Looking for something cool to wear, at a bargain price? Head to the thrift stores in Brooklyn to find great merchandise that nobody else will have. Shopping thrift stores is a great way to furnish a home, add to your wardrobe, and even find unusual gift items for special occasions.
Housing Works has two locations in Brooklyn, one in Park Slope and one in Brooklyn Heights. The former has children's goods, including toys and clothes. Both have a rapid turnover of fairly high-quality merchandise. Prices are not rock bottom, but you can find good buys, particularly on housewares and knick-knacks such as photo frames, bowls, and lamps. Look here for accessories, too—belts and bags, shoes and shawls. The items in the display windows are often the best, but these are sold by online auction. Housing Works also has a social mission and donates a certain amount of proceeds to fight AIDS.
Beacon's Closet is an experience. You can find great bargains here, and also resell or trade your own cool vintage items. It's the heart of the Brooklyn vintage scene, with three stores across Greenpoint, Park Slope, and Bushwick. Although you won't find any expensive brand names, the clothes are still stylish, and typically marked under $20.
You never know what you might find at the Salvation Army thrift stores in Brooklyn: vintage etched wine glasses, fabulous old shoes, plates, and silverware, or kids clothes galore. Tables, chairs, lamps, and even sofas can also be picked up and refurbished (try a can of spray paint on the wood and cane pieces). You need to have patience and imagination when shopping in one of the nine Salvation Army stores, but they're chock-a-block with stuff.
Brooklyn Flea is the most popular vintage market in Brooklyn. Local artisans come here to hawk their handmade, creative items. So expect to see a variety of goods, including retro furniture, gardening accessories, vinyl records, fancy threads, and more. Just keep in mind that with high-quality goods comes a large price tag.
If you're in the market for costume jewelry in the $12 to $20 range, try Union Max. You can also find a selection of inexpensive vintage clothing and shoes, as well as household items such as salt and pepper shakers. Union Max is a little off the beaten path, located in the "Waterfront District" of Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens.
Amarcord in Williamsburg is a good source for high-end vintage clothing from all over the world. The inventory covers the period from Victorian to the 1990s and features both famous labels and unknowns. The owners are from Italy and they go to Europe on seasonal buying trips, focusing on the styles that made Italian fashion famous, like Gucci, Fendi, Pucci, Valentino, and the like; French and English designers are also well represented.
The merchandise changes with the seasons and each season is treated as a complete collection. Outfits are color-coordinated and reflect current fashion trends. Customers can also shop online from a large selection of accessories, jewelry, shoes, handbags, and more.
In the same building as the Buffalo Exchange thrift shop on Driggs Avenue, you'll find Monk's, an eclectic blend of second-hand and older vintage pieces. Even in Williamsburg, vintage for men can be difficult to find, but Monk's has a large selection of jeans, plaid shirts, and tees. Monk's also sells women's clothing, shoes, bags, sunglasses, and even jewelry, so if you're stumped on what to wear to a party and don't want to break the bank, stop into Monk's.