Many of us have donated clothing to Salvation Army or Goodwill, but what about shopping there for ourselves? Thrift store shopping, or “thrifting,” has become a trend not only for those buying gently worn items out of necessity, but also among fashionistas looking for vintage or designer pieces at a steal. But is all the hunting worth it for that one special find? This weekend, the Savvy Staff found out for ourselves, exploring local consignment shops to discover the pros, cons, deals and steals at each location.
Goodwill Location: 1010 Harrison Ave, Boston
Goodwill looks like what most people expect a thrift store to be – large, open, and racks and racks of clothes sorted by color. What isn’t immediately obvious, is the hidden name brand and quality items that can be found if you spend a little time digging! We started at the homegoods department, which was huge! Here’s a couple finds we loved:
Of course, the most exciting part was the racks and racks of clothing! Although the setup seems intimidating at first glance, once we started exploring, some great pieces caught our attention:
Rachel Mara seafoam & orange top ($4.99) J Crew nautical sweater ($4.99)
Talbots classic black blazer ($6.99) Ann Taylor Loft teal top($4.99)
Second Time Around Location: Newbury Street, Boston
For brand enthusiasts, Second Time Around offers designer pieces at consignment prices. Although the prices are much higher here than Goodwill, everything you find is sure to be good quality, clean, and gently worn. Clothes are bought from previous owners, rather than donated, but still sold at a fraction of their original retail price – 60-75% markdown – and the price goes down from there the longer the item stays in store. From Betsey Johnson to H&M, here are a few of our designer finds:
This Rory Beca dress sells for $59 at STA – compare with this similar dress on the designer’s website for $216
We also found this cute Betsey Johnson dress for $119
Although the store focuses on designer brands, you can also find lesser priced items like this H&M Garden Collection dress ($15) and this tagless Aztec crop top ($9). Items are marked down according to how long they’ve been in the store, and there’s a section in the back specifically for finds under $20!
There are also racks of basic staples and denim at a variety of price points.
Like Goodwill, Second Time Around is a chain, with locations across the Northeast (there are 12 in greater Boston alone!), so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to shop for that perfect designer piece.
On the spectrum from nearly free steals to designer discounts, Buffalo Exchange falls somewhere in the middle. While they carry high end designers, you can also find a variety of mall brands like Forever 21 and Gap. The store’s organization also falls between the exclusive boutique feel of Second Time Around, and the spacious Goodwill sales floor. Similar to Second Time Around, Buffalo Exchange selectively buys clothing and accessories, ensuring they are season-appropriate and in good condition. Although we did not make it to the shop this weekend, a member of the Savvy Staff who has shopped the store says one of the best deals there is the designer jean selection. Ranging from $15-$45, you can find Lucky Brand, Hudson and Seven jeans for way less than anywhere else.
Thrifting is a fun and savvy way to find the designer brands and styles you crave at a fraction of the price. However, in order to reap the benefits, you must be willing to put in the effort. While we found great pieces, it took some searching, especially at Goodwill. The key to thrift store shopping is choosing the store that’s right for you. If you’re only interested in high-end clothing and accessories, and are willing to spend some extra cash, Second Time Around is the best choice. But if you aim to find the best deal possible, and have a few hours to spend, shopping at Goodwill allows you to find unique items and brand name pieces at the lowest prices out there. And for something in between, give Buffalo Exchange a try!
Unlike major department stores and mall chains, inventory is switched out multiple times daily, and there are always new items to score. If you’re serious about thrifting, make sure to check back several times a season for new finds – you won’t be disappointed!
Would you try thrifting? For those of you who have, tell us about your best find. We’d love to hear from you.
-The Savvy Staff