You thought I was going to begin a story about New York City’s best thrift stores with a Macklemore lyric? Please.
I’m going to start with a Little Mermaid lyric: “Look at this trove, treasures untold/How many wonders can one cavern hold…I’ve got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty/I’ve got whozits and whatzits galore…But who cares? No big deal,/I want more.”
I don’t think there were any Plato’s Closets under the sea, but the mermaid’s words certainly resonate with thrifters. Once you’ve caught the secondhand bug, it becomes a full-fledged hobby. And with a metropolis as robust as New York City, you better believe the thrifting market is full of one-of-a-kind finds.
“There is something about New York,” says Kathleen Sorbara, owner of Chickee’s Vintage in Williamsburg. “People don’t have a lot of space, so there’s always going to be that supply-and-demand in thrift stores simply because people are always getting rid of things because they don’t have enough space in New York City.” (I never thought I’d be grateful for Manhattan’s tiny closets, that is, until the day I stumbled upon a vintage Fendi top. God bless.)
But where to start? There are a lot of shops purveying everything from secondhand handbags to Hypebeast sneakers. Janelle Best, the owner of Williamsburg’s Shop 86, admits it can feel impossible to thrift in New York City. Whether you’re a born-and-bred New Yorker or just visiting for a weekend getaway, you’ve got to be a strategic shopper.
So I dug deep, polling fashion editors and industry insiders to find out which of the city’s thrift stores and vintage shops are actually worth a subway ride. Ahead, find all you need to know about the best thrift stores in NYC.
(Editor’s Note: Each store has been sorted into the following categories. $ signifies a shop with most items under $100; $ signifies one with a wide range, mostly between $50-200; and $$ indicates a shop with few to no items under $100 and many upwards of $200+)