My mom tried to buy me a coat at TJ Maxx a few months ago – something of the down, puffy ilk. A three-quarter length puffer coat, while undeniably practical, tends not to flatter those of below-average height and above-average cup size. I declined her generous offer, explaining that I didn’t intend to spend the winter months moonlighting as a waddling marshmallow. I’ve been freezing my ass off ever since. read full spiel…
I’m not really a blouse person – I sweat too much and spill things on myself too often to don dry-clean-only shizzz. I wear blouses so rarely, I manage to forget their purpose entirely… until I have to go to temple or some charity event requiring business-esque attire.
Only then do I realize I have JACK SHIT to wear.
I was unaware that Loeffler Randall made anything beyond teeny weeny handbags costing upwards of $295 a pop. (Are said handbags adorable? Yes. Is it moronic to drop over two benjamins on something too small to accomodate your wallet? Also yes.)
Okayfine, describing the relaunch of Housing Works Buy the Bag as a wet dream is maybe a little bit gross. It’s also incredibly accurate.
This is warehouse-style thrifting, beotches. Much like sex or the prospect thereof, it involves varying degrees of shame and frustration. Whether or not you allow these feelings to jeopardize your ability to snag some material tail is a matter of mental fortitude.
That means think positive, for fuck’s sake.
At most thrift warehouses (see Goodwill Outlet Center, Queens), clothing gets lumped into general textiles and ends up buried among dirty towels, stained pillowcases and used jockstraps (yum).
Why should you give Buy the Bag a whirl, even if you’ve never before braved the bins? Because Housing Works PRE-SORTS their donated goods, removing the irrelevant ick before their bins hit the floor. This increases your odds of finding something amazeballs exponentially. Obvs.
read full spiel…
I trekked to Queens the other day in search of new and noteworthy neighborhood thrifts (whoa alliteration overload – my bad).
My first stop was
As I browsed the racks, I had a sneaking suspicion that something was missing from the thrifting equation. It wasn’t until the conclusion of my hunt that I realized what it was. DAMAGES! No missing buttons; no stains; no visible wear and tear; NADA!
I was impressed enough to compliment the owner, Aladeen, who’s basically the nicest dude ever.
One of a Kind has about five huge bins of $1.00 items outside its storefront on a given day. The dollar bins obvs would have been my first order of biznass, if they hadn’t been covered in plastic on account of the rain. Aladeen was kind enough to lug the bins inside for me so I could dig through them at my leisure. What a DOLL.
I asked Aladeen how he got into the thrifting business, and learned that he used to manage a Goodwill. I subsequently relayed the dismaying tale of the $39.99 make-up stained Calypso dress.
What was Goodwill’s rationale for putting damaged crap on the racks? “‘Let the shopper decide,’ that’s what the corporate retail experts at Goodwill used to tell us. I never thought it was fair.”
Thanks to Aladeen and One of a Kind Thrift, for proving that reasonably priced secondhand goodies aren’t yet extinct in NYC. Loves it!
About a month or so ago, an intriguing flyer made its way into my mailbox.
Thrift boutiques – thriftiques, if you will – have been popping up all over as of late. Kate Goldwater and I know this facet of the gently worn world inside out and bass ackwards; it’s why AuH2O is the number one shopping listing on Yelp for all of New York City.
The rules of a successful thriftique operation are as follows:
1. Have an Eye.
Over the past few months, Kate and I have basically trained ourselves to be brand-blind. This isn’t because we have anything against labels; it’s because we understand the extent to which they influence our judgment.
I recently unearthed a stunning, cream linen pencil skirt from a bin at one of our go-to stock spots. We squealed with delight before we even knew what it was: A vintage Yves Saint Laurent. Yes, it was a lucky score, but when quality’s your end-game, the gems eventually find you.
When assessing any item, we deal with cut (is it flattering? is the fit versatile? is it too big or too small for our shoppers?), fabric (is it jersey knit that’s going to pill after one wash? is it scratchy vintage polyester?), color (we hate pink), seasonal wearability (fuck, another amazing vintage sweater we don’t have space to store) and stylistic relevance (can we cut out the shoulder-pads?). The brand’s the last part of the equation, and rarely the deciding factor.
Having an eye also means getting outside of your own head, i.e. knowing who you’re buying for. Our East Village shoppers are basically a walking street style blog: Their creative wardrobe choices inspire a lot of what we stock, and they rarely lead us astray.
2. Check for Damages.
A thriftique is, first and foremost, a screening tool designed to alleviate the browsing drudgery associated with traditional thrift.
That’s a verbose way of saying NO DAMAGED SHIT ON YOUR RACKS. If you’re going to tack on a convenience charge for curated secondhand stock, checking for pit-stains, missing buttons, busted zippers, fabric tears, pen marks, excessive pilling, iron burns, etc. isn’t an option – it’s your fucking JOB.
Note: If thrift warehouses and vintage junk shops are your stock sources, here’s your golden rule: If it’s really effing amazing, there’s probably something wrong with it. Write that down.
Kate and I do two damage checks for every single item we choose, and we do it every single time we stock, and we STILL mess up occasionally. If we pull something out of the dryer, see a stain and realize we’ve been had, do we say meh, whatevs, no one else will notice, we’ll just put it out anyway? No, because we’re not lazy pieces of shit.
If we knowingly stock a damaged item, it’s a big fat eff you to our shoppers – no item is worth having our judgment and/or thrifting skillz called into question.
If we unknowingly stock a damaged item, and a shopper catches the flaw, it’s 75% off its tagged price if she still wants it; if she doesn’t, we pull it off the floor immediately.
For any item that’s not wearable in its current form, you’ve got two choices: Fix it, or get rid of it.
3. Don’t Forget What You’re Selling.
No, really. What do you sell?
A vintage shopkeeper might answer authentic 60s and 70s era garb. A Housing Works manager might answer designer items at a discount. A Goodwill Boutique employee might say brands for less.
All of these answers amount to a steaming pile of cow dung – a crock of bullshit that enables many thriftique owners to rationalize overcharging for previously worn goods.
Vintage, designer – I don’t give a rat’s ass. First and foremost, it’s USED, and it should be priced as such.
So. Did Goodwill’s Greenwich Village Boutique hit or miss the thriftique mark?
Oy. Effing. Vey. Photographic evidence to follow. Stay tuned.