Which NYC Goodwill Stores Have the Best Deals & Best Vintage Clothing?

by Sammy in 5 Comments — Updated May 23, 2024

Shopping in NY thrift store

Hi Sammy!

What is your favorite Goodwill in Manhattan (in the uptown area)? Also in your opinion which Goodwill has the best deals? Also, What Goodwill has the best vintage clothing??

I’m new to thrift store shopping and I wanted your opinion.

Thank you!

This is my response..

Dear Erin,

Welcome to the art of hunting for the best pieces at unbelievable prices!! I love hearing when a lady or gentleman has “converted” to the amazing experience that is thrifting, whether it’s for their wardrobe or just to find a particular piece when the mood strikes. Whether you thrift a fraction or 100 percent of the time, I believe that every lady and gentleman on this planet can turn to secondhand to secure a style that supports sustainability and creative self-expression!

Erin, I appreciate this question so much because I live in New York City, so finding the best options for thrift stores with a high chance of finding affordable vintage is a huge priority for me. I’m constantly scheduling trips to new thrift stores and checking out the scenes of old ones. While sometimes the landscape of best thrift options can change, there are a few tried and true stores that I always recommend to thrift newbies and experts alike.

I’m going to devote some time and effort to make an article for you and everyone interested in this topic. Let’s begin:

Finding genuine vintage and budget-friendly fashion items in the fast-paced, high-priced world of New York City can feel like a challenge. The struggle to stand out in a crowd of trendy outfits while staying within a budget can leave even the most determined fashion enthusiasts feeling defeated.

So today I’ll show you how to properly shop at the Goodwill NYC store, where you can find some fantastic pieces to keep your style game strong without breaking the bank.

Keep scrolling to transform the way you perceive thrift shopping!

History and impact of Goodwill thrift stores in New York

Goodwill thrift store sign

First of all, let’s see how the story of Goodwill started here in NYC.

Way back in the year 1902, Rev. Dr. Edgar J. Helms and his exploits in Boston set out to help people with disabilities get job skills and work their way up. They wanted to start a movement that mixes both secondhand style and community empowerment. Fast-forward to today, and Goodwill NYC is more than just your average thrift shop.

They have a whopping 165 thrift stores and donation spots across New York and Northern New Jersey. Just last year, they managed to rescue a jaw-dropping 38 million pounds of clothes and goodies from ending up in the trash!

The timeline of Goodwill Industries
Source: goodwillsc.org

Goodwill Industries empowers individuals with disabilities (as well as other barriers) to find employment, kick-start their careers, and gain independence. And hey, they’re all about diversity, equity, and making big waves with their “Double Impact” 3-year master plan.

When you shop or donate at Goodwill NYNJ, you’re also helping the environment. As I see it, you’re giving pre-loved items a fresh start and making the world a little greener.

Unveiling the top NYC Goodwill stores

Get ready, because I’m about to spill the tea on the best Goodwill thrift stores in New York. Whether you’re a pro at finding hidden gems or just want to try something new, these places will make you feel like a fashion queen.

NYC Goodwill in East Harlem

Goodwill store in New York

Store locations and accessibility

If you’re looking for a bargain paradise and a huge variety, the NYC Goodwill in East Harlem on 3rd Avenue between 121st & 122nd streets is the place to be. This is the largest Goodwill store in New York, and it has everything you need to create your own fabulous style.

The exact address is 2231 3rd Avenue and the store can be reached at (212) 410-0973

Here’s how to reach this vintage paradise:

Catch the 4, 5, or 6 train and make your way to 125th Street. From there, take a stroll three blocks south to 122nd Street and then saunter one avenue east to 3rd Avenue.

Easy peasy, right?

This three-level haven is a delight for thrift enthusiasts with friendly employees who are always on the ball, keeping the store stocked with fresh goodies.

Make your first visit to Goodwill store
Source: yelp

Be ready to explore different sections:

  • home décor on the lower level
  • women’s fashion and women’s shoes on the ground floor
  • and men’s, children’s, and off-season women’s wear upstairs

Also, there are four fitting rooms in the store – usually with two open for business – conveniently located on the ground floor.

The East Harlem Goodwill store is open Monday – Saturday from 9:30 AM to 7:30 PM and Sunday from 10 AM to 7 PM. Check out this great Yelp review of the East Harlem store for rave reviews!

Insider tip:

If an associate is not available to let you in the fitting room, a sneaky but handy trick is to slide under and open it from the inside (don’t worry, there is enough space). Plus, there’s a basement-level bathroom usually reserved for employees, but they might just hand over the key if you ask nicely.

Bring your own shopping bag

As you walk in, a security guard will request you to check in your bags. The baskets are quite small, and there are NO shopping carts. It’s in your best interest to bring your own carrying bag that’s big enough to stash the sweet merch you find!

Special discounts

Tag discount at the Goodwill store in NY
Image Source: yelp

Each day, a different tag color gets a 50% discount. Keep an eye out for the announcement of the sale tag color as you enter the store. If it’s not there, don’t hesitate to ask a sales associate.

Window sales

Keep an eye on the window display that shows off some of the best finds, often including designer pieces. They’re up for grabs in a special “first come, first serve” deal, and the details are announced a week or two ahead. I believe this is unique to New York, though; not every Goodwill around the country has a special window sale system.

Purchases are typically limited to two per person, which is why it’s in your best interest to get in line for the early AM sale right away!


Don’t get too excited if you see something without a price tag since you can’t buy it right away. Goodwill has gone nationwide with this rule. I suspect the reason was that associates were letting customers haggle on unmarked goods. It’s a bummer, I know, but give it to a salesperson, and they’ll take it back to the “loading dock” to get a price within 48 hours.

Don’t live in NYC but are inspired to seek great thrift finds? You can learn where the nearest Goodwill is to you simply by plugging in your zip code to the Goodwill store locator.

Goodwill Outlet Store & Donation Center

Goodwill Outlet Store sign

Are you ready to discover the best-kept secret in thrift and vintage shopping (other than Goodwill Online Auctions)? I’m talking deals that’ll make your wallet happy, and fashion finds that’ll have you striking a pose.

Drum roll, please, for the one and only – Goodwill Outlet Store & Donation Center in Sunnyside, Queens!

Forget the racks, tags, and fitting rooms; this is a thrift shopping experience like no other. It’s a treasure hunt of epic proportions where you might just need a shovel (figuratively speaking, of course) to score your ultimate vintage bargain.

Jot down the address: 47-47 Van Dam Street, Long Island City, 11101. You can also ring them up at (718) 392-0125. Check out their Goodwill profile here, on the official website.

Outlet prices

The Goodwill outlet prices in Queens

The store usually contains around 25-30 big blue new bins loaded with a mix of men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing. Plus, there are separate bins for bags, shoes, belts, books, records, and all sorts of cool knick-knacks.

To the very left, against the wall, are shelves of glassware, and at the front of the store near the entrance are electronics, lamps, and whatever furniture is available for purchase that day.

So, why’s this place a haven for deal hunters?

Well, everything’s sold BY THE POUND. Yep, you heard it right.

Check out the textile (clothing) prices:

  • 1-24 lbs = $1.69 per pound
  • 25-49 lbs = $1.49 per pound
  • 50+ lbs = $1.29 per pound

Once the purchase is made, it’s a done deal. But hey, with less risk to your wallet, it’s all good if you end up passing on a piece or two later.

Mastering the vintage hunt

Experience a new bin filled with fresh stuff put at the store

Finding vintage stuff at the Goodwill Outlet is not easy – but it’s worth the adventure. The best part? About 40% of the merchandise is vintage clothing.


Well, vintage isn’t your everyday mainstream thing, which means it’s often overlooked in regular Goodwill stores.

So, for all you vintage enthusiasts, the Outlet in Queens becomes the last stop for these hidden gems. I’ve even found some fabulous vintage pieces at the outlet, costing me less than $1 each.

Expert outlet tips

Aim to hit the Goodwill Outlet as soon as it opens its doors at 10 AM. Trust me, it’s worth setting that alarm. New bins hit the floor regularly, and no two days have the same stock.

And the leftover items?

They get packed up, shipped off, and sold to third-world countries for about 20 cents a pound.

The blue bins initially fill about half the floor. Every 10-15 minutes or so, the sales associates roll out NEW bins. That’s when shoppers in the outlet quite literally swarm the bins — so be on the lookout for greedy hands and aggressive personalities.

Outlet hours and route

The Goodwill Outlet NYC is open from Monday to Saturday, 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM, and from noon to 6 PM on Sundays.

Here’s how to get there:

Jump on the 7 train from Times Square or Grand Central stops in Manhattan. Hop off at 33rd Street (Rawson Street), and you’re almost there. Take a right onto 47th Avenue, followed by a left onto Van Dam Street. Pass nondescript buildings on your right and a diner on your left. Continue past the Van Dam diner and a video game arcade on your left; the Goodwill Outlet will be just after it.

My special tips:

There are NO changing rooms at the Goodwill Outlet, but here’s a clever trick:

I always slip into something snug— some kind of a “catsuit” consisting of tight leggings and a form-fitting top. That way, I can try on pieces without having to get half-naked in front of the whole store.

Unlike other Goodwill spots, you’ll find shopping carts here. But when it’s bustling, it’s a maze of people and carts. So, bringing your own big bag to wriggle through the crowds and bins is a game-changer.

Vintage clothing: Tips to spot authentic pieces

Woman inspecting vintage clothes at a thrift store

Let’s dive into the world of authentic vintage clothing – and how to separate the hidden gems from the wannabes.

Identifying marks of authenticity

Before you set sail into the treasure trove of secondhand style, let’s chat about how to spot the real deal. Here are a few tips to help you recognize authentic vintage pieces:

  • Quality Check: Vintage clothes were made to last.A woman checking the quality of the vintage dress

    Keep an eye out for well-constructed seams, quality fabrics, and details that show the item was crafted with care.

  • Labels & Tags:13 Tips for Identifying Vintage Clothing Labels & Tags

    Study the labels and tags. Authentic vintage often comes with unique labels that differ from modern ones. Look for tags that use older brand names or logos.

  • Stitching Techniques: Vintage pieces might have different stitching techniques than modern ones. For example, vintage clothes might have hand-sewn buttonholes, metal zippers, or pinked seams. Familiarize yourself with vintage sewing methods to identify the real McCoy.
  • Fabric Types:
    Vintage silk organza and rayon lace dress
    Credits: circavintageclothing.com.au

    Pay attention to the fabric. Vintage gems often use materials that have fallen out of favor in modern production, giving them a distinct look and feel. Look for fabrics like rayon, silk, wool, cotton, or linen.

  • Hardware & Zippers:
    Vintage zippers
    Image Source: steelzipper

    Hardware like buttons and zippers can provide clues. Authentic pieces might have special closures that have evolved over the years.

  • Wear Patterns: Natural wear and tear tell a story. You can expect signs of age – gentle fading, distressing, and even repairs – that hint at the garment’s history.
  • Pattern and Design:Outfit found at the Goodwll

    Vintage styles often carry designs and patterns that were popular during specific eras. Get familiar with the aesthetics of different decades.

Vintage era guide

Vintage styles from different periods

Alright, it’s time for a quick trip back in time! Let’s talk about vintage eras and how to spot clothing from different periods based on their design, fabric, and tags:

  • Roaring 20s: Think flapper dresses, dropped waists, and art deco patterns. Look for luxurious fabrics like silk and velvet.
  • Swingin’ 40s: With wartime influences, the 40s saw utility-focused designs with padded shoulders and A-line skirts. Look for pieces with practical yet elegant touches.
  • Fab 50s: Hello, poodle skirts and hourglass silhouettes! The 50s introduced full skirts, cinched waists, and playful prints.
  • Groovy 60s: Say hi to mini skirts, psychedelic prints, and mod fashion. The 60s were all about experimentation and bold statements.
  • Disco 70s: Think bell bottoms, platform shoes, and disco fever. Search for bright colors, wild patterns, and flowy fabrics.
  • Rad 80s: Shoulder pads, neon colors, and oversized everything. The 80s were all about excess and making a statement.
  • Grunge 90s: Embrace flannel shirts, Doc Martens, and relaxed fits. The 90s brought a laid-back, rebellious vibe.

Be sure to combine your knowledge of identifying labels with era-specific designs, and you’ll be a vintage style master in no time.

Maximizing savings: Tips to snag the best deals

Baskets at the Goodwill store
Image Source: amazinggoodwill

Ready to save big at thrift stores while scoring stylish finds?

We’ve got your back with some quick and effective strategies to make every Goodwill shopping trip a budget-friendly success:

  • Early Bird Wins: Get to Goodwill stores right when they open to catch the freshest selection and beat the crowds.
  • Tag Color Treasure: Keep an eye out for rotating tag color discounts. Different days mean different tags at 50% off – so choose the best time to visit!
  • Weekly Specials: Stay in the loop. Check Goodwill’s website or follow their social media for updates on weekly specials and promotions.
  • Outlet Adventures: Dive into the Goodwill Outlet in Queens for rock-bottom prices. Buy clothing by the pound and enjoy the thrill of the hunt.
  • Window Shopping: Don’t miss out on the window display sales. Nab designer finds for less during special “first come, first serve” events.
  • Tote It Right: Bring your own big shopping bag. Skip the small baskets and keep your hands free to explore the aisles.
  • Stay Regular: Visit Goodwill stores regularly. New items arrive daily, so you’ll always have fresh options to choose from.

Sustainability aspect: Why Vintage shopping matters?

Used clothes and textile waste at a landfill

Shopping vintage at Goodwill New York is a powerful way to make a positive impact on the environment and support ethical fashion practices.

Here’s why going vintage is a win for both your style and the planet:

  • Less Textile Waste: Fast fashion contributes to the overwhelming amount of textile waste. By choosing vintage, you’re giving old items a new life and diverting them from landfills.
  • Lower Carbon Footprint: The fashion industry is a major source of carbon emissions. Opting for vintage reduces the demand for new production, which means less energy consumption and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Ethical Labor Practices: Vintage clothing comes with a history. By avoiding new, fast fashion, you’re saying no to unfair labor practices that often happen with mass-produced clothes.
  • Preserving Resources: Creating new clothing requires a lot of water and resources. Shopping vintage saves these precious materials and helps minimize environmental degradation.
  • Unique Style Statements: Vintage pieces offer a one-of-a-kind style that stands out from the crowd. Be yourself and avoid the cookie-cutter designs of fast fashion.Which NYC Goodwill Stores Have the Best Deals & Best Vintage Clothing? 40
  • Promoting Circular Fashion: Shopping vintage is the best example of circular fashion. It makes clothing last longer and reduces the need for continuous production, ending the cycle of fashion waste.
  • Supporting Local Communities: Goodwill’s mission goes beyond fashion. Buying at Goodwill NYC supports local communities through job training and employment opportunities for those facing barriers to work.

So, if you choose to shop at Goodwill stores, you won’t be just upgrading your wardrobe – you will become a part of the solution for a better and more ethical fashion future.


Shop and make donations at the Goodwill thrift stores

And there you have it, fellow fashion adventurers!

Exploring the racks of Goodwill NYC stores is an adventure filled with surprises, style, and sustainability. Find vintage treasures, master the art of the deal, and enjoy the secondhand fashion that speaks volumes.

Find a Goodwill Near You

Don’t live in NYC, but are inspired like Erin to seek great thrifted finds? You can learn where the nearest Goodwill is to you simply by plugging in your zip code to the Goodwill store locator.

With every purchase, you’re contributing to a greener planet and fostering positive change in local communities.

Also be sure to follow Goodwill on Facebook for news about all things-thrift in your neck of the woods!

Erin, I hope that answers your question and that you’re inspired to take on thrifting Goodwill’s for great deals and sweet vintage finds in the city that never sleeps (and which loves to thrift!)

Didn’t answer your question completely? Please leave me a comment below for further clarification! And if anyone has further questions or advice please chime in by leaving a comment below!

5 thoughts on “Which NYC Goodwill Stores Have the Best Deals & Best Vintage Clothing?”

  1. Really great tips!

    • Estoy i teresado

  2. Your blog is where I first heard about Goodwill outlet stores. I was recently traveling in Florida and hit one up. I could a vintage Coach mini purse and an 80s Fendi purse… among a ton of other items! The outlet was a little scary people wise, but the finds were well worth it! Thanks for the tip.


    Hi Sammy,
    you’re a total doll… & I have a hankering that we would be good friends if we knew each other! I love your tips and tricks for styling vintage, and all of your outfits are eclectic, unique, and perfectly styled!


    Check out my vintage blog sometime:

  3. hi! i found this blog to be quite informative thank you. i am new to vintage shopping & i NEED to know where to go in NY or surrounding boroughs like queens etc to find really CHEAP denim i can cut into shorts? i find that the shorts in stores are too tight, too expensive & if i get larger than my size the waist wont fit. please help as i am beyond frustrated. have a nice day.

  4. Thank you for this Sammy! I just moved to NYC two months ago and have been on the HUNT for an outlet store. For some reason they don’t list the store as being an outlet store on the NY/NJ Goodwill website anymore! But I found your post when I Googled Goodwill outlet store! Yay I’m going to go soon! :D


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