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Secondhand America: Melrose Trading Post

America's wealth of secondhand stores is not exactly a secret, but it it can be pretty intimidating in its vastness. Follow our writer as she tip-toes through junk, browses the shelves of antique malls and bargains with vintage brokers, reporting back on just what makes our resale shops so damn good.

Los Angeles' Melrose Trading Post is where you want to be when the desire to shop secondhand hits and it's not a Rose Bowl Flea Market day. The Post is held every Sunday from 9am to 5pm in the Fairfax High School parking lot. Park easily for free behind the school, and pay the $2 entry fee for access to hundreds of vendors shilling goods both new and old. While the Post can sometimes seem more like a fashion blogger event than shopping destination (so many well-dressed youths wandering between the stalls), don't let the (excellent) people watching distract you from the task at hand.

The Post is basically a treasure trove of awesome vintage things: vintage clothing by the rack-full, rows of vintage shoes, stacks of vintage designer purses—Hermès and Dooney & Burke—stalls of vintage housewares. Because this is a trading post and not a dedicated vintage mall, there is also a great selection of new and reworked vintage goods (standouts included a metal bow tie pasta ring, punkified button-ups and a healthy stack of studs-adorned boots and Converse sneakers.) There was even a vendor with a seemingly endless, rainbow-colored collection of denim cut-offs. As the selection is utterly overwhelming, it's best to come to the Post with a plan of attack: give everything a once-over before committing and don't neglect the nooks and crannies. Price tags are pretty high here—anywhere from obnoxiously high to just a bit more than you're willing to pay—as it is in LA proper and vendors set their own fees. Feel free to haggle, though don't expect too much leeway on the pricing.

My best finds? A (presumably dead stock) owl-magnifier necklace for five bones, random housewares for something like a buck a piece, and a gorgeous vintage statement necklace for around $20. So there are definitely deals to be found here, though that's not really the norm. Round out your trip (or break up the middle of it) with a trip to the Post's food court; the day I went you could order a crêpe and wash it down with a dual-flavored snow cone. Sweet goods punctuated by sweet eats? Don't mind if we do.

Freelance writer Alison Baitz (who has also written for Bust and Refinery29 among others) is so excited that she got to visit thrift stores and antique malls as part of her job.

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