Here’s how to navigate the region’s thrift shops, auctions, and consignment stores to score brag-worthy deals on high-quality clothing, furniture, décor, and so much more.
You can credit one big reason for why Lehigh Valley is seen as a hub for second-hand bargain hunters: heritage.
“The northeast region of the U.S., Pennsylvania in particular, has a thriving antique culture,” says Kate Kareha, owner of Bijou Penn Creative, a content marketing firm in Allentown, and a local collector. “As a result of our history, an abundance of old barns and craftsman culture trickles down to our local antique malls, auction houses, estate sales, and thrift shops.”
The benefits of buying second-hand go far beyond finding cool stuff, says Kareha. “You’re shopping more sustainability, for well-made objects that will last, and often at a better value than your average retail store.”
One good place to start is at one of the many Lehigh Valley antique malls. These sprawling markets feature multiple vendors at one location. Vendors curate their booths and carry a reliable inventory of original art, antique furniture, décor, and collectibles, says Kareha. Weil Antique Center, Zionsville Antique Mall, and Slatington Marketplace are all great antique malls to browse. Cottage Crafters holds monthly auctions (more on those later) and Renningers hosts flea markets. And bookmark the events page of the Allentown Fairgrounds Agricultural Hall for upcoming antique sales and collectors’ shows.
While you can find new additions to your wardrobe at antique malls, second-hand clothing stores are a better bet. The Attic, RC Moore Vintage & Millinery, Style Encore, and Divine Resale all offer the opportunity to buy lightly worn, name-brand clothing at discount prices. For the kids, Bears Repeating has a wide selection of second-hand children’s clothing and toys. You can also consign to these types of stores. Just call ahead to determine if—and what—the store is buying, along with what condition the item must be in when you bring it in to sell.
Lastly, don’t pass up auctions and estate sales, says Kareha. “If it’s big, unique, or in abundance, the buyers who want it shop at auction.” That means you could see everything from a fleet of golf carts to mid-century modern furniture, she says. Tom Hall Auctions and K.D. Smith Auction & Son both offer online and live auctions. For estate sales—large scale property liquidation events—use resources such EstateSales.Net, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace.
And enjoy the hunt, says Kareha, “Finding a second-hand gem is thrilling. The major rules are that there are no rules. Although, you must be respectful and never assume an item will still be there tomorrow.”
With so many great places to explore, you'll want to get started right away. Start planning your trip at DiscoverLehighValley.com and make plans to visit the top antique and specialty shops in the region.