Stores offer second hand, spooky costumes for Halloween


Henry Benton

A costumer browses through a rack of Halloween costumes set out for the season at a Salvation Army.

An Ngo, City Life Editor

This Halloween, Americans are expected to spend more than ever, with an expected $3.3 billion to be spent on costumes according to the National Retail Federation. Perhaps the scariest things about Halloween will be the massive amount of waste produced by costumes, many of which are made of primarily plastic, that are worn just once. Instead of buying clothing items that can never be worn again, purchasing clothes that are versatile and of high enough quality from thrift stores can help to reduce waste. While shopping second hand can be intimidating, many thrift stores have curated spooky sections for Halloween shoppers. 

An Ngo

Ragstock $$

Ragstock is the place to go if you want a wide selection of recycled clothing while having the option to browse new Halloween costumes and accessories to complete your outfit. The two-story store in Wicker Park is spacious with two dressing rooms. There are curated racks of recycled lab coats, referee shirts, prom dresses and even wedding dresses. Instead of wearing a flimsy princess costume from Spirit Halloween, opt for an affordable vintage prairie dress. You’ll be able to find versatile pieces, many of which you can wear again after the holiday passes. The racks are organized and the stock is massive. Ragstock has three Chicago locations:  Lakeview, Wicker Park and the Magnificent Mile.

An Ngo

Buffalo Exchange $$

At Buffalo Exchange, you can not only find a used Halloween costume but can sell your old costumes and receive either 50% of the selling price in store credit or 25% in cash. Unlike Ragstock, Buffalo Exchange sources its clothes from customers. Because of this, the store offers a wide variety but low quantity of costumes, so if you have something specific in mind, this might not be the best place to go. On the other hand, if you’re not sure about what you would like to dress up as, this is a perfect place to go and have some fun searching through the racks. Both packaged costumes and some loose ones hang on the racks. Near the door are accessories ranging from wigs, hats and jewelry, and throughout the store are a wide selection of shoes. The dressing rooms are spacious and are perfect for shopping with friends.

An Ngo

Village Discount Outlet Stores $

The vast Village Discount Outlet Stores can be intimidating, but if you’re willing to spend the time and energy to look through their massive selection, you’re likely to find treasures for an amazing price. While they have a large selection of children’s costumes, it can be harder to find adult ones. Your best bet is to come with an idea of what you want to dress up as that doesn’t require overly specific pieces. For example, if you want to be a witch, this is the perfect place to find a simple black dress that you only have to spend a few bucks on. This is by far the most affordable option, with the majority of pieces priced around $5. Even though the clothes are cheaper here, it doesn’t mean they’re lower quality. What you’re saving in money, you’re paying in effort. The thrift store has 11 locations in Chicago and the suburbs. Keep in mind that the stores don’t have fitting rooms.

An Ngo

Gilda’s Designer Thrift Boutique $$$

If you want to shop small and local, Gilda’s Designer Thrift Boutique is the place to go. Tucked away near the 51st Street Metra station with a curated selection of vintage and designer goods, the store has fun, quirky and timeless pieces. Gilda’s is the perfect place for creating a decade-inspired look. Whether you want to dress up as a “Clueless” character or a disco dancer, you’ll certainly find something here that you can cherish for years.