A First-Timer’s Guide to Thrifting in Ballard

Find that classic cowboy boots + flannel combo 🤠

A turquoise sign outside of Gold Dogs on Ballard Ave reads "GOLD DOGS" and lists a "BOGO SALE" in chalk

📸: Adam Kubota

When I went to college, my parents pulled the classic empty nester downsize and moved to a fashionable condo in Ballard. This meant I spent breaks from school in a room the size of a postage stamp. So I passed my time on Ballard Avenue, grabbing a coffee at Umbria, lunch at Hattie’s Hat, and, mostly, window shopping.

The neighborhood began not as a part of Seattle but as its own city that was later incorporated into Seattle. This independent nature persists in what people will describe as Old Ballard. It’s a place, on Ballard Ave, but it’s also an energy: think grumpy fishermen, flannel shirts, rubber boots—an overall vibe. This feeling of Old Ballard extends beyond its cobblestone streets and unused railroad tracks and into the area’s general style. 

The following stores will take you shopping mostly through Old Ballard from South to North, but with some added spots in other locations. Keep your eyes peeled along the way for restaurants, art, and late-night shenanigans


Gold Dogs 🥇🐕

5221 Ballard Ave NW

📸: Courtesy Gold Dogs

Two people show off sweatshirts from Gold Dogs. On the left, a burnt orange Nirvana shirt. On the right, a blue Nirvana shirt.

Country Western wear one-stop-shop Gold Dogs has made a home and a name for itself in Ballard. The store just passed 11 years in business, bringing boots, belt buckles, and bolo ties to the masses. Co-owner Emily Goldsmith hesitates to call Gold Dogs a “Seattle staple,” but I’ll say it for her! While you may luck out on cool Western pieces at other vintage shops, Gold Dogs is a sure bet. I got dangerously close to the flannel section, which can work for you whether you’re going for Western or grunge.

Gold Dogs aims to provide Western wear for all bodies, and Goldsmith emphasizes her attempt to source a wide range of sizes for the store. Not everything in Gold Dogs is vintage, but the vintage items are immaculate. A black and white marbled belt buckle almost came home with me, and I don’t even own a belt! Gold Dogs is beautifully curated and organized to draw you into a world of turquoise leather and denim.

Gold Dogs is giving: Thelma & Louise. Your friend who just got back from Santa Fe. The television show Yellowstone.


Ballard Consignment 📦🎩

5459 Leary Ave

📸: Courtesy Ballard Consignment

It’s too easy to get lost browsing Ballard Consignment. Something shiny will catch your eye from the large windows on the corner of Leary Way NW and Market Street. And once you step inside, you’re lost in the eclectic mix of furniture, art, and décor. Why yes, that is the velvet sapphire couch of your dreams. Or a life-size bronze Great Dane statue you didn’t know you needed.

New items arrive at the store daily because you can also sell your stuff at Ballard Consignment. Get rid of your gently used furniture, tchotchkes, and collectibles! This is great because you’ll need the money once you’ve explored the massive 3,000-square-foot store and redecorated your entire abode.

The store leans toward vintage, modern midcentury if that’s your vibe. Ballard Consignment also offers delivery! (This is great because my friends no longer throw out their backs to help me move.)


Lucky Vintage 🍀👖

5424 Ballard Ave NW

📸: Adam Kubota

The storefront for Lucky Vintage on Ballard Ave, featuring vintage western wear in the window

Lucky Vintage is a cozy enclave of highly curated vintage. Clothing hangs up the walls all the way to the ceiling. Noticeably, gauzy white dresses dangle just out of reach from dirty hands. Among new garments shines a radiant Dolly Parton pinball machine. The game is, sadly, unplayable, but Dolly’s words can join you as you shop: “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap!”

While you may need to be a techie to afford a big shopping spree at Lucky, there are treasures at all price points. A gift shop t-shirt from The Alamo was my best find of the day. (My mom is from San Antonio; it’s wild to think a high school classmate of hers could have worn this in the ’70s.) I’ll say that Lucky’s range of sizes can be slightly disappointing, but I think the selection has recently improved.

Lucky Vintage is giving: Brooches as the accessory of 2023. Babies in slightly creepy vintage playsuits. The coolest t-shirts no one else will have.


Evergreen Goodwill 🙏💖

6400 8th Ave NW

📸: Courtesy Evergreen Goodwill

When I lived in Ballard, I would walk to the Ballard Goodwill every other weekend to find new treasures to decorate my empty studio. (Yes, I was that weird person walking down the avenue carrying a large rug. No regrets.) Because the Ballard Goodwill has a lot of things going for it. One, it’s huge! One of the biggest stores in the city. Two, location. Nestled in the suburbs of Ballard and spitting distance to Phinney Ridge, I found the quality of donations to be better. The home goods and framed artwork were especially top-notch.

Pro tip: come early! The early bird does get the worm—or a severely marked-down J.Crew sweater. And know that shopping at Goodwill can be hit or miss. Sometimes, I leave without buying a single item, and sometimes, I walk away with a whole new wardrobe. Patience and luck are your thrift store friends.

Final word: I’d avoid dropping off your used items at this location. The lines for drop-off are notoriously long, and wait times can be high. Consider donating at a different location. After shopping, you can cross the street for low-key delicious teriyaki at Choice Deli & Grocery, my go-to after-shopping treat. All that bargain hunting will make you famished!


ReStyle for Ryther ⛏️💎

5435 Ballard Ave NW

📸: Adam Kubota

A brick storefront for ReStyle for Ryder on Ballard Ave with a blue overhanging sign

Directly across the street from Lucky Vintage, ReStyle for Ryther is a decidedly different kind of shopping experience. The store is a non-profit stocked by direct donations. This sourcing model gives you more of an experience like shopping at a Goodwill or Value Village. ReStyle requires more digging, but the hunt is half the fun. The size of ReStyle is very manageable, so you can search with the confidence that you won’t miss the good stuff. I took a speedy trip recently and still found COS pants, an Eileen Fisher bag, and a fabulous vintage handmade sweater.

You will also leave ReStyle with confidence; the women who volunteer in the store are incredibly complimentary and happy to help if you’re digging for something specific. Outside of clothing, ReStyle carries home goods, décor, accessories, books, etc etc etc. I left my last ReStyle trip brokenhearted because the aforementioned COS pants didn’t fit, but disappointment is all in a good day’s thrift.

ReStyle is giving: “OMG look at this top.” Prices that seem too low. Sweet older women.


Space Oddity Vintage 🛰🚀

5318 22nd Ave NW

📸: Courtesy Space Oddity Vintage

A George Nelson "Action Desk" at Space Oddity Vintage Furniture Studio in Seattle, Washington in Ballard.

I almost don’t want to spill the beans on this hidden gem. Hidden is the key word since the store is easily missed and partially below street level of old town Ballard. But Seattle designers and furniture aficionados know that the best spot for beautiful and affordable second-hand vintage is here. I’ve been a fan for years, hungrily coveting most of their wares.

This quirky store offers a curated collection of authentic midcentury modern, vintage industrial, contemporary modern furniture, and design oddities. Owner and craftsman Todd Werny restores and refurbishes furniture mostly from the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. Werny often creates custom paint, lighting and design embellishments, giving pieces that Space Oddity design spin to the items.

Currently, the shop is by appointment only. However, the owner assured me the store would soon be open to the public on weekends (the first time since 2019). For now, vintage scavengers can watch the store’s Facebook and Instagram pages to see what’s up for sale. Be warned that items tend to sell out fast. Plus, the store offers free delivery in Ballard and just $35 in the Seattle area.


Ballyhoo Curiosity Shop 🎁🦋

5445 Ballard Ave NW

📸: Courtesy Ballyhoo

A cute but creepy pumpkin candle holder

Weird, bizarre, and slightly unsettling, Ballyhoo Curiosity Shop is an extraordinary departure from a day of normalcy. Open the store’s door on Ballard Ave and descend past its taxidermy vignette; you enter a store unlike others in Seattle. Ballyhoo carries beautiful goods of the natural, almost natural, and material world. Its insect collections are one of my favorite things to look at. (It’s only a matter of time before a butterfly comes home with me.)

Of course, taxidermy is not for everyone, but it’s fun to see the variety of animals Ballyhoo has and, in some instances, try to figure out what the original animal even was. On the tamer side, Ballyhoo has gorgeous mineral and antique glass right for your curio cabinet. Vintage photographs, home oddities, and ephemera make Ballyhoo a time warp to browse, and, like a casino, there are no windows, so you can really fall down the rabbit hole.

Ballyhoo is giving: Wednesday Addams energy. Not for Vegans. Being in Ballard while not being in Ballard.


Sonic Boom 🎵💥

2209 NW Market St

📸: Courtesy Sonic Boom

The exterior of Sonic Boom with a light up sign

Since 1997, Sonic Boom has been a first stop for Seattle music fans. The Ballard record store maintains a first-rate selection of vinyl, CDs, and cassettes, including new releases and used media. I stopped by the other day and was pleased to see the store now houses its cassettes in a new and larger spot. I’m a massive fan of cassettes and couldn’t let myself linger. A CD of Beyonce’s Dangerously in Love also caught my eye; Bey beckoned me with her crystal shrug.

If you want to make a little money to spend in Ballard, Sonic Boom can help you—cuz Sonic Boom buys! Bring a few records or CDs you haven’t spun in a while and turn them into cash. (They also take cassettes.) At the very least, Sonic Boom is worth some window shopping. They always have elaborate window displays, the kind you may expect from a department store. Currently, the window features the new Weyes Blood release. 

Sonic Boom is giving: HiFi nerds. Buying tapes because they’re cheap. Wondering if anyone in the store thinks you’re hot.


Simple & Just 🙂👍

5221 Ballard Ave NW, Suite B

📸: Courtesy Simple & Just

The inside of Open and Just in Ballard, Seattle

Want to shop secondhand and support a women-owned nonprofit?

Simple & Just sells gently used clothing donated by the community, with 100% of the earnings used to support survivors of exploitation. Funding goes toward safe shelters, mental health services, and the development of life skills.

I discovered the store with its colorful window display tucked between Gold Dogs and Kings Hardware on the bustling avenue. Like a magpie, the gold accessories caught my eye. Inside the store, the clothes were stylish and carefully curated for the changing seasons.

Check out their house brand, “Athena,” handmade pieces created through a partnership with Youthcare, which allows young at-risk artisans to learn valuable job skills. Donating your gently used men and women’s clothes and accessories is another way to show support. Items not utilized will be given to local nonprofits, so nothing is wasted.



Miranda Hardy

Miranda is a Seattle-based writer, musician, and gal about town. You can find her at the library, your local bar’s karaoke night, and staring longingly at the Ballard Locks. Don’t ask her about AI, pop music, or why she loves Seattle because you’ll never get your ear back.

Sandra Woolf

Sandra is a writer and film programmer currently haunting the PNW. Fueled by iced coffee and love of all things pink (don’t tell the other goths). She’s most interested in finding the sexy dark corners of Seattle.

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