I always viewed thrifting as a hassle until I moved to New York for a summer and my entire shopping game changed. I suddenly dropped fast fashion chains and solely stuck to vintage stores—the cheaper price point and ethical approach made it seem like the only decent way to shop. Apart from that, vintage stores in the city happen to carry the most stylish pieces that can’t be found anywhere else. However, because New York and Brooklyn are known for their thrifting scene, there are a ton of shops to sift through, making shopping for newbies more difficult than it’s worth. To make thrifting in NYC an enjoyable (and successful) task, I’ve showcased my and other Community Member’s favorite vintage stores in NYC and Brooklyn that we constantly go back to because they’re just that good. Read on to see the full list, and soon, you’ll become that person who responds “it’s vintage” when someone asks where you got that to-die-for top.
If You’re Looking for Editorial Finds That Won’t Break the Bank
What: The Break
Where: 82 Dobbin Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn
Not only is The Break my favorite vintage store, well, ever, it’s also a spot that fashion and beauty editors flock to when in search of unique pieces that are far more affordable than those new indie labels that the industry loves. Its heavily curated selection ensures that every piece you sift through will catch your eye. And better yet, its friendly staff is not only extremely helpful but also full of creatives that expand The Break from just a thrift store to a creative platform that hosts exciting initiatives like events open to the public.
If You’re Looking for Eccentric Furniture and Decor
What: Dobbin St. Co-op
Where: 37 Norman Ave in Greenpoint, Brooklyn; 1033 Flushing Ave in Bushwick, Brooklyn; and 310 Graham Ave in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Honestly, stores that sell new furniture (think Ikea, Target, or even West Elm) just aren’t doing it for me—I seem to always gravitate towards vintage decor when looking for apartment inspo. Dobbin St. Co-op, which has three locations across Brooklyn, does the trick with their antique furniture, prints, and other apartment necessities. The best part? Their prices are similar to Ikea’s but their pieces are guaranteed to last longer and have cooler styles (aka the reason I always shop vintage).
If You’re Looking for Traditional Vintage Clothing Your Mom (or Grandma) Would Have Owned
What: Antoinette Vintage
Where: 119 Grand Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
One of my favorite aspects of shopping vintage is finding the tiny shops that hold one-of-a-kind pieces that haven’t been imitated since at least the late ’80s. When I walked into Antoinette Vintage for the first time, I knew this would be the place to be exactly what I described above. Although it is one of the smaller thrift shops on the list, there’s bound to be a ’50s floral frock or a pair of ’90s mules in its limited collection. Plus, the friendly owner knows the entire store like the back of her hand, making any purchase feel more special than any fast-fashion buy.
If You’re Looking for a Wide Collection of Quirky Pieces That Also Give Back
What: Housing Works
Where: Locations all across Manhattan and Brooklyn
While Housing Works continues to be on my list of favorites for their vast collection of designer and secondhand clothes, the other aspects of the organization are what entice me. Not only does every purchase go towards fighting homelessness and the AIDS/HIV crisis, they also have other platforms beyond thrift stores, like their bookstore cafe, that also donates to the cause.
If You’re Looking for the Closest Thing to Your Local Goodwill
What: Urban Jungle
Where: 118 Knickerbocker Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn
Many find the beauty in thrifting to be the cheap prices and huge collection, especially if you’re from the suburbs and Goodwill is all you know. While NYC thrifting tends to be on the pricier side, Urban Jungle, owned by the infamous L Train Vintage, has the same affordable prices as Goodwill but tends to carry a better selection than typical suburbia. You can snatch a pair of linen shorts for $3 or a vintage maxi dress for $5, but be prepared to search through a lot of clothing before finding pieces worth keeping.
If You’re Looking for Vintage Designer Clothing
What: About Glamour
Where: 310 Grand Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Have you ever dreamed of vintage Comme de Garçons or Vivienne Westwood? I think we all have, but it seems almost impossible to find—that is unless you head over to About Glamour in Williamsburg. Although these pieces are on the pricier side of vintage, saving up and investing in designer pieces that go for less than $200 is a dream that can become a reality through this shop.
If You’re Looking for the Classic NYC Thrifting Experience
What: Beacon’s Closet
Where: 74 Guernsey Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn; 92 5th Ave in Park Slope, Brooklyn; 10 W 13th Street in Union Square, Manhattan; and 23 Bogart Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn
If you live in NYC and haven’t been to Beacon’s Closet, can you really call yourself a real New Yorker? I remember the first thrift shop I visited in the city was the Beacon’s Closet in Manhattan, and it made me realize that shopping vintage could be easier than I once assumed. It carries practically everything you could ever need for fairly low prices, and each section is categorized by color and type of item, making the search through the wide array of clothing easier than most large thrift stores.
If You’re Looking for Cool-Girl Pieces From a Small, Curated Shop
What: Malin Landaeus
Where: 157 N 6th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Malin Landaeus is your go-to destination if you tend to gravitate towards smaller shops with hand-picked selections because let’s face it—digging through pounds and pounds of secondhand clothing at more largescale thrift stores is a lot of effort. But even better, this highly curated shop only carries those it-girl pieces that can typically only be found at vintage stores like these or on the Depop accounts that sell out in minutes.
If You’re Looking for a Wide Variety in Nostalgic ’90s Clothing
What: No Relation Vintage
Where: 204 1st Ave in East Village, Manhattan
Are you a true Manhattanite and would rather not venture into Brooklyn to find the best (and most affordable) vintage stores? No Relation Vintage, also owned by L Train Vintage, is your solution. The shop is huge, has two levels, and carries anything you could ever want if you wish to dress like any of the characters from Friends—think vintage Levi’s, oversized sweaters, and printed blouses that are equal parts tacky and on-trend. Their selections are also extremely inexpensive, especially for a Manhattan thrift store, making it my favorite shop I don’t have to get on the L train for.
If You’re Looking for Cool Basics That You Can Also Buy Through Instagram
What: Awoke Vintage
Where: 132 North 5th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 688 Manhattan Ave in Greenpoint, Brooklyn; and on Instagram (@awokevintagebrooklyn)
While many vintage stores do have a fairly strong presence on Instagram, I actually discovered Awoke Vintage through Instagram shopping rather than seeing it IRL first. They constantly update their feed to sell the pieces they also carry at their two stores in Brooklyn, and all you have to do is DM them to purchase. If you’re not based in NYC, this makes it possible to thrift from a New York collection and have it shipped wherever you live. And if you are in NYC, you can find what you want through their IG, purchase it before you even enter the shop, and pick it up hours later. Of course, if you want a more traditional thrifting experience, their two charming stores are open all week for you to browse.
Where are your favorite places to thrift in NYC and beyond? Let us know in the comments below!
Opening image by Geordon Wollner.