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.
Hello new thrifter, and 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 their 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 scene 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.
THE BEST GOODWILL IN UPTOWN MANHATTAN
The best Goodwill store in uptown Manhattan for great deals and a huge selection is the Goodwill in East Harlem on 3rd Avenue between 121st & 122nd streets. The exact address is 2231 3rd Avenue and the store can be reached at (212) 410-0973
The store is best accessible by taking the 4,5,6 train to 125th street and walking three blocks south to 122nd street and one avenue east to 3rd avenue. The 3-level store has friendly employees who are frequently restocking the store with a fresh selection of pieces. The store is organized by home (downstairs), women’s & women’s shoes (ground floor) and men’s, men’s shoes, children’s and women’s off season (upstairs). There are four fitting rooms in the entire store but only two are ever open, and they are the rooms on the ground floor.
The East Harlem Goodwill store is open Monday – Saturday from 9:30AM to 7:30PM and Sunday from 10AM to 7PM.
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, there is a wide enough space below the door to sneak under and open the door from the inside. There is also a bathroom on the basement level which is not normally open to the public, but if you ask sweetly an associate can grab you a key for you to use it!
BRING A BIG SHOPPING BAG: Also, when you first enter the store a security guard will open the door for you and ask that you check in your bags. Bring an extra large empty shopping bag to use as you shop, because the baskets are quite small and fill up here FAST! There are NO shopping carts, so it’s in your best interest to bring your own carrying bag that’s big enough to stash the sweet style you find!
SPECIAL DISCOUNTS: Everyday a different tag color is 50% off. One day it could be blue tags and the next pink and so on. There should be an announcement of sale tag color posted on the door when you enter but this isn’t always the case, so be sure to ask a sales associate what color is on sale as soon as you enter the store.
WINDOW SALES: The store has a massive window display of the best finds (usually designer!) that are put on display for a few weeks and then sold in a special “first come, first serve” system that is announced at the store a week or two prior. I believe this is unique to NYC and that 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!
There were two great window sales at the Goodwill store in Brooklyn last September as announced on the Goodwill style blog A Good Look by GoodwillNYNJ. Call the store in advance to ask when the window sales at your favorite NYC Goodwill will be, or tweet @goodwillNYNJ to check in for future sales and announcements!
DRAWBACKS: If an item is not priced when you find it on the racks, you cannot buy it. Goodwill has implemented this system across all of its stores nationwide. I suspect the reason was that associates were letting customers haggle on unmarked goods. So if you find a winner that isn’t priced, present it to the sales associate to be placed back behind the scenes into the “loading dock” where it will be priced to return to the floor within 48 hours.
Here’s a video where I thrifted lace from the Goodwill in East Harlem, which I consider to be the best Goodwill in uptown Manhattan! This small sampling of great finds should be evidence enough!
THE BEST GOODWILL FOR DEALS & VINTAGE FINDS
The best Goodwill for deals and vintage style isn’t even in Manhattan, and it isn’t even a “real” Goodwill with normal racks and fitting rooms and tags.
The BEST Goodwill for the BEST deals and vintage finds at the DEEPEST discounts is where you have to dig. Actually, you have to practically bring a shovel to really take advantage of this endurance-building shopping experience!
So what’s the best Goodwill store in New York for the BEST thrift & vintage deals? It’s the GOODWILL OUTLET located in Sunnyside, Queens. The address is 47-47 Van Dam Street, Long Island City, 11101. The phone number is (718) 392- 0125 and this is the store’s profile on the Goodwill website.
I was first tipped to this oh-so-secret source of great thrifted deals thanks to my friend Erica who works for consignment resell shop Encore NYC. Here’s a great Yelp review of the outlet for all the inside opinions you may desire before visiting!
OUTLET PRICES: The Goodwill Outlet contains about 25-30 big blue bins with wheels that are full of men’s, women’s & children’s clothing mixed together. There are separate bins to the left of the store that are separated into bags, shoes, belts, books, records and other miscellaneous items.
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 is the Goodwill Outlet full of GREAT DEALS? Because everything is sold BY THE POUND. That means with the right digging, you can get cheap vintage clothing everyday!
Textiles (clothing) costs as such:
Purchasing 1-24 lbs = $1.69 per pound
Purchasing 25-49 lbs = $1.49 per pound
Purchasing 50+ lbs = $1.29 per pound
All sales are absolutely final. But, with less financial risk being made with your purchases, it’s OK that you may buy a piece or two that you end up never wearing or perhaps giving away eventually as gifts.
FINDING VINTAGE HERE: It takes an expert vintage hunter to find vintage at the Goodwill outlet. But once it’s found, you are going to buy it for a stylish steal in comparison to purchase at a full-price Goodwill store.
The benefit to shopping for vintage at the outlet is that I estimate about 40% of all merchandise here is technically vintage clothing. This is because vintage clothing is not mainstream, therefore is not as picked over in the regular Goodwill stores.
Since vintage is less likely to be purchased at the Goodwill stores, that means there is a greater chance it will wind up for last-chance-purchase at the outlet. I’ve found some fabulous vintage pieces at the outlet costing me less than a $1 each.
Check out this video where I thrift an entire outfit at the Goodwill outlet costing me less than $10 for the Independent Fashion Bloggers Conference last spring. The video gives great tips on what to expect and how to take advantage of your outlet shopping experience best.
OUTLET TIPS: Visit the Goodwill outlet as early as you can. Ideally, visit when it first opens at 10AM! Why should you visit as soon as the store opens? Because everyday there are new pieces in the blue bins. No different day has the same pieces out for sale. After the day has ended, the remaining inventory in the bins is space wrapped and sold to third world countries for approximately 20 cents per pound.
When the store first opens from Monday-Saturday at 9:30AM or Sunday at noon, blue bins take up about half the floor. Every 10-15 minutes or so, the sales associate move NEW bins onto the floor! So you will be present when fresh pickings first come onto the floor.
Every time a new bin hits the floor, this is when shoppers in the outlet quite literally swarm the bins — so be on the lookout for greedy hands and aggressive personalities! You can see this “swarming of the bins” first hand by watching my video at the outlet above.
The Goodwill Outlet is literally your last chance to purchase these thrifted pieces in the United States. Finding the pieces is a first come, first find basis — you snooze, and you lose!
OUTLET HOURS: The outlet is open Monday to Saturday 9:30AM to 6:30PM and Sunday from noon to 6PM.
OUTLET DIRECTIONS: The Goodwill Outlet of New York City is located in the borough of Queens. The outlet is best accessible by taking the 7 train from Times Square or Grand Central stops in Manhattan. Take the 7 train to 33rd street. The exact address 47-47 Van Dam Street, Long Island City, NYC 11101.
Once off the train, exit at intersection of 33rd Street (Rawson Street). Walk south on 33rd Street towards 47th Avenue. Turn right onto 47th Avenue, then left onto Van Dam Street. You will walk past some non descript buildings on your right and a diner on your left. Then you should walk past the Van Dam diner and then a video game arcade on your left. The Goodwill Outlet is immediately after the arcade on your left.
These directions are thanks to HopStop.com.
MY SPECIAL TIPS: There are NO changing rooms at the Goodwill outlet. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t try things on to assume whether they will fully fit or not.
I always wear a special “cat suit” that consists of tight leggings and a tight top, ideally a body suit or a shell/tank that can be tucked into my leggings. That way I can slip on sweaters, dresses, pants, etc. without having to worry about getting half-naked in the aisle in front of other busy thrifters. By wearing tight clothing, I’m practically in my own skin anyway!
Unlike my favorite uptown Goodwill store, there are shopping carts at the Goodwill Outlet. When it becomes quite busy at the outlet, there are people and carts everywhere and it can be hard to move between the bins to successfully and sanely rummage. So like my suggestion with the uptown Goodwill store, it will serve your needs best to bring your own grocery bag so that you can park your cart elsewhere and better sneak between the bins if the crowds are thick.
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.
Erin, I hope that answers your question and that you’re inspired to take on thrifting Goodwills 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!
@ your style service,