In an article about thrift stores, a clothes rack with sweaters in various shades of beige hanging from it. To the left of the clothes rack are two tan pieces of wheat.

The Best and Most Affordable Thrift Stores In NYC

How better to spend a day than exploring secondhand shops, finding cute clothes, and having enough money left over to buy food?
August 18, 2023
7 mins read

Since the beginning of the 2010s, fast fashion brands have ruled the market. From celebrity-endorsed “baddie” brands like Fashion Nova to the global domination of ridiculously underpriced clothing brands like Shein, it seems like there are no options for sustainability. But with the rise of garage-sale apps like Poshmark and Depop, a new market of ethical clothes shopping has emerged for the modern era. Thrift stores are nothing new, but the magic of modern technology has made it possible to browse hundreds of thousands of thrifted clothes with the same ease as scrolling on Instagram. However, this surge in buying second-hand has also created an entirely different, yet equally painful obstacle for fashion lovers: overpriced garments. The internet loves to make fun of Depop sellers who list yellowed, creased Nikes for just $10 off their original retail price, but this is a genuine issue second-hand shoppers face. It seems like everything is now being labeled “vintage” and “y2k,” which catapults prices into absurdity. Between wanting to avoid the environmental and ethical consequences of fast fashion and wanting to keep finances afloat, what are modern shoppers to do? Well, after painstakingly searching New York City for alternative options, I’ve found a few affordable thrift stores perfect for the fashion girlies on a budget!

1. Tired Thrift, 154 Allen St. also 10 Bedford Ave.

Tired Thrift is the ultimate hub for y2k fashion! Founded by NYC natives Ledi and Elona, this Brooklyn-based company specializes in seeking out the cutest 90s/00s garments. Their clothes are easily available for all who are sick of over-priced Depop clothes. Each garment varies in price based on care and quality. This store has a large supply of basic products like t-shirts, miniskirts and jeans, with most prices ranging from $20-$80. Of course, there is also a fair share of novelty y2k items that are worth more than they were 20 years ago. The only downside is its lack of sizing options, as each piece usually falls in the XS-M range. Tired Thrift’s insane amount of true vintage clothes undoubtedly makes it the most affordable and convenient location for y2k style in New York City. You can easily see each new drop by following @tiredthrift on Instagram!

2. East Village Thrift Shop, 186 2nd Ave.

East Village Thrift Shop is the epitome of thrift stores: stacked to the ceiling with merchandise, an array of garments spanning decades and loads of funky furniture! Lots of items are unpriced, so get your haggling hat on and prepare to work your way to the best deal. The clothes and furniture pieces are displayed in the front of the store, but if you work your way towards the back, you can find lots of cool CDs and vinyl! The store’s most unique aspect is undoubtedly its jackets. Real fur, leather, vintage Levi denim jackets; there are so many awesome pieces under one roof! While there are many true vintage pieces in this store, you’ll have to work up a sweat to find them, which makes this a bit less convenient than other locations on this list. Still, little places like this sometimes boast the rarest pieces. For hardcore thrifties, this store is one to check out!

3. Vintage Thrift Shop, 186 2nd Ave.

Vintage Thrift Shop has mostly furniture and artwork, but its selections are some of the best quality available in any thrift store in the city. Like East Village Thrift Shop, the store also has many true vintage clothing pieces, usually unworn and with tags still on! What really separates this store from others is its exquisite array of artwork. From paintings to gorgeous clay sculptures and vases, there are so many one-of-a-kind pieces of artwork that would bring an air of creativity to any living space! The prices do run a bit steeper, around $40-$300, but you can still find some true vintage items for around $20!

4. Buffalo Exchange, 714 Broadway

There are a million Buffalo Exchanges in the city, but this specific location always has the best hauls! Garments vary in price from $20-$40, which makes this place a bit steeper than your average Goodwill, but it’s worth it for the undeniable cleanliness of each product! Not to mention the amazing range of sizes and styles; you can find fashion from a wide variety of decades and aesthetics! Many of their best pieces are in their display window, and there are more throughout the thrift store. There’s also a lovely array of vintage jewelry and accessories right next to the cash register. This location has a nice amount of dressing rooms, and since it’s small, it’s not usually crowded. It also has its fair share of designer brands, but in true thrift store fashion, they’re normally hidden between giant stacks of clothing, so be on the lookout! Just like all Buffalo Exchange stores, everything is neatly organized, which makes the thrift experience much easier than at other shops.

And there you have it! Since it’s important to shop as ethically and sustainably as possible, buying second-hand is one way to ensure not just the lasting quality of your clothes, but also the planet! There are so many wonderful places in the city to find unique clothes at an affordable price. While the convenience of online shopping is sometimes too good to pass up, there’s nothing like spending a day bouncing from thrift store to thrift store and interacting with shop owners. Not only can you find one-of-a-kind pieces, but you can also have some of the most down-to-earth conversations that would be impossible on eBay.

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