Six Best Second Hand Stores in Toronto

These are the six best places to find amazing deals on high quality used clothing, kitchenware, and furniture in the City of Toronto.

One of the best things about living in the City of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, which numbers over 6.5 million residents, is the volume and quality of second-hand stores that exist in an urban center of this size. Every resident of the GTA, whether they know it or not, has the ability to buy high quality used items at deep discounts.

Don’t bother shopping for bargains on Queen St West

Bargain hunters shouldn’t waste their time in trendy Queen St West thrift stores, or in Kensington Market’s fashionable shops; they are too expensive now. Rather they should seek out the most unfashionable streets and especially those which are relatively close to high income residential neighborhoods.

Think about it. Its the rich people that donate the best merchandise and their only criteria is convenience. So it stands to reason that the best places to shop for used goods, are the ones with busy donation centers that exist closest to the luxury houses of the city’s most affluent families.

Antique pickers in Toronto follow my route

The list published here is my own route. These are my own pictures. I start in the Beaches area and work my way west, up to St Clair Ave near Forest Hill, west to High Park, and end my day’s pickings in Parkdale. My name is Rob Campbell and I write the Antique pickers blog, Dumpdiggers The stores listed below are the six best places to find really cheap, and really awesome stuff.

Salvation army, Value Village and Goodwill are each very different businesses.

The best stores are Salvation Army, Value Village and Goodwill because stuff is being donated fresh every day, and the people who work there don’t have a clue about antiques and collectibles. It seems to me that in such places the shelves are absolutely filled with opportunities to turn a profit – for many people its a big game to connect the collectibles with the collector.

Here are the six best second hand stores in Toronto, listed in no particular order,

1. Salvation Army Parliament Thrift Store, 252 Parliament Street between Shuter and Dundas St E.

Located near the trendy Riverdale area, this store has a terrific selection of used clothes and clothing accessories. In particular, there is always a good selection of dress shirts in this location and in many cases they come complete with designer labels and paper tags from much more expensive clothing stores in nearby shopping malls. Somebody bought the clothes and didnt like the items, or didnt like how they fit and for whatever reason they couldnt or didnt return the goods. This store has a lot of that. The aisles are well organized and well maintained by staff. The venue is bright and sunny with huge front windows complimented by rows of opulent oevrhead lighting and the music is Golden Oldies and classic rock.

2. Salvation Army St. Clair West Thrift Store, 665 St. Clair Ave. West @ Wychwood
Among other things, this store specializes in factory second mattresses and bed frames. Almost all of the mattresses found here are still in their orginal plastic packaging, and so they are safe to buy. Toronto has recently had a bed bug infestation, and so its important to double check all uncovered mattresses for any sign of the insects. The store also has a wide sel;ection of bedding, and again most of the pillows are still in their original plastic wrappers.

The book depository is really terrific here and offers a wide selection of financial industry textbooks. It was in here that I found good books on early Canadian pioneers of industry – Massey who was the quintessential early Canadian industrialist and property owner (and sharehold of the Toronto City Dairy) , and George Gooderham, who was a distiller and banker and an early bankruptcy trustee back when debt was often punished with jail sentences. Gooderham started the TD Bank. The book section in this location is really terrific and I find myself loitering here for hours…

3 Salvation Army Parkdale Thrift Store, 1447 Queen St. W

This store is located in the heart of Parkdale, which is one of the poorest neighbourhoods of Toronto, and yet there is where I have found some of the very best stuff. Don’t be fooled here – there is real wealth here just a few blocks away on King Street, and west of Roncesvalles in High Park. There’s a large Polish and Ukrainian community down here too. Sometimes you find good stuff that has obviously been donated from these Eastern European households, and in many cases the entire estates of widows and grandmothers has been unceremoniously donated here. It was from one of these families that I found a spoon rack that still had six or eight specimens from Europe . One spoon from Hungary was silver with gold inlay in the handle, and I bought the entire rack for about twelve dollars and sold that particular spoon to a gold buyer in Ottawa for almost $70. That’s a good days work.

4. Goodwill Store, 28 Roncesvalles Ave. @ Queen St. W

Another busy spot for donations, Goodwill has different organization and business management consulting practice that leads me to believe this is perhaps not the best place to donate goods, but that’s another article. This retail chain is still a great place to shop for used goods. But you should know, while front line employees make $15/hr, the manager here makes almost $70K year, while the president and CEO of Goodwill earn over $300K a year salary. These individuals are well paid to be charitable and help the poor.


5. Value Village at 924 Queen St. E. at Logan

This Value Village is probably the most over-shopped in the city, and everytime I visit I see atleast one squad of Queen St hipsters and Urban Warrior types in here rooting through the leather jackets and boots. The floor to ceiling clothing racks really cut the light from the windows, and the effect is a rather dark store that’s lit entirely by ugly florescent fixtures that line the ceiling. So the mood is sombre and there’s no music here. The principles of super – retailing are lost on this organization.

6. Value village – 1319 Bloor ST W, Toronto – at Bloor and Lansdowne.

Unlike the east end Value Village, the west end destination is twice as large and better maintained. There is music here and an ocean of kitchenware. There are lots and lots of artist supplies here – everything from pictures frames to used canvasses, brushs, palettes and paints. The business must have inherited the contents of a failed art supply store for there are a great many products that are still in the original packaging. There is a strip joint right across the street and a crossbow / archery range on the other side of the store.

Old stuff is not junk. High technology items like IBM personal computers, solar panels and stainless steel vacuum seal food containers can be found inside almost all of these clearing houses.