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Bakersfield Thrift Culture?

Picture this, you are walking down isles and isles of clothes, searching, looking for something that peaks your interest. You pick up a shirt, a little dingy but the color has not completely faded yet. First thing you check is the tag, you are interested to see if the shirt is name brand, its not, but that’s ok the design on the front of the shirt is cool enough for you to pull an outfit out. You throw the shirt in your cart and you continue your search. At the end of the trip you count your spoils, which is about 10 shirts. All ranging from “Band tees” to Hawaiian shirts. You approach the register and the cashier give you your total, “that will be 7 dollars and 50 cents” You realize that your initial spending limit was 20 dollars, you don’t even spend half of that, yet you are walking away with damn near a new wardrobe, that is not only on trend but has a story to tell, because who ever owned the clothes before you, had no idea what they had.

I have just given you a little insight to what it is is like to go thrifting. Most people think thrifters spend their time searching through dusty, nasty dirty old clothes. Looking for clothes that either their dad or grandpa would wear. And yes, sometimes it’s like that [depending on the store] but over the last decade there has been a huge increase in the quality of not only the stores but with the clothes that they put on their shelves. I have always thought that thrifting is more than that, thrifting tells a story. Every piece of clothing has a story, whether the shirt is Versace or Hanes. The clothes carry history and most times the older or more vintage the pieces the more the item has to tell. I mean let us not forget that there is a huge market for vintage clothes. I mean just ask your neighborhood Bakersfield Vintage store.


song makes me cringe!

Now the original thought of donating the clothes is for people who need them, the less fortunate. The outreach programs behind the stores play a big part in the community. Even the sale of the clothes plays a part. And while stores like The Salvation Army and Goodwill do accomplish their goal for public outreach, these stores are prime hunting grounds for pieces of history and culture. Especially the stores in Bakersfield. I have been thrifting in Bakersfield for the better part of a decade and I can attest to the growth and evolution of thrifting in the city. When I started there were but few thrift stores, the Salvation Army on Ming and the one on 19th and Union. There were a couple Goodwills on White Ln and Coffee. There was even RAD Thrift, now called Bernard downtown and a few other little ones sprinkled around town. Let us not forget the abundance of antique shops that litter 19th street, such as the infamous Woolworths. I was always a believer that the nicer the are the nicer the spoils of war were, and I would have to say that it holds up, Bakersfield is a perfect place to thrift and I know someone who has been treasure hunting out here in Bakersfield and has his fair share of spoils.

Let me formerly introduce you to the man who is know (among his friends) as The Thrift King of Bakersfield

Introduce yourself and tell us how long you have been thrifting in Bakersfield

– What is going on, my name is Elijah. I have been thrifting in Bakersfield for about 8 years. I moved to Bakersfield from Virginia in 2012 to finish school. At that point I had been thrifting for about 2 years so I was somewhat experienced, so when I moved to Bakersfield I immediately ran to the local thrift store to see what this new town had to offer. Since 2012 I have become quite familiar with the thrift store. I moved away for a few years but always kept coming back to visit and on those trips the thrift store was always one of my first stops. I had to see what other shit Bakersfield had for me. I always though it was funny that I talk about thrifting like its a skill or a completion. Most people just look at it at as way to buy cheaper clothes, but I’ve always looked at it as a way to find the coolest pieces possible.

Are the pieces you find a good reflection of the cities culture? Brands like Carhart, Harley Davidson etc.

– Honestly no, I’ve always said that the pieces you find are a direct reflection of the city , I mean who else is donating their old clothes, but for what the city of Bakersfield is to everyone who was not born here is predominantly white, meaning that’s who should be donating to thrift store, so we should be seeing a lot of brands that care to white people. But that’s not the case. I have a many of streetwear brands that cater to people of color. Its honestly crazy to see.

Are Bakersfield garage sales better than thrift stores?

– I would say that they are not better, but garage sales are a definite reflection of the city, I have been to a couple garage sales and have seen cowboy boots for sale lol.

In your opinion which Bakersfield thrift store is the best and which is the worst?

– In all my years of thrifting in Bakersfield I would have to say that Rad (Bernard’s) is definitely the best thrift store out here. I have found some of my better pieces there. The most consistent though has to be The Salvation Army, specifically the one on Ming. You are almost guaranteed to find at least one item. The best for furniture though, has to be Goodwill. They even have shit still in the box. But yea I would say Rad then Salvation then Goodwill.

Does Bakersfield have a thrift culture?

– This is a loaded question.. but I would have to say yea it does, and the reason I say is because back in 2012 when I started out thrifting in the city, it was raw. The stores were a big pile of clothes that you had to fish through to find your size and color shirt you wanted. No one was really going out to the stores like that either, I could spend hours thrifting and not really run into a single person who I would have to compete with. Fast forward years later and it seems like the whole city is suddenly into thrifting. There is a thriving vintage store downtown that I have a good hunch is being supples by kids who are thrifting on behave of the owner. So yea I would say Bakersfield has a thrift culture simply because it seems like the whole city is in on the thrift game.

What is your thrifting process, for someone who does thrift as much any tips you can give them on their next trip

– oh wouldn’t y’all like to know aha, but that’s a good questions. Over the years you definitely develop a technique when it comes to thrifting. I know a lot of people are probably reading this and thinking I am crazy but those are the people who probably always want to go thrifting and never really find the cooler shit. I usually start off with walking down the aisle looking for anything that jumps out and grabs my attention right. Maybe it is the color or a certain style. Then I move on by colors, starting with the black and white then moving to the colors. Then I move on to the hats, if they aren’t close by then move on to furniture and then jewelry. This is just my specific style and it hasn’t failed me yet.

What are some of the pieces you ran across during your trips to the thrift store?

– So I don’t want brag or nothing but I think I might have found some of the best pieces Bakersfield thrift stores have to offer. A few years ago I ran across this 2000’s era BAPE hoodie, you know the ones that zip all the way up. The funny thing about that hoodie is that I have had it for like 6 years right it wasn’t until last year that I found out that it was a BAPE x KAWS collab hoodie. As soon as I found that out I had to make sure that it was legit and it was. That’s probably one of my favorite pieces. I also found this 1994 Soccer Olympic windbreaker. Funny story about that jacket is that I had a dude pull over while driving then get out his car and run across the street and ask to buy it off my back lol. Any normal person might of said yea, but I wasn’t with it plus it was cold lol. *Will link some photos from his spoils down below

Well thanks for taking the time out to answer to questions about thrifting.

– aye man anytime lol in all honesty I love any chance I get to talk about thrifting.

So as you can see there is at least one person that believes Bakersfields has a culture in thrifting, between all the stores, all the antique shops and even Bakersfield Vintage and the obvious increase to thrift store patreons. But I don’t know, what are your thoughts on thrifting in Bakersfield, is the thrifting scene better than you would expect or is it all hype.

  1. 1994 WorldCup Soccer Jacket

  2. Rihanna Puma Creepers

  3. BapexKaws Collab Jacket

  4. Brew Crew Bomber Jacket

  5. *Ice Cream* Shirt

  6. Vintage Dr. Who Graphic Tee

  7. Flaming Dice Bowling Shirt

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