My love of thrifting started at a second hand store on Cypress Avenue in Ridgewood. In elementary school, I would go there with my mom to shop for toys, household items, lumpy sweaters, and curtains. I liked the electronics, the porcelain dolls, and the sweet older man behind the counter. My mom claimed that shopping there meant we got a better deal on everything, so we went at least once a month to replace something that was broken beyond repair or to find gifts for holidays and birthdays. I quickly learned that used stuff, from shoes to furniture, was actually pretty great.
Over the years, second hand stores have sprung up all over NYC. It’s become easy and fashionable to thrift, and it makes retail therapy both cost effective and environmentally sound — less money out of my pocket, fewer items in a landfill. Here are some of my favorite second hand stores in the city.
Near the Bedford Avenue L stop, this shop is my go-to when I want something affordable but unique. It has a cool mix of big brands and vintage pieces, and the changing rooms are old phone booths which adds to the throwback vibe. A few summers ago I found a wrap dress and a pair of BCBG loafers here that I still wear. I’ve also come here to purchase gifts like silk scarves and cocktail dresses.
You may have heard of Housing Works, a nonprofit chain of cafes, bookstores, and thrift shops. It’s a great starting point for anyone new to thrifting. Shopping here feels good: I’m saving money, being eco-friendly, and contributing to an organization fighting AIDs and homelessness. I go to the warehouse in Long Island City and the SoHo store often and I’ve found great brands at steep discounts. I almost balked at buying a $20 plain t-shirt here once — but that shirt has lasted ages without losing its shape or texture.
L Train Vintage
Quality denim can be pricey so I love checking out L train Vintage in Brooklyn once in a while for a new pair of jeans. Want skinnies? Acid wash? Distressed? They’ve got them. I’ve found workout sneakers, windbreakers, hats, dresses, and boots here. I’m also a sucker for 90s sweaters, and this store sells them in all patterns, sizes, and colors. Many of the items I’ve purchased have cost around $10, which keeps me coming back (plus it’s close to the subway).
Cure Thrift Shop
Another store that gives back is Cure, which donates proceeds to diabetes research. I heard about it just in time for the holidays last year and scored gifts for an eccentric aunt and a few cousins. When I finally moved out of my parents’ place earlier this year I returned to buy some glasses and walked out with a hat. It’s a fun place to browse and discover some out there items — I’ve seen animal skulls, quirky artwork, even a wooden sled.
This place sells home goods, clothing, and random knickknacks. I bought a hand woven purse here for a friend’s birthday a few months ago and she’s gotten a lot of compliments on it (and since it was a unique find, she’s the only one in her circle who has something like it). Stores like this that have a bit of everything remind me of my childhood days spent thrifting with family. It’s nostalgic, fun, and best of all, it doesn’t hurt my bank account.
Cover photo by Becca McHaffie on Unsplash