Secondhand shopping isn’t considered thrifting if it costs an arm and a leg. And unlike the cities’ privately owned boutiques, which curate retro-loot for a premium price, thrift stores sell used clothes that were donated by individuals—most of the profits go directly to charity—for a buck and up. As much as we love sifting through throwback items at New York’s best flea markets and vintage clothes shops in the city, the thrill of the hunt keeps these top-notch thrift stores in business. And if you need a place to donate your gently used goods, much like consignment shops in town, you can trade your duds for cash.
Best thrift stores in New York
Since 1997, this upscale secondhand store has been a socially-minded bargain hunter’s haven: Proceeds from the gently used designer samples and vintage treasures benefit the Lower East Side Service Center, a non-profit that assists individuals suffering from chemical dependencies, HIV/AIDS and mental illness. Angel Street receives new merch several times a day through donations from individuals and corporations, meaning you’ll stumble upon one-offs like a pair of never-before-worn J. Crew gingham capri pants ($15) as well as an entire rack of Anna Sui logo tees ($6 each) direct from the supplier. If you’re redecorating your apartment, make this your first stop: The furniture selection is especially strong, and can turn up a full-size foosball table ($300), ergonomic office chairs ($40), a sturdy wood table ($80) or a Rosenthal crystal centerpiece bowl ($100).
After graduating from NYU in 2006, Milwaukee native Kate Goldwater opened this funky shop, featuring a curated selection of vintage and thrift clothing ($5–$25) and accessories ($3–$30) that are easy on the eyes and the wallet. This past October, she expanded her operation to a slightly larger Williamsburg storefront that, unlike the Manhattan location, also carries menswear ($5–$30). Everything in both shops is $30 or less and her finds are perfectly on-trend, which means you’ll find plenty of ’80s and ’90s pieces right now.
This buy/sell/trade store has become a household name in the city since establishing outposts in Park Slope and Greenwich Village and Greenpoint. Sifting through the many racks of gently used clothing for true finds can require a heck of a lot of patience, but the effort is well worth it for those on a budget. On a recent visit, we spotted a pair of Manolo Blahnik peep-toe pumps ($22) and a Patrizia Pepe china silk tunic ($50); dudes’ duds included a Club Monaco denim jacket ($17) and Sperry Top-Siders ($19). Looking to sell your own cast-offs? Clean, gently-used duds are inspected on the spot for their resale value (which is determined by seasons or what the store needs stocked). You’ll receive either a percentage of the resale value in cash (35 percent) or store credit (55 percent) to put toward your next purchase.
Thrift hounds, get ready to rifle: This consignment chain, which buys, sells and trades its inventory directly with customers carries a mix of designer-label and vintage clothing, shoes, and accessories, priced much lower than retail cost. Discover pieces like a pair of Tory Burch midthigh leather-and-tweed boots ($125), a Marc Jacobs mustard-yellow purse with gold studs ($75), and a Burberry men’s wool coat with resin toggle closures ($135).
The first floor of this respected thrift shop is devoted to jewelry cases, vintage furniture, and such curios as an old cash register and used sewing machine (both in working order). Head to the clean basement room to scour the racks for coats, skirts and jeans, priced to move at $35, or plop down on a cushioned bench to try on the shoes, organized on red bookshelves. The well-edited stock is in impeccable condition and sourced solely by donation—Cure donates all its proceeds to the Diabetes Research Institute. Check back twice a year for the shop’s whatever-you-can-fit-in-this-bag-that-costs-just-$15 sales.
Kings County thrifters, rejoice: This Brooklyn clothing exchange is filled to the brim with slightly worn sartorial treasures. Northern California’s Crossroads—already a West Coast mainstay—packed its first NYC shop with affordable clothing ($5–$300), shoes ($15–$150) and accessories ($15–$350), not to mention some serious designer-label scores. Merchandise turns over fast, but scour the no-frills space and you’ll find some good deals such as ladies’ suede chunky platform Jeffrey Campbell boots ($100) and men’s YSL leather sneakers ($55). In the clothing department, you might stumble upon a guy’s sleek zippered G-Star jacket ($50) or a Marc by Marc Jacobs smock dress with leather detailing ($125). You can also unload your own gently worn items for 35% of the resale value in cash or 50% in store credit.
This thrift shop chain offers on-trend, funky finds and features vintage, new apparel, shoes, accessories and home goods, and it's organized with spaced-out, clearly labeled racks. The women’s section is filled with prom dresses, blazers, designer bags and tops. The housewares selection has a kitschy assortment including blue cat-shaped salt-and-pepper shakers ($3 each) and standard Keurig coffeemakers ($75). Roll through the streets of New York on your new Razor scooter ($30) or lie in bed writing your innermost thoughts in a Twilight journal featuring photos of the characters on the cover (four for $10). Before you head out the door, grab the Backstreet Boys’ "We’ve Got It Going On" CD single ($4), a Lucky Brand iPad case ($25) or the Office DVD board game ($8).
It's cool to donate your old duds and furniture to Housing Works, so the shelter-oriented charity's thrift stores are among the city's best. The prices aren't the lowest, but the stock is quality. If you're lucky, you can score designer pieces (in clothes and furnishings) you'd never be able to afford new. You just have to do a little rummaging. But as always, 100 percent of the proceeds help those affected by HIV/AIDS.
This pair of vintage shops in Brooklyn hawks affordable furniture, dishes, books, art, clothing and accessories—if you have the time to look. Sift through more than 5,000 square feet of merch to uncover treasures. Highlights include a slate of cheap vinyl records and a mezzanine full of artwork, in case you want to vamp up your walls.
Dig and ye shall find: The booty at this crazy-packed thrift shop includes women’s jeans, tops, skirts, shoes and dresses, plus a half floor’s worth of menswear. On our last visit, we sniffed out a pair of Chanel flats ($135) and a sequined dress by Alice + Olivia ($125). Don’t miss the neatly arranged costume jewelry at the front counter, or handsome selection of men’s vintage satin bow ties ($15).
There’s a rotating mix of astoundingly well-preserved designer and nonvintage clothing here, as well as one-of-a-kind housewares, shoes and accessories. We’ve found vintage Yves Saint Laurent blouses for $12, striped skinny ties for $6 and a pair of classic Salvatore Ferragamo pumps with bows on them for $10. Pretty much everything is a find, but you still get that thrill-of-the-hunt feeling.
Guilt-free shopping surfaces with this nonprofit thrift shop’s second store (the original is in Gramercy). Both donate all proceeds to the United Jewish Council of the East Side (ujces.org), which works to preserve the Lower East Side community. Sift through men’s and women’s clothing ($30–$600) hanging from reclaimed pipe racks, and browse accessories ($15–$400) displayed in an original Tiffany jewelry case. We spotted accessories such as Versace ($60) and Pucci ($80) neckties, Fendi leather handbags ($95) and Givenchy platforms ($100). The threads pack the same designer punch, with 1990s Betsey Johnson grunge dresses ($120) and a ’70s Yves Saint Laurent patterned blouse ($175). An Etro military jacket ($165) and vintage Nick Cave concert tee ($65) are highlights for guys.