Despite its reputation for being pricey, New York has a deceptive abundance of thrift stores dotted throughout its five boroughs, making it an ideal spot to secondhand shop.
Some of these places are the type where you need to (or should) dedicate at least a couple of hours to sift through the thousands of garments in search of sartorial gold. Others, aware of their space limitations, are a little bit pricier but more curated and easier to sort through—I like to think of them as thrifting lite.
Regardless of where you choose to go, you should really save your time and energy for finding gems rather than finding thrift stores. Luckily the city’s best are rounded up below. And before you get shopping a little trade secret: All of the best slip dresses are in fact found in thrift stores.
Finding an L Train Vintage store can be a little bit confusing. Technically it’s a chain of stores but certain locations go by different names—like the one in the East Village, which is called No Relation. But regardless, this is perhaps the most tried and true thrift store experience in New York City. It specializes in basics like shirts and plain dresses, priced at $7. (Things get incrementally for expensive depending on what exactly you’re looking for, though still definitely affordable.) In true thrift store fashion, you should expect to dedicate at least an hour to sifting through the heaps to find your buried treasure.
No Relation, 204 1st Ave., New York, New York, 10009; (212) 228-5201
L Train Vintage, 1377 Dekalb Ave., Brooklyn, New York,11221; (718) 443-6940
L Train Vintage, 629 Grand St., Brooklyn, New York,11211; (929) 337-8074
L Train Vintage, 654 Sackett St., Brooklyn, New York, 11217; (718) 858-4906
L Train Vintage, 106 Knickerbocker Ave., Brooklyn, New York, 11237; (718) 366-2200
New York City is filled with charitable thrift stores and Cure Thrift Shop is a great one in the East Village with proceeds that go to type 1 diabetes research and advocacy. The curatorial philosophy seems to be everything and anything which makes it an ideal place for people with a skill for plucking needles in haystacks.
Cure Thrift Shop, 111 E. 12th St., New York, New York, 10003; (212) 505-7467
AuH2O is a great store for people easing their way into thrifting or who get overwhelmed by the mayhem usually synonymous with secondhand stores. This spot is small and pretty curated. There are only ever about 50 pieces of clothing out at once and at super affordable price points.
AuH2O, 84 E. 7th St., New York, New York, 10003; (212) 466-0844
The City Opera Thrift Shop in Chelsea is as classy and sophisticated feeling as the name suggests. The store is packed with a vast selection of homewares and fashion with the proceeds from the store helping the New York City Opera stay up and running.
City Opera Thrift Shop, 222 E. 23rd St., New York, New York, 10010; (212) 684-5344
Housing Works is one of my favorite institutions in New York City. The nonprofit was started in 1990 to try and address the AIDS and homelessness epidemics in the city. Since then, Housing Works thrift stores, book stores, and cafés have come to dot the city. Items here are affordable and you can feel good about your purchase since it means keeping something out of a landfill and putting your money toward a good cause. There are over 10 locations in the city so regardless of where you are there’s likely one a stone’s throw away but the main two are located in SoHo and Chelsea.
Housing Works Thrift Shop, 143 W 17th St, New York, New York, 10011; (718) 838-5050
Housing Works Thrift Shop, 130 Crosby St, New York, New York, 10012; (646) 786-1200
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Beacon’s Closet has four locations sprawled across the city, which means it’s almost always a convenient pit stop. The store is great for the high-low shopper; you can find anything from high-quality (and high price tag) designer pieces to cheap, well-constructed vintage gems and newer secondhand pieces.
Beacon’s Closet, 10 W. 13th St., New York, New York, 10011; (917) 261-4863
Beacon’s Closet, 74 Guernsey St., Brooklyn, New York, 11222; (718) 486-0816
Beacon’s Closet, 23 Bogart St., Brooklyn, New York, 11237; (718) 417-5683
Beacon’s Closet, 92 5th Ave., Brooklyn, New York, 11217; (718) 230-1630
Rags-A-Go-Go never left the ’80s, which makes it one of the best thrift stores to peruse in our aesthetically nostalgic times. The store is packed with retro windbreakers, vintage denim, and old records, all at affordable prices.
Rags-A-Go-Go, 218 W. 14th St. Ste. A, New York, New York, (212) 254-6115
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