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 The Rest
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.
About a month or so ago, an intriguing flyer made its way into my mailbox. Goodwill was going upmarket, reserving the best of its donation pool for its latest initiative:
The Goodwill Greenwich Village Boutique. 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.
This past Monday, i.e. Valentine’s Day, the window display at my thriftique was a shitshow of pink. I figured I’d temper the girly vibe/commiserate with uncoupled shoppers by donning an all-black ensemble. It wasn’t until a customer commented on my outfit that I realized the true source of its inspiration.
- You know that movie The Craft?
- Know it? I was OBSESSED with it for most of middle school!
- Me too, and your outfit kinda has that early-nineties witch vibe going on. Love the nod to goth!
If ever you find yourself chanting Earth-Air-Fire-Water in your head and feel the need to express your inner witch, a nod to goth can be achieved via the following:
A little black dress. Mine’s from H&M: I resisted scissoring it into a minidress for four solid years, leaving it knee-length for classy occasions, synagogue and/or funerals, but I’m happy I finally gave in. The lining started shredding as soon as I’d cut it, so I want with the raw thang and hemmed it with a loop stitch to keep the hem in tact.
Note: Loop stitch is not a technical term – it’s what happens when you poke a needle and thread through the inside of the garment close to the interior edge, then loop it around the exterior edge in lieu of poking it through the outside of the garment. If that makes any sense.
A black blazer (a vintage Goodwill Outlet Center find, in this case). In its original form, the four-button blazer had two visible copper buttons and two hidden heinous plastic buttons. It looked fine buttoned up; unbuttoned, it was a decidedly not-hot mess.
A blazer that cannot be worn both open and closed is a blazer undeserving of a place in my wardrobe – clearly, the situation had to be remedied. Luckily, the blazer had two matching copper buttons on its sleeves. I snipped them off, and trimmed the fabric shielding the heinous plastic buttons. Then I snipped those buttons from the garment, and sewed the copper ones onto the vacant button space. If it looks unfinished, GOOD. It’s SUPPOSED to. We have a raw, badass witchy theme going on here!
The shoes are a no-brainer, as black, lace-up, combat-inspired boots epitomize the nod-to-goth look. These are Miz Moos, and Mommy got them for me at Marshalls because she is awesome.
Chokers are a staple nineties accessory, so I threw a vintage Jewish star charm onto a long silver chain and wrapped it around my neck three times. I also added a killer vintage wrist cuff, and topped the whole thang off with ripped black tights.
“We are the weirdos, mister.” Bah!
We dress up for work at AuH2O, and by “dress up,” I mean we don clothes in a way that reinforces one of life’s greatest truths: Secondhand and style aren’t mutually exclusive terms. I work the thriftique 2-3 days a week: It takes me an average of 30 minutes to figure out what to wear each time. On certain mornings, the clock runs out before I’ve completed the exercise.
Do I open late? Fuck no – I’m a professional. I leave my apartment half-dressed and on time, and change my outfit upon arriving at the store. It’s usually as simple as selecting a top or dress and a few accessories from my personal stock, but a few mornings ago, simplicity and speed went out the window. In lieu of picking something wearable in its current form, I chose an ankle-length tie-waist dress.
I do not wear ankle-length dresses. Ever. But the print was sooo cute, and the jersey knit had the coziness of a broken-in t-shirt. I loved this dress and goddammit, I was going to figure out a way to wear it. So I did what I always do when I fall for something too long for my liking: I busted out my scissors, and hacked a few inches off the hem.
Allow me to paint you a picture of the scenario: I’m in the dressing room with the scissors. No customers are in the store yet, but I’m open for business and, heretofore, on a serious time crunch. I try the dress on and ballpark the hem. I take it off. I hack it. I put it back on and… BALLS. Way. Too. Short. This wasn’t a mini-dress, and it didn’t look like a tunic either. It looked like the mistake it was – a dress hemmed too short for wearability. SHIT.
Luckily, I had a gauzy, layered, ruffle and lace trimmed H&M miniskirt on hand, so I layered it under the mistake of a mini dress. It masqueraded as a slip effectively enough, but it was too thick to lie flat under the thin fabric – from the waist down, I was a big bunchy mess. I threw a blazer on over the combo to hide the bunch and survived the day.
I couldn’t leave the issue of the too-short dress unresolved – this thang was way too cute not to salvage. The ruffled trim of the H&M miniskirt was a perfect pairing. All I had to do was cut the hem from the garment, sew it together to preserve the layered material, then sew that piece of material onto the bottom of the dress hem.
This took nine hours.
Thankfully, I had Freaks & Geeks for company.
Pretty cute, yes? Oh, and both the dress and the skirt-turned-hem got snagged at Goodwill Outlet Center.
In other news, it’s Fashion Week. I could do a long-winded rant on the ridiculousness of the scene, but these days, it’s just not a worthy use of my time. Better to keep you entertained with subjects marginally relevant to your lives, methinks.
How’s this for a compromise: It’s Fashion Week, and I don’t give a flying fuck.