East Village Thrift Shop

East Village Thrift Shop

Photo: Cititour.com

Neighborhood: East Village
Type of Place: Thrift Shops

Common wisdom dictates that unlike their out-of-town brethren, NYC thrift stores have no bargains to offer: Saddled with high commercial rents and picked over regularly by tri-state hipsters, they end up trying to interest you in, say, a particularly boring blouse from the Gap with a small tear in the sleeve, priced at $12—or perhaps a cute but nondescript jacket from the late '70s, priced at $100.

Take heart—although this is often the case, there are exceptions. I have found many a great deal in city thrift stores—for example, a beautiful pair of Prada pumps on the Upper East Side, on sale for $20. (When I'm wearing them, strangers need only glance toward my feet to hear about where I found the shoes and how lucky I was....)

Passing by at lunch time, I decided to check out the stock of the bluntly named East Village Thrift Shop. Bad news first: The clothing is not sorted by size, so come prepared to dig (and dig). But good news: They're not overpriced, and I spotted some lovely, useful, and/or unique items lurking in the mix.

Women's tops start at around $5 and don't climb much from there. I found a great "Last Days of Disco"-y dusty-pink top woven through with silver thread; it was practical enough for work, cute enough for post-work drinks, and priced at $5.99. A linen blouse in pale green with a pink, orange, and blue print looked to be from 1976 or so, was in perfect condition, would also travel well from desk to bar, and was $6.99.

Women's and men's jeans are uniformly priced at $6.99. All seemed to be in reasonable condition. If you've got the time and the patience, you might want check the racks to see if there are any old Levis in your size. Now that their last stateside factory has closed, Levis that were made here will be items to hold onto.

There's a decent selection of men's clothes, with shirts starting at around $4.50 and a healthy assortment of jackets and blazers starting at around $6. In women's dresses, an April Cornell beaded shift in pale green would be perfect for a summer wedding and was $12. The kids' clothing was quite sweet, very affordable, and—amazingly, since presumably it had been worn by infants and toddlers—spotless to the point of looking brand new.

Hardcover books are $2 each, paperbacks $1 or less (I found a great old printing of an Aldous Huxley novel). Records are a buck each. (Who knew Barbra Streisand made a Christmas album?)

Of course, if you're looking for a very specific item, thrift shopping is not the best way to go. But if you've got time to browse and a sense of adventure, you're set. Good luck; and if you unearth your new favorite pair of shoes, I'll be happy to hear all about them.   - Pamela Grossman; 04, 2004

East Village Thrift Shop
186 2nd Ave.
New York, NY 10003