. Located just a few blocks from the UC Berkeley campus, Mars Mercantile holds an enormous selection of men’s and women’s vintage and thrift clothing from “cheap to chic”. Clothes racks on both levels are categorized by fashion era or particular fashion style, so incoming customers know where to find what they’re looking for quickly, such as the always popular flapper section as well as the classic 50s, in vogue 60s and the 70s prom dresses sections. Over the years, Mars Mercantile has routinely been named the best vintage clothing store in the East Bay.
4188 Piedmont Ave.
Oakland, CA 94611
Located in Oakland’s Piedmont Avenue neighborhood, Mercy Vintage elevated itself even further by being selected the highest ranked East Bay vintage clothing store from a recent Best of the Bay reader poll. Featuring a well curated collection of vintage and high end designer clothing and accessories, the fabulously impressive boutique is led by co-owners Karen Anderson and Rachel Cubra, who describe their day jobs as “professional treasure hunters”. Their current trove of fashion items includes hard to find items like a vintage Versace linen swing jacket, a 1940s sailor dress and a 1920s metallic lace dress. Mercy Vintage also hosts an online store and also buys vintage men and women’s clothing and accessories from the early 1900s to the 1980s.
5488 College Ave.
Oakland, CA 94618
Part of what makes a vintage clothing store stand out in the Bay Area is a great selection of unique items and stellar service. Those traits are what makes Pretty Penny such a popular spot to shop for chic clothing from a bygone era. Another popular business named best vintage clothing store in the East Bay, Pretty Penny was founded by Sarah Dunbar, who started her career in retro clothing at Berkeley’s Mars Mercantile. Like many of the Bay Area’s best vintage clothing stores, Pretty Penny has an online store, with current selections like a 1970s bow neck blouse, a 1960s vibrant orange cocktail dress and a vintage tapestry mini skirt.