Oct 25, 2011

Second-hand store shopping in New York City

There are a lot of reasons to love New York City, but thrift-store shopping is not one of them. My guess is store rents are too damn high for true second-hand stores to stay in business (though there are a few Salvation Armies and, of course, high-end vintage stores — but not anywhere near my neighbourhood).

That's not to say you won't find great items. But you will pay through the nose here because even employees of Unique Thrift Store in the Bronx know the value of a Stella McCartney blazer (I saw one there, on display up high behind the counter. The price tag was $299.99. Which seems fair considering eBay's "Buy it now" price on similar blazers is around $250. But still: $299 for anything at a second-hand store is a little outrageous). We went there to find a dress shirt and tie for Lucy for a video we were making. We found a little shirt, vest and tie set for $7, which seems overpriced to me. You can probably buy the same set for $9 down the street. I miss Value Village.

Other shocking finds on our trip that day: a vintage Ralph Lauren one-piece ski suit for $69.99 (I believe a similar piece was on display at the Fashion Institute of Technology's "Sporting Life" exhibit. I'm not surprised by the price tag — but by the fact that an employee of Unique Thrift Store would put this much value in a old polyester onesie).

And the Fresh Prince of Bel Air's favourite dress shirt, for $24.99 (!!):
Seriously, we saw Old Navy shirts that probably cost more than they did originally. But this place was packed. People were buying. Maybe how much I value other people's castoffs is directly correlated to the size of my bank account, but I just can't stomach the prices of second-hand clothing in NYC. I used to love shopping second-hand, garage sales, flea markets and the like. But here, everything is priced for the expert or collector. There's no thrill in finding an overpriced vintage Ralph Lauren ski suit. The thrill comes from saying to yourself, "Don't they know what it's worth?" as you pay $6.99 for a museum artifact-worthy item.

I'd love to be proven wrong though. Know of any great second-hand stores in NYC? Tell me!

1 comment:

  1. Ugh, I wish I could give you a good recommendation, but I agree that second-hand stores suck in NYC. I've been in Beacon's Closet in Williamsburg before and seen items that I had looked at on Etsy, but of course the prices were marked up higher than they had been online. I'm super jealous of the bloggers who have such good luck at thrift stores.



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