Growing up, I wasn't too much into thrift shops till about my teens, I was more of the yard sale type. Now into my late 20's, I'm pretty pro-thrift, paired with my alterations lady. On that note, I am friends with a fair amount folks whose shops and boutiques prized collections are that of the vintage set. So the question is, what's the difference between thrifting and vintage?
It all comes down to value and convenience. If you've ever been to a good vintage store, the clothing is very well curated. Just as a baseball card collector knows the value of each card new and old, the vintage store owner is very focused on hanging up clothing from a certain era, certain brands, styles, condition, and is constantly educating themselves on fashion of our past. You may still have to dig around at the vintage shop, but ultimately you can expect to find quality, lightly used garments that are pretty close to one of a kind from many top shelf brands and designers from its heyday. Another popular choice for vintage shops is goods made in the USA since textile manufacturing is all but gone here in America.Vintage shops are the art gallery for fine clothing, though not original sticker price, expect to pay a higher premium. The .50 cent bargain bin doesn't exist here.
On the other end we have the thrift store, they have a certain smell that takes a bit getting use to however, the set prices easily make up for the musky scent. The ultimate draw back is the hunt since you must sift through racks and racks of horrible trends, stone washed jeans, and bargain store brands. When you finally do find something good, it's as if you won the lotto, $11.00 is quite the deal for that lightly used Brooks Brothers bespoke suit. A suit in which my friend recently scored on a trip to the thrift shop. Even with top rate alterations, it still doesn't add up to the cost of half a coat sleeve. If your know any one who is big into thrifting, unless you both are very different sizes, they probably won't tell you where their favorite store is since you might snag up that sweet vintage Abercrombie and Fitch coat that they will swear was waiting on them. You know, the outfitters store that once sold outdoor apparel before they went full douche? A far cry from the modern mall juggernaut with over priced, pre-ripped clothing most think of when you mention A&F. Moving on.
At the end of the day, thrift and vintage stores are very similar, yet very different. Sure you can find used designer garments at both places, just expect to make more visits to thrift stores and spend more time shuffling through racks in hopes to find any Prada, or even some premium "Made in the USA" goods from pre 1980 where at the vintage store it will be in the window display.
Either way you're being a Green fashionista for passing up on buying new goods, Mother Earth will thank you and you'll be grateful that your chances of wearing the same shirt as that other guy just went down drastically.