Just because New York is home to the wealthy and famous doesn’t mean you have to be either to find fabulous clothes, accessories and home decor when you visit. It goes to reason that the wealthier an area, the nicer the donations are to charity thrift stores and the better the goods sold at a discount to consignment and for-profit thrift shops.
This is why New York City has some of the best thrifting in the country. Not only are many of the finds high end, they are more unique when coming from a melting pot of hundreds of cultures.
The flea markets, as well, have great offerings that aren’t mass-marketed no-name plastic stuff found in other cities. Most vendors are up for bargaining. Some accept only cash or are willing to go lower if they don’t have to pay a credit card fee.
10 Best Thrift Stores and Flea Markets in New York City
The Grand Bazaar
This long-standing flea market on the Upper West Side every Sunday throughout the year definitely lives up to its name. More than 50 vendors offer a wide selection of mostly vintage goods.
Vintage clothes range from $10 T-shirts to $50 and up for couture dresses, and booths sell vintage housewares such as cocktail glasses and record players.
One vendor at The Grand Bazaar offers a table full of stone and wood pendants for $4 each, boxes of vintage postcards, shells, match books and other interesting trinkets, while another has iconic old cameras starting at $25.
Where to find The Grand Bazaar: 100 W. 77th St., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
This market offers antiques, unique vintage goods, architectural salvage and collectibles along with some new merchandise. One vendor at Chelsea Flea sells replicas of movie posters and album covers, while another sells hand-carved wooden African masks.
There’s a variety of vintage clothing from embroidered dresses to brightly patterned outfits from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Many booths offer home decor, too, such as art deco mirrors and glass fruit.
Where to find Chelsea Flea: 29 W. 25th St., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Housing Works is a New York City-based nonprofit fighting homelessness and AIDS. It raises money at more than a dozen thrift stores throughout the city with name-brand clothing and home goods.
Expect to see labels from Trina Turk, Tory Burch, Michael Kors, Zara and Vineyard Vines, to name a few. Housing Works carries men’s clothing and shoes, too. Stores are clean and designed to look like traditional retail stores.
Certain stores such as the Gramercy shop on East 23rd Street and the Union Square location offer more furniture, art and home decor than others. Prices on all clothes and other merchandise are good with some great deals, but not rock bottom and no bargaining.
Where to find Housing Works: There are multiple locations. Find them at Housingworks.org. Hours vary but are usually 11 a.m. or noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Mother of Junk
This warehouse full of old furniture, architectural salvage and knickknacks is almost as much of a museum as it is a store. It’s worth the trip to Brooklyn to walk up and down the crowded aisles even if you aren’t in the market for an art deco vanity or an old-fashioned school desk with a fold-down bench or carved fireplace mantel.
There are plenty of smaller treasures to buy, such as a tabletop metal replica of London Bridge that plays “London Bridge Is Falling Down” for $30, a tavern-style wooden dart board for $40 and manual typewriters starting at $25.
Baskets are overflowing with swizzle sticks and cardboard coasters from bars and hotels around the country, marbles, baseball cards, buttons, corks, wooden spools, board game pieces, cookie cutters, poker chips, old photos, and key chains priced from 25 cents and up to a few dollars. No bargaining.
Where to find Mother of Junk: 567 Driggs Ave., Brooklyn, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Warning: Phone calls are rarely answered or returned.
City Opera Thrift Shop
This shop that supports the opera offers top-quality contemporary and vintage clothes and home furnishings. You will find good deals (but not pennies on the dollar) at City Opera Thrift Shop on silk scarves and jean jackets to Gucci bags and Kate Spade wedges.
Where to find City Opera Thrift Shop: 513 W. 26th St.
This smaller national chain has two locations in Manhattan in the Chelsea area and one in Brooklyn. The prices at Crossroads seem the same or even slightly better than those at Buffalo Exchange, but the selection was better on a recent visit. Plenty of lesser-known low- to mid-tier brands along with some Zara, Banana Republic, Madewell and a vintage Marimekko dress.
Where to find Crossroads: There are three locations in Chelsea and Brooklyn open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
This national chain of used clothing stores has six locations in New York. Buffalo Exchange is not as curated as the Housing Works or the City Opera stores, but it offers a bigger selection and, on average, lower prices.
Along with designer labels, expect to see plenty of Old Navy, H&M and Forever 21. One recent visit netted gorgeous black Stuart Weitzman shoes with mirrored heels for $30 and a vintage Champion sweatshirt for $12.
Where to find Buffalo Exchange: There are multiple NYC locations. Most stores are open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.
This thrift store in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn has a huge inventory and wide range of brands and prices. The best deals we found recently at Monk Vintage were Lululemon shorts for $15, a men’s J.Crew corduroy jacket for $15, an Electric Forest music festival T-shirt for $25 and various leather belts for $10.
Where to find Monk Vintage: 500 Driggs Ave., Brooklyn. Open 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily
If you are really into vintage wares and deals, plan your trip to the Big Apple on one of the three weekends a year when Manhattan Vintage holds a showcase with more than 90 dealers. The event features jewelry, clothing and accessories from many decades of fashion.
Since 1992, the two-day expo has been a mecca for vintage dealers, collectors and the curious.
Expect to see secondhand gems such as original Levi jeans, Chanel suits and Gucci bags along with the more outrageous translucent dresses, go-go boots, plaid berets, plastic bangles in every hue and fake fur in every color as well.
Upcoming shows take place Oct. 14-15, 2022, and Feb. 3-4, April 14-15 and Oct. 20-21 in 2023. Sign up to buy the $20 admission tickets, which go on sale a month before each show.
Where to find Manhattan Vintage: Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 W. 18th St.
AuH20 in the East Village offers a kaleidoscope of brightly colored sweaters, dresses and shirts along with basic jean miniskirts, distinctive jewelry, fun sunglasses and even upcycled fanny packs. The $5 rack has great options.
Where to find AuH20 Thriftique: 84 E. Seventh St. Open noon to 7 p.m. daily in September. It may reduce its summer hours. Call 917-261-7474 to confirm.
Katherine Snow Smith is a freelance reporter and editor living between St. Petersburg, Florida, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.