Style and the city go hand in hand, but let’s be clear: Shopping in the Big Apple doesn’t have to cost big bucks. Secondhand stores are where we score the more unique, vintage, or one-of-a-kind finds that turn an afternoon into the best kind of surprise scavenger hunt—you don’t know what you’re looking for until you see it!
This season I explored some of my favorite New York City thrift and vintage venues in search of fun, functional finds to share these locally owned businesses that work for the community. There’s no reason not to hit the thrift stores in NYC.
Cure Thrift Shop
111 East 12th St
This place is a work of art in itself. A well-dressed mannequin and a 50%-off bulletin are typical welcome hallmarks at Cure Thrift Shop, enticing shoppers with a storefront display featuring retro furniture and eclectic decor.
Inside, you’ll find fitting rooms outfitted with magazine and newspaper collage wallpaper, where you can try on plenty of name-brand and high-end clothing, including a consistent selection of cashmere sweaters in the fall and winter, plenty of business-casual attire, slacks, and cocktail dresses. There’s also an ample men’s section!
Prices at Cure can range from a few dollars (awesome long-sleeve knits for under $5!) to over $100 for more luxury pieces, though frequent half-off specials on clothing make this Manhattan secondhand boutique the perfect combination of luxe meets livable. I recently invested in a versatile A-line dress from resort fashion brand Calypso, in my favorite cut and cerulean hue, for $32.
Cure Thrift Shop founder Liz Wolff, who was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age 11, donates the store’s proceeds to Type 1 diabetes research and advocacy, combining her passion for outreach with her interest in art and antiques.
Out of the Closet
475 Atlantic Ave
Stop by if you’re a fan of comfy-classic basics, dresses, and sensible shoes—all of which I found in plenty. I took home a pair of low-top black Converse All Star sneakers ($8) and a flowy, high-low LBD ($7). Needless to say, as a Brooklynite within walking distance of this quality-meets-economy hot spot, I’ll be back!
Out of the Closet directly serves people living with HIV. The shop contributes 96 cents of every dollar to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and offers free HIV testing on-site. Out of the Closet also runs a pharmacy, so guests can fill prescriptions while they shop.
Life Boutique Thrift
515 5th Ave
66 5th Ave
469 Vanderbilt Ave
Now with three locations, Life Boutique Thrift specializes in high-quality and vintage secondhand. This shop was founded by Borough Park couple Hershy and Leah Mayer, when Leah’s friend contacted her about selling her late mother’s vintage purse collection for a charitable cause. Proceeds benefit Chai Lifeline, which provides supportive services and summer camp opportunities for children with life-threatening illnesses.
266 5th Ave
On theme with its affordable housing advocacy, Housing Works carries a wide array of furniture staples and home goods at prices that reflect human-scale earnings, budgets, and living within our means. (After literally years of searching, I found the perfect denim button-down for $5!) Also, this national nonprofit enables customers to shop online!
Housing Works supports economic opportunity, advocacy, and lifesaving services for people affected by the twin crises of HIV/AIDS and homelessness, raising awareness and funds for its mission to end the AIDS epidemic in New York state by 2020, the United States by 2025, and worldwide by 2030.
Purchasing secondhand is more sustainable, affordable, and adventurous than buying new. Locally owned NYC thrift and vintage shops are fueled by plentiful donations from a city famous for fashion. These four community-oriented stores specialize in quality, classic selections at sensible prices, for good causes. By paying attention to who pays it forward, we can shift shopping to social action in New York City.