At AuH2O Thriftique, we’re pretty old school about how we stock our store. We go out and unearth the gently worn gems ourselves for two reasons:
1. We’re utterly addicted to the thrill of the hunt.
2. We’re DIRT CHEAP.
We spend hours on end in icky, icky places to deliver the goods at the lowest possible cost. The only thing we sell that doesn’t involve a shit ton of patience, grit and endurance on our part? Jewelry. We order in bulk from our vintage suppliers, a box of baubles arrives and wee! Kate Goldwater and I are both Jewish, so opening those boxes is basically the closest thing to Christmas morning we’ve ever experienced.
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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.
Clothes-by-the-pound options in this city are slim at best. While the Goodwill Outlet Center has afforded me my fair share of cheap thrills in the past, the act of tackling it in earnest is exhaustifying. Also occasionally nauseating. The responsibility of stocking a vintage/thrift boutique means I’ve recently found myself in dire need of GOC alternatives.
You’re probs thinking “Hang the eff on. You mean you stock stuff you buy by the pound, and sell it individually for a higher price?” You bet your ass I do, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. When you’re stocking a vintage/thrift boutique, and you want to keep your price points reasonable – cheap, even – you’ve gotta go off the grid to find the goods. Our stock costs are lower than most because a shit ton of time and energy goes into finding what we eventually sell. This enables us to tack on a small convenience charge for our efforts in lieu of the offensive mark-ups often seen at other vintage/thrift stores – a fair trade off, methinks.
Revealing where I get some of my stock could, perhaps, result in a loss of business, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take. My feeling is, if you’ve got the cojones to go where I go and shop how I shop, I’m not about to deprive you of the opportunity to do so; inclusion begets positive shopping karma. On that note, let’s talk about Green Village Junk Shop.
There’s two apparel options at Green Village: Priced per piece and priced per pound ($2.00 per lb). The per-pound option has one small catch: You gotta buy ten pounds or more to get the deal. Ten pounds of clothing might sound like a lot, but believe you me, it adds up fast. The back bins at Green Village aren’t just a more manageable, pared-down version of those at Goodwill Outlet Center. They’re a vintage fiend’s dream: Retro fabulosity lurks beneath the donated muck. Dig hard, hunt enthusiastically, and here’s a preview of what you might find:
The thriftastic awesomeness above obvs didn’t magically reveal itself to me at the get-go; two to three hours of aerobic foraging is the standard for a haul of this caliber.
My shopping stamina mirrors that of a European tourist at Century 21 these days: I had enough energy at the end of my apparel browse to dig for accessories, which proved equally enthralling.
There was, of course, the issue of travel; first to the laundromat to sanitize, then home to my apartment. Hauling thirty pounds of stock around on foot isn’t fun by a long shot, but trying everything on when it’s still warm from the dryer sure as hell is. A warm and fuzzy end to a job well done.
Green Village, I love you. Viva la thrift.
Ohhh, Sex and the City. Ninety-four episodes, two movies, and a shitstorm of merch guaranteed to transform the average fan into her sexy single archetype of choice.
Like Carrie’s beloved New York, Sex and the City never sleeps. Even now, months after the sequel’s release, the franchise is still coming up with new, groundbreaking ways to milk its audience for a few more buckaroos.
Upon receiving news of SOTC’s exciting foray into lingerie, I couldn’t help but wonder…
Is there any purchase more asinine than a set of $142.00 bra straps?
Just got wind of the latest Etsy-inspired endeavor, a.k.a. Indieshop. Think HSN, sans the overabundance of cubic zirconia. I haven’t seen it live yet, but I AM intrigued by the ability to text an order in real time. Muy convenient.
Indieshop’s online too, if you’d rather browse the products on your own time, and the selection’s rather tempting IMHO.
Here’s a few tidbits/end-of-day procrastination fodder.