I've always been a sucker for a deal. Growing up in the Midwest, I adopted the shopping rules set by my mom, who always ignored the merchandise at the front of a store and walked blindly to the sale section in the back. As far as she was concerned, the regularly-priced stuff just didn't exist. It was there, among the disorganized discount racks, that I learned never to settle for anything less than 50% off. I learned that the word "clearance" always trumps "sale," and I learned how to haggle over a slightly torn hem for an extra 10% off an already-reduced skirt. I learned to buy winter coats in the spring and swimsuits in September. If it wasn't a deal, we weren't interested.
When I was sixteen, small town retail sales became my gateway to more extreme discount hunts, and I began breaking for garage sales and raiding local consignment stores. This was also around the time I first encountered those two ubiquitous thrift store giants, Goodwill and The Salvation Army. Unfortunately, at my naive and impressionable young age, I only associated these donation-based thrift stores with being unable to afford retail. Although my friends and I would hit up both chains if we needed cheap items for costumes or DIY projects, it hadn't yet occurred to us that we could also buy plenty of cute, everyday clothing. But it was while on a costume search at The Salvation Army that I thrifted my first non-novelty item of clothing--a vintage, lace-covered lilac pencil skirt. I couldn't believe something that beautiful and barely-worn could be had for a measly $4.
Fast forward seven years, and I'd decided to move to New York City, using up half my salary to pay rent in the city of my dreams. This was obviously insane, and after budgeting for food, obligatory social outings and my meager savings fund, I had little to spend in the way of work-appropriate clothing. Luckily, I still had (and fit into!) my lilac lace skirt, and as I slipped it on for work one day, I put two and two together. Armed with my discerning deal-hunting skills, I began thrifting in NYC, which I quickly discovered is a secondhand shopper's paradise. Take a city with 8.2 million people, mix in a critical mass of fashionistas and add a dash of well-to-do donors, and there's rarely a need to ever return to retail. That's not to say I don't supplement my wardrobe with the occasional retail item, but nowadays, I'd estimate at least 75% of my clothing comes from thrift and consignment stores. And not only is thrifting financially savvy, it's also a great alternative to the treadmill of disposable "fast fashion," which is environmentally- and ethically-questionable at best.
But for all its perks, thrifting in New York can definitely be overwhelming. Fluorescent lights, a lack of dressing rooms and the unfortunate smell of mothballs can make for a less than pleasant shopping experience. Not to mention, NYC thrift stores, consignment shops and flea markets draw ultra-competitive shoppers nowadays, making it all the more difficult to find those diamonds in the rough. And so, in an effort to make things a little less stressful, I'm starting this blog. It's a guide to all my favorite thrift spots, the best secondhand sales in NYC and a random collection of all the cool, cheap things I find on my thrifting adventures. I hope you enjoy it.