After 10 years of living in NYC, most recently Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the hipster capital of the world, the bf and I decided to move to the suburbs and commute into the city (35 minutes on an express commuter train that has a quiet car!). Not only do I have a walk in closet, a spare bedroom, a parking space and the ability to sleep at night without constant noise, I’ve found thrifting to be much more fun than in NYC.
Thrift store shopping is quickly becoming destigmatized, with people realizing the fantastic finds and prices to be had. The downside of that is things in NYC tend to be either picked over or ridiculously priced for thrift. It takes a pro to know where the best spots are in the city these days. (Shout out to fellow thrift bloggers- Looking Fly on a Dime and Tales From the Thrift are two fantastic thrifty fashion blogs that find and report the best thrift spots in NY!)
I recently started to venture past the typical Goodwill shopping trips and look for church tag and rummage sales in Westchester County. SO. GLAD. I. DID. Not only do well-to-do parishioners donate to their churches, but they’re also only held once or twice a year, so the amount of merchandise tends to be huge and not as outrageously priced.
Some of my crowing achievements from 2 visits to a week long clothing sale at a nearby church (St. Barnabas in Irvington, NY for you locals!) :
An Erdem jersey dress. That retails for $800. I got it for $12. Will be selling it on ebay soon…for much less than $800.
Here’s everything. It came to $190 all together. I came home with:
- 3 belts (one was Bottega Venetta with the tags still on it!)
- Vintage Gucci boots
- Nearly new tap shoes
- Character dance shoes (used for ballroom type dancing, or can be turned into tap shoes)
- Light pink rain coat
- A brand new in the packaging Nicole Miller bath robe
- Vintage Diane Von Furstenberg flats
- 2 pairs of Michael Kors flats
- Insulated gloves
- A few dressy tops
- Cashmere and cable knit sweaters from Talbots, Ann Taylor and Brooks Brothers
- A black knit circle scarf
- Bean Boots! That were sold out for months since they’ve become trendy
- A small coach purse
- 7 for all Mankind dark wash skinny jeans
- A colorful, retro looking dress
- A jersey Erdem dress
One hundred and ninety dollars for all that! The church sale is held yearly and the money goes to support local charities such as the Humane Society. They even had some of the older ladies selling baked goods and lunch! I had so much fun digging and chatting with the lovely people running the sale.
I’m going to stick to haunting my local thrift stores, but now I’m on the lookout for tag/rummage sales.
Here’s some tips for finding similar sales in your area:
- Check churches, synagogues, or organizations like the Junior League in wealthier parts of town. They’re more likely to receive high-end donations
- Don’t forget the less-wealthy parts of town too, though- this is where I find the most vintage, funky, and unique clothing and home items
- Check Craigslist, the local classifieds, or the newspaper
- Do a Google search for local churches and look on their individual websites for upcoming sales- sometimes they aren’t advertised on Craigslist or in local papers
- Churches are modern now too- look up their Facebook pages! They tend to post info about sales there
- Join a local community Facebook group- organizations often post sale info here too
- A good old Google search with the following key words: church rummage sale, tag sale, attic sale, thrift sale, fundraiser sale, etc [name of your town/area/zip code]
Shopping these sales
- Bring CASH! Most sales don’t have credit card machines as they can be very expensive
- Unless there are signs indicating that bargaining is ok, assume the marked price is what you’ll pay
- Wear a bag or purse with a cross-body strap so your hands are free to rummage.
- Some people can be really, really pushy. Thrifting is like that unfortunately. Just let them go and don’t push back. It’s not worth getting into a fight with people…there’s plenty of deals to be had.
- The last day usually has markdowns. The sale I went to marked EVERYTHING down 50% on the last day. If there’s something that’s a little higher in price that you like, it might be wise to wait a bit…
- …but on the same token, if it’s a busy sale, it might not be there when you go back. If you can’t live without it, snap it up. If you are on the fence, take a chance and check back towards the end of the sale.
- Bring a big bag. Most sales don’t have carts or baskets, so bringing a big shopping bag, like the notorious big blue bags from Ikea to tote around your finds.
- Some sales have fitting rooms, but often they don’t. If you want to try things on, I suggest wearing leggings and a tank top with a shirt or sweater over the tank so you can try things on over your pants/tank.
- Take some time to chat with the people running the sales. They’ll often be great sources of information about when new merchandise will be placed on the floor, when markdowns are, and future sale dates.
- Don’t be put off if you walk in and the sale looks pretty lame. It doesn’t hurt to take a look around. There might be a few hidden treasures among what seems to be a lot of junk.
- Sometimes these sales are specifically just clothing, but are often general sales with household items, kids stuff, books, etc.
- The final rule, which goes for all thrifting, is be patient. The things I bought above were side by side with some pretty ridiculous 80s sweaters, old-lady blazers, and so-not-my-style mom jeans. Plan on spending a while searching and you’ll most likely be rewarded.