With the holidays – ranging from Thanksgiving to Christmas – looming ominously in the not too far off distance, the race is on to make sure your kids look at least presentable for the inevitable celebrations to come. Though looking absolutely fabulous would be nice, too. In this tight economic climate, however, it seems a shame to overspend on an outfit, no matter how adorable, that your child will inevitably outgrow (or spill juice on) prior to the next big occasion coming around. Especially not when you can take advantage of others who’ve already made the same mistake.
This is where Thrift Shops come in. New York City is an absolute gold mine for the thrifty parent eager to make the whole family look good without breaking the bank. If you’re willing to put in the legwork and hunting time, NYC overflows with gorgeous, designer, expensive clothes for all ages (though, when it comes to adults, the sizes definitely run towards slender) that were often worn only once (if at all) before finding their way into a network of second-hand stores sequestered within the five boroughs.
Some of our favorites include:
39 ½ Washington Sq. Street
A consignment store that was specifically created to feel like a high-end boutique, Clementine’s offers maternity clothes and children’s outfits up through size 4T. They offer a super simple Frequent Shopper Program: For every $200 you spend in the store, you get $10 off your next visit! Favorite maternity brands to resell include Liz Lange Collection, Cadeau, Chiarakruza, Isabella Oliver, Olian, and Formes, while choices for kids encompass Catimini, Cakewalk, Marese, Oilily, Bonpoint, Jacadi, Clayeux, and Agatha Ruiz de la Prada (with a sprinkling of Gap, H & M, and Uniqlo thrown in and sold at an even deeper discount).
191 East 3rd Street
NYC’s biggest maternity and children’s consignment store, Jane’s Exchange will not only outfit your child from, technically, well before birth, they will also give them an indoor place to play while you browse for bargains. Items on sale currently range from fluffy pink tutus to somber navy blazers, plus a custom tote bag to carry them out in. Children’s furniture is also available, as well as breast pumps, strollers, and car seats.
St. Luke’s Thrift Shop
487 Hudson Street – Lower Level
Sponsored by the church and initially set up to provide the neighborhood’s homeless population with clothing, job interview attire, and other needed essentials, St. Luke’s also offers a great selection for bargain hunters when it comes to baby goods and extremely marked down designer clothes. Their handbag sales in March and September are extremely popular with moms.
Angel Street Thrift Shop
118 West 17th Street
This “Bargain Hunter’s Dream,” according to New York Magazine, receives donations not only from the fashionable denizens of Chelsea and surrounding areas, but directly from designers and home furnishing companies, making their merchandise not only nearly new, but on the cutting edge of the latest styles, as well. Keep your calendar open especially for their pre-Thanksgiving and Christmas sales.
23 Hawthorne Street (near Flatbush) in Prospect Lefferts Gardens
Shop from the comfort of your own home at Monk’s, as he posts pictures of his best new items when they come in. (However, if you want to buy, hurry on down to Brooklyn via the Q, B, or 2 train; the good stuff won’t last long.) Children’s clothes range from sizes 0 to 6 and often go for an average 75% off retail price. Monk’s also has a selection of toys and books, and, this month, is soliciting Halloween costumes. So either bring in your old ones and pick up some extra cash upfront, or dig around and find a hidden treasure of your own!
96 N 6th Street
Though primarily a store that sells new clothing, shoes and toys for infants and toddlers, Flying Squirrel does a brisk trade in secondhand baby carriers, diaper bags, furniture, equipment, and walkers. Since all those above can be quite pricey, it makes sense to check out gently used versions, especially as a way to decide whether you actually like it before buying a new one.
Unique Thrift Stores
218 West 234th Street
408 Fulton Street
161-20 Jamaica Avenue
Operating 30 stores across the United States (including three in NYC), Unique’s mission is to serve the community by providing quality secondhand merchandise in a pleasant shopping environment. They offer a VIP Program with discounts and exclusive offers. But be warned before you set off: The sheer quantity of items on sale has been known to turn a quick trip into an all-day bargain hunting extravaganza.
Assorted NYC locations
With so many options to choose from, if the Housing Works Thrift Shop on the Upper West Side doesn’t have what you’re looking for, try Gramercy. Or Hell’s Kitchen. Or Park Slope. Or Yorkville. All funds raised go to help fight homelessness and AIDS.
Do you have a favorite place to get great deals? Let us know! (We won’t tell a soul…)
Photos courtesy of Alina Adams and Allison Ellis.