Black and Brown, Crossroads are underrated thrift stores

January 17, 2020 — by Anishi Patel and Sandhya Sundaram Word Count: 670

When we watch popular thrifting videos on YouTube (hello Emma Chamberlain), YouTubers seem to find priceless vintage treasures at stores like Goodwill and Savers. It’s all a lie.

After experiencing egregious clothing-induced-vertigo in these stores and finding only an assortment of classic grandma attire, we searched for a more high-end thrift store that was still affordable. 

We decided to kidnap senior Connie Liang and visit two lesser-known vintage thrift stores: Crossroads and Black and Brown. 

Our shopping trip was eco-friendly too. Thrift stores provide an alternative to fast-fashion retailers like Forever 21. Crossroads, for example, forms relationships with retail stores that allow them to pick from surplus clothing, and they also try to bring shoppers into the sell-back cycle.

Both Crossroads and Black and Brown are on the same San Jose street near Santana Row, so we hit two birds with one stone and managed to find affordable items at both places.

Anishi: We drove to Crossroads first and I’ll be honest, I was scared to let my car out of my sight. The area, though it was directly between Valley Fair mall and Santana Row, was shady at best. Crossroads wasn’t visually appealing from the outside, but the clothing was organized neatly and the attendants were friendly. Among racks of vintage jeans, graphic hoodies, accessories and secondhand shoes, we managed to find some keepers. 

Sandhya: When looking for graphic tees and hoodies, a good tip is to check both the men’s and women’s sections. Since most hoodies have a baggy fit, no one will actually know if you shopped in the wrong section. There were racks of band tees, and hypebeast tees that looked vintage and groovy.

From Crossroads, I wound up buying a pair of black flare jeans and a black graphic hoodie for a total of $22.

Anishi: I would like to inform anyone thinking of using the fitting rooms that backpacks need to be checked in at the front desk. In my paranoia and desire to keep my laptop close, I took my backpack inside the fitting room and ended up having it searched by employees. I promise, I’m not a thief! The Lucky Brand boot-cut jeans I got for $15 were enough of a steal.

Our next stop was Black and Brown. With its scented candles, mood lighting and vintage-decorated interior, we walked in thinking we wouldn’t be able to afford anything. We were so wrong. 

Sandhya: As soon as we opened the door, employees rushed to help us, and I had to consciously make an effort to not bring every piece of clothing into the fitting rooms with me. The clothes selection gave off major classy vintage vibes, and included a variety of sizes and styles. 

Anishi: I wanted a newsboy cap. I almost bought it, but a pair of barely-used Timbs caught my attention and I forgot about the rest of the store. I had found my solemate (excuse the bad pun). The boots were waterproof, and had no signs of wear apart from a slight crease. I mean, the rubber soles looked like they could be brand new. They fit perfectly, and were only $55. 

You read that right. $55. The same boots on the Timberland website are $170, so I was more than happy to buy them from Black and Brown.

Sandhya: Pressed by time, I only bought one pair of high-waisted mom jeans for $15, but I will definitely be coming back. Overall, this experience overcompensated for every other bad thrifting trip we’ve had. The biggest difference between stores like these and Goodwill is that the clothes are handpicked. The prices are a little bit higher, but still preferable to a typical retail store. 

Black and Brown and Crossroads have made the top of our to-shop-at lists, and you’ll definitely catch us thrifting at them again.