Spring is here, bringing forth sunlight, warm afternoons, budding leaves on trees, and an excuse to rework your wardrobe with some new warm-weather friendly clothing purchases. But new doesn’t have to mean “new,” as in, "fresh-off-the-rack, never-been-worn, with a price tag of sixty dollars" new. New can mean new to you, and the Boston area has plenty of thrift and consignment options for all kinds of shoppers.
1.The Garment District: Split up into two floors, this place separates the men from the boys – go upstairs for the usual assortment of vintage and consignment hanging neatly on racks, and go downstairs to dive head first into a heaping pile of old clothes. For $1.50 per pound ($1.00 on Fridays), shoppers wade through miscellaneous and sometimes questionable items such as floor length velvet skirts, t-shirts from someone’s vacation to Seaworld, moo-moos, old pillow cases, and children’s pajamas. Those looking for an adventure rather than an end result fare best here, though there is the occasional hidden gem lurking under that old reindeer sweater (which, depending on the shopper, could be the hidden gem itself).
2.Urban Renewals: With fluorescent lighting, color-coded tag sales, and the lingering smell of musty closets and mothballs, Urban Renewals is reminiscent of the average Goodwill or Salvation Army, but around double the size. If you’re a fan of the typical thrift shopping experience then this is the place you want to be. Grab a carriage and meander the aisles. Keep in mind there are no dressing rooms, so be prepared to compete with fellow shoppers for mirror space, or to resort to guesstimating the fit of some items. If you’re not in the market for clothes and perhaps in search of the perfect used coffee maker or generic still life painting, Urban Renewals has a giant home goods section, too.
3.Second Time Around: The fact that its two Boston area locations are Newbury Street and Harvard Square should give shoppers the hint that this place is more on the upscale side of the consignment spectrum. Specializing in used designer pieces, the price tags in Second Time Around are higher than anywhere else on the list, even for items that weren’t produced by well known names and aren’t particularly remarkable. Second Time Around is small, well-organized, and has more of a boutique vibe than your average second hand shop, though, making it a good fit for anyone accustomed to spending big bucks on clothes and looking to transition to more thrifty spending habits.
4.Buffalo Exchange: This thrift chain has recently spread to the east coast. The store deals directly with customers on a buy, sell, trade basis, meaning you could potentially bring in an old pair of jeans taking up space in your closet and get a fancy dress instead. The thing that makes shopping at Buffalo Exchange easier (or less fun, depending on the shopper) than the standard thrift shop is that they pick and choose the best pieces out of everything brought to them. Think of it as a sort of Salvation Army that’s been sifted through once already and only all the good stuff is left behind.
Store Locations and Hours
The Garment District: 200 Broadway Street, Cambridge, MA. Open Sunday through Friday, 11am-8pm, Saturday 9am – 8pm.
Urban Renewals: 122 Brighton Avenue, Allston, MA. Open Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, 9am – 6pm, Thursday and Friday 10am – 8pm, and Sunday 12pm – 8pm.
Second Time Around: 8 Eliot Street (Harvard Square), Cambridge, MA and 219 Newbury Street, Boston MA. Open Monday through Friday 11am – 7pm, Saturday 10am – 7pm, and Sunday 12pm – 6pm.
Buffalo Exchange: 238 Elm Street (Davis Square) Somerville, MA. Open Monday through Saturday 11am-7pm and Sunday 12pm-5pm.