The 12 Best Secondhand Shops in and around Boston
Love shopping vintage? Check out our guide on where to go for used clothing, furniture, and more
Shopping for clothes, furniture, and housewares can be a challenge on a student budget. Fortunately, Boston-area secondhand stores offer a wide range of goods, from tables and chairs to designer duds and accessories. And purchasing someone else’s castoffs is good for the environment, as well as your wallet. Consider this: the average American throws out 81 pounds of clothing each year, adding a staggering 26 billion pounds of textiles a year to landfills.
Whether you’re hitting a thrift, resale, consignment, or vintage store, you’ll find clothes and furniture for relatively low prices. There are differences, though: thrift stores sell donated items, resale stores pay sellers for items, and consignment shops accept items from owners, who get a percentage when the items sell. Resale shops tend to sell more current styles, while consignment shops normally sell a mix of vintage (items more than two decades old) and current clothing and accessories.
There is a thrill to unearthing a hidden gem at the bottom of a pile or at the back of a shelf, and knowing that it’s worth at least double what it’s marked. So, we’ve put together a list of secondhand stores worth checking out, from a vintage store specializing in retro video games to a consignment store where you can get designer clothes for low prices and support local charities. Have a favorite that we’ve failed to include? Add it in the Comment section below.
And given the current coronavirus pandemic, many stores have shortened hours or implemented COVID-19 safety policies when it comes to consignment appointments, so it may be best to call the store first if you have questions. Note that many stores are taking extra precautions when it comes to selling, such as asking customers to wash their items before dropping them off (which is always a good idea) and leaving them untouched for 24 hours.
Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries was founded in Boston’s South End in 1895. Today, stores supporting the nonprofit can be found throughout the world. The closest is in West Campus. Clothes are organized by type and color, and most have a set price: jeans for $7.49, graphic T-shirts for $1.99, and so on. There’s also a pricier boutique section of higher-end brands and noteworthy vintage items. An ongoing weekly tag sale offers special discounts, and college students get a 15 percent discount every Thursday. Note that the store is not currently accepting donations.
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm
Buffalo Exchange occupies that magical space between a thrift store and a consignment shop. Items—both men’s and women’s clothing with a youthful and hip bent—average $15. Low- and high-end brands can be found, ranging from H&M and Urban Outfitters to more expensive labels like Calvin Klein. Those selling clothes can get 30 percent in cash or 50 percent for trade on the spot with a valid government-issued ID. Sign up for the store’s newsletter to find out about special deals, like student discount day. And bring a reusable bag: Buffalo Exchange donates money to local charities in lieu of providing bags.
Hours: Monday to Sunday, 11 am to 7 pm
It’s impossible to miss Vivant Vintage. The exterior has two colorful murals, one that declares the store “home of the traveling spectacular.” If that’s not enough to draw you in, the eccentric atmosphere should be—it’s like walking into a collector’s attic, with items from vintage cameras and old typewriters to an elk head with a gas lantern dangling from its antler. It can be hard to tell what’s for sale and what’s part of the permanent decor, but owner Justin Pomerleau will happily clarify. The clothes vibe is rock ’n’ roll bohemian: lots of leather jackets ($70 to $150), vintage graphic T-shirts ($20 to $30), and button-downs with big ’70s collars. There’s plenty of outerwear, dresses, leather bags, boots, wingtips, sunglasses, jewelry, and ties ($15, two for $25). Vivant Vintage also offers a 15 percent discount for students and teachers every Wednesday.
Hours: Every day, 11 am to 6 pm
One of Boston’s most popular chain of thrift stores (there are three, but one is temporarily closed), Boomerangs is noted for lavishly decorated windows, especially at Halloween and other holidays. You can find plenty of cheap bargains on a variety of items. The stores offer clothing, kitchenware, art, furniture, books, jewelry, and more. Proceeds benefit the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts. Find a list of locations here. Keep up with special sales via Boomerangs’ Facebook page.
Jamaica Plain hours: Monday through Friday, 11 am to 6 pm
Central Square hours: Monday through Friday, 11 am to 6 pm, Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm
At Castanet you’ll find lots of designer brand duds for sale, all in excellent condition. Expect to shell out some serious money, though, because the labels include Chanel, Balenciaga, Isabel Marant, and more. Castanet squeezes a lot of merchandise into two small rooms and offers one of the best deals available to those consigning clothing: up to 50 percent of the selling price. Call to set up an appointment or email the store’s owner with a description of your items.
Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday, noon to 5 pm, Thursday through Saturday, 11 am to 6 pm, Sunday (October only), 1 to 5 pm
Founded in 1969, Great Eastern Trading Company was one of the first vintage stores in the Boston area. Today, it’s known for its unique clothing for all genders, binary and nonbinary. With vintage items from the 1920s through the 1980s, it’s also a good place to find a Halloween costume or outfit for a costume party. The store carries statement items: we recently spotted a glittery disco-era costume on the $5 rack, guaranteed to get you noticed.
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 1 to 6 pm, Friday and Saturday, noon to 6 pm
This vintage store is designed for students with an eye for hip streetwear and sports apparel. Thrive Exchange is a hub of ’80s- and ’90s-era clothing. Recently on sale: a Tommy Hilfiger vest for $60 and a Celtics starter jacket for $90. There are some cheaper items, as well, like graphic tees ranging from $20 to $30. You can trade, sell, consign, or donate clothing and accessories. Trading items is the best value: bring in $10 worth of clothing and you’ll get $20 in trade.
Hours: Monday to Saturday, noon to 8 pm, Sunday, noon to 5 pm
A quote by Carrie Bradshaw—Sarah Jessica Parker’s character from Sex and the City—greets visitors entering this South Boston vintage boutique: “I like my money where I can see it . . . hanging in my closet.” Covet is a consignment boutique offering both high-end and affordable apparel and accessories. There are some real gems to be found among the eclectic selection of tops, dresses, and pants. Recent fashionable finds include a tiered lace-up dress from Self-Portrait ($115.50), a blue puffer jacket from Zara ($28), and a Louis Vuitton bag for $710 (they normally retail for thousands of dollars). Check out Covet’s Instagram for daily updates on its inventory, but act fast—almost as soon as items are posted, the word “Sold!” appears next to them.
Southie hours: Monday to Friday, 11 am to 7 pm, Saturday, 11 am to 6 pm, Sunday, 11 am to 5 pm
Beacon Hill hours: Monday to Friday, 11 am to 7 pm, Saturday, 11 am to 6 pm
Sometimes vintage stores feel more like museums, with a look-but-don’t-touch ethos. But 40 South Street has a down-to-earth vibe, with a fun and weird—rather than prim-and-proper—selection. You’ll find vintage denim, pleated skirts, and leather vests adorning the chain-link fence entryway of the tiny shop. You’ll also find sparkly evening dresses, kitschy sweatshirts, and men’s and women’s pieces from the ’60s to the ’80s, ranging from the basics (a vintage Johnny D’s Uptown T-shirt for $50) to the statement-making (a vintage Chinese fitted silk jacket for $35). Owner and local rocker Hilken Mancini—cofounder of Girls Rock Campaign Boston and Punk Rock Aerobics—plays punk classics while you peruse the racks. Take a look at her Etsy store to get a taste of the selection here.
Hours: Thursday and Friday, 1 to 7 pm, Saturday, 11 am to 6 pm, Sunday, noon to 5 pm
Bring in some gently used clothing, or just stop by for this consignment shop’s many in-store sales. Raspberry Beret retails both new and consigned pieces of women’s fashion. Carrying mostly mid-range women’s apparel—many pieces are around $30—it has an eclectic assortment of higher-end designer items and more low-end trendy merchandise. Caution: plan to spend some time here. Most of the merchandise is on crowded, non-color-coordinated racks, meaning you may have to dig a bit harder to find what you’re looking for—but it’s worth it. There is also one small rack of men’s items. Your purchases might even help support a local charity: Raspberry Beret invites local nonprofits to open consignment accounts that any seller can opt to donate items to. In addition to the Cambridge storefront, there is another location in Maynard, Mass., and items are also available online.
Cambridge hours: Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday, noon to 6 pm, Friday and Saturday, noon to 7 pm
Boasting the biggest selection of vintage clothing in the Boston area, Kendall Square’s Garment District offers one-stop shopping for both vintage and contemporary secondhand clothes. Women’s blouses are $7 to $14; dresses start at $10. Men will find items from business suits and button-downs to T-shirts and jeans. The pieces range primarily from the ’50s to the ’90s. Check out the massive pile of clothing on the bottom floor, where you pay $2 per pound, or $1 on Fridays. The Garment District sells kids’ clothing, used designer duds, and brand-new clothing, as well. The building also houses Boston Costume, one of the area’s biggest costume rental locations, which is open daily with the same hours.
Hours: Every day, noon to 8 pm
High Energy Vintage in Union Square is a tucked-away gem with a serious retro-futuristic vibe and a ton of vintage treasures. Owner Andrew Wiley whistles along to ’80s electro-pop as customers look through the merchandise, which ranges from men’s and women’s vintage clothing and shoes (most appear to be from the ’70s and ’80s), vintage video games, cameras and other electronics, and vinyl records. Most of the records retail for $10, but there’s a $1 record bin out front. Don’t miss the $5 “trunk o’ treasure” right inside the door. Check out High Energy’s Facebook page for sales and new additions.
Hours: Thursday through Sunday, noon to 6 pm
Have a favorite secondhand or consignment shop that’s not on our list? Add it in the Comment section below.