The Art of Thrifting in New York City
Scott Hogan, Contributing Writer
Recent trends reflect that thrifted items, once a cheap option to name-brand shopping, have become coveted. It seems that everybody is styling worn-in jackets, one of a kind T-shirts, and vintage jeans. Thrifting often allows you to buy quality clothes at a discounted price simply because they’ve been lightly used. Even I have spent many hours in the beloved Salvation Army in my hometown. One of the largest perks of thrifting is avoiding fast-fashion stores like Forever 21 that are polluting the environment, partaking in unethical employment practices and producing poorly constructed garments made to deteriorate.
Thrifting may seem simple, but there’s a definite technique to thrifting that not everyone knows. So from my closet to yours, a comprehensive New York City thrifting guide.
First, here are some tips that every thrifter should know.
- Don’t buy basics at a thrift store. If you need a white T-shirt just go to Uniqlo.
- Seeing all of those racks can be intimidating when you first come in. A good way to sift through the clothes is to go by color and texture. Without looking at each item, browse for colors and fabrics you like or find interesting before pulling clothes off the rack.
- Go in knowing what you want. Without a plan, browsing the clothes can feel like an endless task, but with that varsity cardigan in back of your mind, you can be a shopper on a mission.
- Just because the clothes are cheap does not mean you should buy something you normally would ignore. Chances are, if you’re not completely enamored with it, it will end up sitting in your closet.
- Keep an eye out for large amounts of wear and tear on the clothes. You can often bargain with the vendor and get it for less, or you can just leave it. It’s not worth buying something that will break down in a month.
- Don’t sleep on the accessories! You can totally find some pretty awesome stuff in thrift stores that aren’t just vintage jackets. Look for trendy scarves, rings and cool bags.
- Slow it down. Don’t get impatient –it takes time to shop and there’s no way around it.
Now, you may be asking where to even find these elusive thrift stores, and which are best for your shopping needs. Well don’t worry, I’ve got your back.
10 W 13th St, New York, NY
23 Bogart St, Bushwick, NY
92 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY
74 Guernsey St Greenpoint, NY
All the girls I talk to seem to love this place, but it’s selection for guys is not amazing. The prices are a little more expensive than what you would find at the average Goodwill, but the collection is curated, so the selection is typically, nice quality, very trendy and a bargain for the brand name. Beacon’s is good for blouses and dresses, and it has a great and inexpensive selection of overalls. Many vintage bags and clutches line the back wall, that might be the best finishing details for a revived, going out look.
The Cure Thrift Shop
111 East 12th Street
The Cure is infamously known for its half-off sale that never ends.The store’s mode of operation is to price things two times higher than it would normally sell it for and then mark it half off to fool you into thinking you’re getting a deal. That being said, the prices aren’t outrageous. They are, however, a little more than the average curated thrift store, but it does go to a good cause– all proceeds go toward research for type 1 Diabetes. It has a great selection that goes beyond just clothes and accessories. Again, its collection is better for womenswear than menswear, but I’ve still had some luck while looking for shoes and sweaters. They have knickknacks, furniture and cool kitchenware throughout the store that I’ve definitely thought about buying numerous times. Check out the accessories while you’re there as well, as you’re bound to find a fresh ring or bracelet.
No Relation (L-Train Vintage)
204 1st Ave New York, NY
No Relation is super easy to sift through as everything is sorted into whatever the trend is. They have a vintage T-shirt rack, a flannel rack, a windbreaker rack and so on. While some of the stuff can be out of style for the time being, like the massive selection of drug rugs in their downstairs, you can always find a good pair of jeans or a dope jacket. They also have a gigantic range of the vintage varsity trend going around right now. While the selection for women is smaller than other stores, No Relation’s menswear is excellent, and most of the stuff could be worn as unisex.
Urban Jungle (L-Train Vintage)
118 Knickerbocker St Brooklyn, NY
This place is similar to the No Relation L-Train but much much bigger. Inside the warehouse-sized store, they have giant racks organized by style. They have huge selections of work jackets and tons of vintage, faux furs and leather for a great price. They also have a huge wall of Cowboy boots which is a hot trend right now.
Search and Destroy
25 St Marks Pl A, New York, NY
People come here for the experience mostly. This St. Marks staple offers a taste of outlandish punk and grunge culture that evokes just the right amount of nostalgia and rebellion. From the porn magazines featuring obscure fetishes in the doorway to the dildos and sex dolls dressed in stockings and slashed denim decorating the store, the immediate shock is clearly Search and Destroy’s schtick. The store is full of exciting and unique pieces, but the price range makes it not worth it. My recommendation is to go straight to its $20 sale rack and look at nothing else. Although there are occasional pieces within a student’s price range, I wouldn’t go expecting anything other than a weird time.
130 Crosby St, New York, NY
2nd Av & 64th St, New York, NY
This place is one of my all-time favorite thrift stores in New York City. It has locations all over the city, so you’ll never have to travel long to find one. The best part is– all proceeds go to funding research for HIV/AIDS. Housing Works is also great because it’s one of the few thrift stores that old rich people know about, so it’s common to find labels such as Dior and Moschino– and it’s all for a fair price. Depending on which location you go to, the amount of luxury clothing may change, but you’ll always be in luck at the Upper East Side and SoHo locations.
Email Scott Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Featured Photo is from the Beacon’s Closet Instagram