I trekked to Queens the other day in search of new and noteworthy neighborhood thrifts (whoa alliteration overload – my bad).
My first stop was Second Best Thrift Shop in Astoria. On the organizational front, it was basically like Green Village Junk Shop, except smaller and with way less clothes. I mean, I guess it could be decent for furniture and/or glassware or whatevs, but if cheap thriftastic clothes are your thang, skip this sucker. Also: demerits for erroneous adjective choice in name. Pfft.
Sunnyside Thrift Shop was my next stop. Used, cheesy dresses at $15 or more? Beotch please. A tip for the idiots running this joint: You want to tag secondhand items that high and get away with it, you better have some semblance of taste. Underwhelming; overpriced; a big fat fail overall. Boo.
One of a Kind Thrift Shop was my last stop, and the only Queens’ indie thrift store that actually delivered what it promised. Tops from $3.00 – $7.00; dresses from $5.00 – $12.00; racks ripe with gently worn gems for the taking. See brandtastic finds below.
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!
So, flea markets kind of scare me. Mostly because they’re notoriously free of price tags.
I’m a chatty person by nature – the only time I ever really shut up is when I’m shopping. I don’t do banter, I don’t do bargaining; I dig, find, pay and move on. I’m in the zone. And asking myself Do I want this badly enough to hemorrhage my precious time and energy haggling over it’s price? is disruptive to said zone, so me no likey.
Once upon a time, flea markets might have been the exception to the everything-costs-more-in-NYC rule: Every time I hit a local flea, I’m forced to acknowledge this is no longer the case. Brooklyn Flea might be cool, but browsing a mishmash of vintage and handmade items in the $50 – $150 range isn’t my idea of a Saturday well spent. I’m equally non-plussed by the numbers at Hell’s Kitchen Flea and Chelsea’s Antiques Garage: Asking after prices tends to make me bitter, and I’m bitter enough as it is.
My general disdain for NYC fleas was called into question a few weeks ago, by a duo of lovely shoppers at my store. We were in the midst of trading tips on our fave thrifting spots when they started gushing about the market on 11th and A.
Shopper 1: It’s right around here, and they’ve got the sickest vintage dresses!
CJ: Okayfine, but what are they, like $25 a pop?
Shopper 2: Try $7.00. Ten bucks, tops.
CJ: No way.
Shopper 1: Yes way.
So I took their advice, and hit the 11th Street Flea Market (The Mary Help of Christians Church Flea Market, officially) on my next Sunday off.
My shoppers are the shiznat.There are two stellar vintage apparel booths at this particular flea: One’s in the back left corner of the lot, the other hugs most of the far right side. The good news? Every item at both booths has a visible price attached. The better news? Said price ranges from $3.00 to $10.00. Effing flea-tastic.
After browsing the larger booths and making off with some killer dresses, I was elated to the point of venturing into untagged territory.
At one of the interior booths, I spotted a pair of oversized orange aviators. Ridiculous, in the best sense of the term. I tried them on. I knew I had to have them. I braced myself internally, feigned nonchalance externally, and asked the seller for a price.
Well, they’re a little worn… and they’re so FUN on you… I don’t know… eight bucks?Doneskies.
I’m not really sure how to explain the shit going down at Goodwill’s Greenwich Village Boutique. I’m also not really sure why no one else in the NYC shopping blogosphere seems to have a problem with it.
Daily Candy named Goodwill GVB one of five Boutique Openings to Get Excited About. Racked‘s review seemed too wooed by the good deed factor of Goodwill to question the obvious.
For women, the store carries frilly and floral skirts, shorts in a variety of colors and lengths, and dresses for every occasion. Tank tops and bright, light weight tops are under $15 each, and coats and jackets range from $9.99 for a Mossimo rain jacket to $69.99 for an Ann Taylor Loft pea coat.
Maybe a Mossimo rain jacket costs more than $9.99 at Target. Maybe I don’t give a shit. Charging more than five bucks for an already-budget item of piss-poor quality is an insult to the art of thrift. Where the Ann Taylor Loft pea coat’s concerned, I mean, JESUS. A seventy dollar price tag at Goodwill? For an effing generic ATL pea coat? In MAY?!
Curated, my ASS.
Where charity thrift’s concerned, hell hath frozen over: Bundle up beotches, and brace yourselves for the cold hard reality of what it now costs to shop for a cause.
Mmkay, so these photos suck dong, but that’s because the security guard kept eyeballing me whilst I snapped (also, a security guard… what’s worth stealing, the fake Louis Vuitton bag in the window? Pfft.). Apologies, and onto the ludicrousness pictured.
Twenty8Twelve tops retail for hundreds of dollars. Ditto for Theory. It follows that paying $69.99 for one isn’t all that unreasonable… at Loehmann’s, or at a sample sale, or maybe even at a high-end consignment shop. I wouldn’t do it, but I understand it.
Paying that amount at Goodwill GVB is a different story – one in which I’m still digging through significant amounts of donated muck.
You heard me. DONATED. Goodwill wants $69.99 for each of these garments, but what’d they pay out of pocket? Zero. That’s a mark-up even Barneys can’t top.
I don’t have a problem with trading on charity – nationwide, Goodwill puts millions of people to work, and uses 84% of its profits to fund its numerous charitable initiatives. What I have a problem with is its complete disregard for the monetary expectations of those who keep it in business: We, the thrifters.
Goodwill GVB might be a smidge easier to shop than its larger Manhattan counterparts, but copious amounts of Target crap and Old Navy shizzz doth not a *curated* *vintage* *boutique* experience make.When I shop Goodwill, I expect to spend a bit more time and energy browsing than I would shopping retail. In return for my efforts, I expect to snag something amazing for a fraction of its retail cost – meaning five, ten, twelve bucks max. That uber cheap price is my reward for going gently worn, and for giving to charity via my secondhand purchase.
At Goodwill GVB, what do my efforts net me? Brand-name rip-offs, and a fucking forty dollar make-up stain.
Before I reveal the specifics of my epic jumpsuit find, I’d like to revisit one of thrift’s greatest truths:
The last thing you find is usually the best.
Here’s how this usually plays out: You’ve been thrifting for however long it takes to fully exhaust your shopping stamina. You’re hungry; you’re grouchy; you’re running on fumes; you’re ready to get the hell outta dodge. You’ve got two choices at this point: Call it a day, or hang tough for ten more minutes.
What happens in those last ten minutes? You find things like this:
This vintage khaki jumpsuit is, hands down, one of my favorite scores in the history of my secondhand shopping career.
It fits perfectly; its neutral tone tempers its ridiculousness; it looks sick tucked into boots; it’s a kickass outfit in one fell swoop. I found it at Green Village Junk Shop after an hour and a half of hunting.
Tacking ten minutes of overtime onto ninety minutes of strenuous sifting isn’t a sane decision by any stretch of the imagination, but crazy clearly pays off.
So. Effing. Worth It. Eek!
Sephardic Bikkur Holim Thrift Shop (say it five times fast – GO!) has some designer donation connections, but the place is struggling on the organizational front. Blazers and blouses and tops mingle on nine different racks; jeans, kiddie clothes, fabric and bedding are randomly strewn across tables; no one seems to know that “sweatshirt” isn’t a synonym for “sweater.” If some logic exists in the layout, it was lost on me. Most things aren’t tagged, which is uber irritating. There’s a few random signs scattered about – Women’s Dresses, $10 – $25, etc. – but the actual cost of each item seems entirely arbitrary: The number they charge is the number you’re expected to pay. Yes, it’s thrift, but can I get a little fucking effort please? Even Goodwill organizes by color and type. GET IT TOGETHER.
There are gems to be had at the SBH 50% Off Sale, but the many exceptions to the deal are suspect:
50% Off except for these designer racks; 50% Off except for shoes; Oh, it’s a Chanel windbreaker, so it’s not part of the sale…BITE ME.
Travel time + heinous lack of organization + $30.00 dated “designer” suits + overwhelming smell of cat piss = big fat fail on the enjoyability scale. Don’t let the awesomeness of my scores fool you – finding this shit took way longer than it should have. Also, I’m a professional. Go at your own risk.