As a young girl, my mother taught me the thrill of a good deal as we spent many weekends hunting for designer duds, vintage jewels and antique furnishings at incredible prices. As our hobby became more trendy, pop-culture began embracing the idea of second-hand shopping. In Comedy Central’s hit series, Broad City, laid back and free-spirited Ilana lives by the four R’s: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rihanna.” While I might live by the first three, I can get down with Rihanna if we can stand under my vintage umbrella. As I take off on any of my bargain hunting journeys, I blast “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, building up adrenaline and bobbing my head to “I’m gonna pop some tags, only got twenty dollars in my pocket, I-I-I’m hunting, looking for a come-up, this is f*cking awesome.” Ready to pop some tags? Hit up the following vintage, consignment and thrift shops in NYC!
Roundabout Resale Couture
Roundabout is one of my favorite places to find pre-owned designer couture. I have scored brand new Louis Vuitton pumps and Alexander Wang bags (both with the tags still on them), as well as well-worn Chloe boots at discounts of up to 90%. With two locations on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and one in SoHo, the store is incredibly accessible, not to mention its two Connecticut shops in Greenwich and Westport. The store is so renowned that its pre-owned collection comes from America’s best closets, and through its direct relationships with boutiques, showrooms and designers, they are able to sell past season “new” items for up to 70% off. Fabulous finds ranging from unfamiliar brands to Chanel, Hermes and Gucci, Roundabout can further round out the diversity of your own closet. With a blowout sale each summer and winter, signing up for their mailing list is a decision you won’t later regret.
“When I was younger, shopping vintage gave me a sense of community — places to meet other weird kids and kindred spirits.” – Chloe Sevigny
Housing Works, a chain of not-for-profit thrift shops that is dedicated to ending the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS, can be found in almost every neighborhood in Manhattan. Each store varies in price and selection, but be prepared to find designer clothes and furnishings, costume jewelry, books, art, and even kitchenware as you rummage through a wide variety of both brand new and extremely unique vintage finds. I bought a love it or hate it (I, obviously, loved it) mid-century modern, three-piece sofa at Housing Works on the Upper West Side. The blue velvet and white floral piece had been covered in plastic for 50 years and entered my home looking brand new. At the shop in Chelsea, I bought a brand new $4,000 chandelier for $250. While the prices can run steep, I have found amazing costume jewelry for $15 and funky martini glasses for $2.50 a pop. My one Housing Works regret? Not purchasing a pair of black Gucci combat boots for $75. To this day, I don’t know what I was thinking!
“I’m so pumped about some sh*t from the thrift shop” – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Tucked away on Chelsea’s “Thrift Row” is Pippin Vintage Jewelry. Behind its intriguing storefront is an endless variety of both anonymous and designer vintage jewels, with prices ranging from around five dollars to more than five-thousand dollars. Hidden in antique wooden drawers are cufflinks, earrings and pins among other less expensive pieces. On stands and other displays find vintage Miriam Haskell necklaces and Stanley Hagler brooches. Behind the beautiful counter lies what I call the mothership, the place where my husband can be found every July (my birthday), without fail. Fine vintage jewelry like a 14k Purple Sapphire and Black Pearl Ring c1880, or a set of Pearl Chandelier Earrings c1950-70s, can be found behind the protective glass, among countless other inherently unique vintage pieces. When you’re done purchasing jewelry, swing around back where a house sitting in a hidden courtyard sells antique furniture and home goods. Not for sale: a King Charles Cavalier that most days will be found sleepily “protecting” the goods.
“Stuck in the ’60s and ’70s and can’t get out… Some of my favorite things are scarves, sunglasses and great cocktail rings. You find them all over the world at flea markets!”- Rachel Zoe
Do it all at Buffalo Exchange. Buy, sell and/or trade new and recycled fashion at one of its 49 stores scattered across 17 states. The Chelsea store is a decent size and offers endless racks of barely worn (if ever worn) clothes. Merchandise ranges from Forever 21, to 7 for All Mankind to Manolo Blahnik. You can find a lot at Buffalo Exchange, and while you won’t always leave with what you came for, you will most likely leave with something. My favorite part about this popular thrift shop is its devotion to give back. They have saved 14.5 million plastic bags from polluting the environment by offering customers a token instead, which can be donated to designated local charities. Furthermore, their “Coats for Cubs” program collects real furs to provide bedding and comfort to orphaned and injured wildlife. When buying clothes helps save the planet, I’m in!
“I love shopping- but I’m secretly addicted to thrifting… I’m all about the bargain. I love anything old which I can buy and add my own touch.” – Drew Barrymore
What Goes Around Comes Around
Hangry shopping won’t get you anywhere. That’s why I always indulge in a cup of coffee and exquisite macarons at SoHo’s Ladurée before crossing the street and entering What Goes Around Comes Around, a personal Disneyland for vintage lovers. Since opening its doors in 1993, the flagship store has been visited by both celebrities and tastemakers around the world, searching for authentic vintage accessories and apparel. WGACA has internationally acclaimed collections of luxury houses such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Hermès, as well as vintage denim, classic rock tees and one of a kind finds from some of the most coveted brands like Saint Laurent, Alaïa, Comme des Garçons and many more. While most shoppers drool over countless options and unparalleled quality, don’t expect to find outrageous sales on a regular basis. If you want the quality that comes with the harvests of What Goes Around Comes Around, you’re going to have to pay for it!
“I buy a lot of vintage because, well, it’s AMAZING! And truthfully you can get great stuff for not a lot of money. I have a passion for vintage clothing because of the quality and uniqueness of the pieces.” – Tracee Ellis Ross
CancerCare Thrift Shop
When searching for NYC’s best thrift and consignment stores, CancerCare Thrift Shop never seems to appear. I discovered this amazing shop after hitting up Roundabout (see above), as it is just a few short blocks away. As an asthmatic thrift shopper, I was initially hesitant to enter this store as it looked a bit dusty and disheveled from the outside. However, after seeing a beautiful pair of designer shoes in the window, I was willing to take my chances. And boy am I glad I did! Over the years CancerCare Thrift Shop has provided me with designer duds, multiple pairs of Manolo’s for under $60 (yes, you read that right), and completely unique finds like my one-of-a-kind, handcrafted, Indian silk jacket. The best part? All proceeds benefit CancerCare’s free, professional services for people with cancer and their loved ones.
“I love a good charity shop, especially when I’m travelling… I buy boots, socks, trousers, jumpers, sweaters, hats and scarves — usually for £30 … On the way back to the airport, I have it all in a big bag and drop it off at another charity shop.” – Helen Mirren
Need more tips? Let me know!