For shopping addicts, New York City (NYC) is a dream come true. There are shops around every corner catering to every taste, size and pocket. Even for cash-strapped university students, there are places to visit that won’t burst your budget. Many of the clothes available at thrift shops around New York retail for less than S$30, and you can also pick up many pre-loved branded gems for under S$100.
If you’re a shopaholic looking to visit NYC and yet you’re sick of the usual tourist traps, thrift shopping is a definite must-do which allows you to explore another more local and heartwarming side to Manhattan.
Before we share the list, you need to understand that thrift shops can be broken down into three kinds of categories – the cheap-as-dirt thrift shop, the expensive-and-curated thrift shop, and the vintage-designer thrift store.
The cheap-as-dirt thrift shops, as the name suggests, are stores that sell really cheap clothes; we are talking skirts at US$3 and jackets at US$15. These thrift shops usually are goodwill stores that donate proceeds to the homeless and the poor. Thus, they have tons of clothes that go at very low prices, catering mainly, but not exclusively, to people who are truly cash-strapped. Most of the clothes in these shops are more utilitarian than fashionable. However, if you’re willing to spend a whole day searching, you will definitely uncover gems in these stores.
The expensive-and-curated thrift shops cater to a different audience, and feel very different. While the cheap-as-dirt thrift shop looks very sparse and utilitarian, the expensive-and-curated thrift shops feel luxurious and stylish. It’s akin to Target versus Zara. These thrift shops do all the work of thrifting for you by sorting through clothes and only offering those that have fashionable appeal. But this is also their justification for charging you higher premiums; clothes can go for anywhere between $30 and $90.
The vintage-desinger thrift store shares some of the characteristics of the expensive-and-curated thrift stores, but sell exclusively vintage branded goods. If you’re looking to pick up a Gucci or Prada bag at a reasonable price, these stores are a good place to hit.
So, here is our Ultimate Guide to Thrift Shopping in Manhattan. This list has been organised according to where the stores are located so you can hit the stores in clusters.
1. Cure Thrift Shop
Cure Thrift Store is one of those curated stores that offers high-end thrift clothes, shoes and furniture. The items are all pretty pricey by thrifting standards, but the decor of this place makes it worth visiting. All the proceeds go to the Diabetes Research Institute, so you can do your part for charity while shopping. It is note-worthy that Cure has occasional sales and items can retail at up to 50% off. On those days, this store is definitely worth a look.
Cure Thrift Shop is found at 111 E 12th Street, New York, NY 10003.
2. Buffalo Exchange
Buffalo Exchange is a great place to find clothes; while it can be considered a curated thrift shop, its clothes are reasonably priced between US$20 and US$30. The selection is borderline extensive and borderline stylish; many of the clothes here are worth taking another look at.
Buffalo Exchange is located at 332 East 11th Street, New York, NY 10003
3. East Village Thrift Shop
East Village is one of my personal favourites because I’m one of those bargain hunters who are willing to spend hours hunting for one or two gems. With the overwhelming selection of clothes, East Village is a massive fire hazard, but there are many true treasures hidden here. With skirts and jackets retailing under US$10 and shirts under US$5, you can get great steals at this place. East Village is also a place that pulls off the cheap-as-dirt thrift store in a very cozy fashion, so unlike the Giant Supermarket analogy, think of the old-fashioned and cozy provision stores below the block.
East Village Thrift Store is located at 186 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10003
One of those tiny and pretty thrift stores, AuH20 has a really small selection of clothes, but each of them is exquisitely chosen. You won’t find anything that isn’t special at this store, and for this selection of clothes, the prices aren’t overly pricey either. If anything, visit for a dose of inspiration, and you might walk away with a pretty jacket or two!
AuH20 is located at 84 E 7th Street, New York, NY 1000.
5. Tokio 7
Tokio 7 is a consignment store for designer goods. Find your designer handbag here for a fraction of its original price, or get a designer furcoat at a steal. While designer clothes aren’t exactly up my alley, the selection here is really great with tons of designer merchandise to check out. I would definitely recommend a visit here if you’re a brand junkie.
Tokio 7 is located at 64 E 7th Street, New York, NY 10003.
(Note: Hit Tokio AuH20, East Village, Buffalo Exchange and Cure together. They are all roughly located around East Village.)
6. Goodwill Thrift Store and Salvation Army Thrift Store
Located next to each other along 23rd Street, Goodwill Thrift Store and Salvation Army Thrift Store have been lumped together because of the similar vibe of these stores. Both fall under the cheap-as-dirt category, though I would definitely say that Goodwill Thrift Store has much more to offer in terms of hidden gems.
With the sheer volume of clothes at these two stores, there are several treasures to be found at really low prices – think US$4.99 for a sweatshirt and US$9.99 for jeans. The main thing that irks me about Salvation Army Thrift Store, though, is the lack of changing rooms, while Goodwill Thrift Store provides changing rooms. That, coupled with the better selection that Goodwill offers, means that if you’re running short of time, choose Goodwill over Salvation.
Goodwill Thrift Store is located at 220 E 23rd Street, New York, NY 10010. Salvation Army Thrift Store is located at 212 E 23rd Street, New York, NY 10010.
7. City Opera Thrift Store
Located right next to Goodwill Thrift Store and Salvation Army Thrift Store, City Opera Thrift Store is worlds apart in terms of decor and selection of clothes. The place is beautifully decorated with eclectic selections of both furnishings and clothes. Two stories high, City Opera Thrift Store offers all things exquisite and wonderful, with prices in the very high range of thrift stores. Enter to marvel at the decor, if not for anything else.
City Opera Thrift Store is located at 222 E 23rd Street, New York, NY 10010.
8. Vintage Thrift Shop
Vintage Thrift Shop is another one of those thrift shops you visit to marvel at, with all things old and vintage-y here. There are both designer and non-designer vintage items here, all in pretty good condition. Take a trip back in time here at Vintage Thrift Shop and discover old classic pieces by Ralph Lauren or Dior. Some of the bags here are gorgeous, and the prices reasonable too.
Vintage Thrift Shop is located at 286 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10010.
(Note: Hit the Vintage Thrift Shop, City Opera Thrift Store, Goodwill Thrift Store and Salvation Army Thrift Shop together.)
This list is compiled by Goh Weiying of ShopBack.sg.