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A Guide to Boston’s Secondhand Shops

Where to find used clothing and furniture

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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 80 pounds of clothing each year, adding more than 13 million tons to landfills.

Whether you’re hitting a thrift, consignment, resale, 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 it sells.

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 you pay. So, we’ve curated 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

Close to Campus

Goodwill
965 Commonwealth Ave., Boston; 617-254-0112
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.

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 $7.49, T-shirts $1.99, and so on. There’s also a pricier boutique section of higher end brands and noteworthy vintage items. Boutique steals spotted on a recent day: a dusty pink cashmere J Crew cardigan ($15) and a brand-new Tek Gear sweatshirt ($10). A weekly tag sale offers special discounts, and college students get a 25 percent discount every Thursday.

Store front of Buffalo Exchange

Buffalo Exchange offers trendy used clothes at affordable prices plus cash or credit on the spot when you sell your own clothing. Photo by Alexandra Wimley

Buffalo Exchange
180 Harvard Ave., Allston; 617-779-7901
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.

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. We recently spotted a tan suede sherpa coat ($50) and a vintage beaded tank top ($5), one of many items being offered at 50 percent off. Those selling clothes can get 30 percent in cash or 50 percent for trade on the spot. 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.

Urban Renewals
122 Brighton Ave., Allston; 617-783-8387
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Urban Renewals is massive: one room has women’s clothing and children’s toys, another has men’s clothing, and a third is filled with furniture. Housewares and bric-a-brac are spread throughout. There are no set prices for types of clothing, but most items are a bargain. Recently spotted: skirts, $4.99 to $5.99, tank tops, $1.99 to $3.99, dresses, $5.99 to $7.99. Among the notable finds were a black velvet dress ($5.99) and a carved wooden dresser ($29.99). Keep in mind that there are no dressing rooms, no refunds or exchanges, and it’s cash only. One more tip: the store is packed on Wednesday, when senior citizens get 50 percent off, so plan to visit another day to avoid crowds. Thursday is ideal, because students get 50 percent off on all red-, green-, yellow-, and blue-tagged clothes.

Vivant Vintage
318 Lincoln St., Allston; 857-228-8565
Hours: Monday to Friday, noon to 7 p.m., Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

It’s impossible to miss Vivant Vintage. The exterior has a colorful mural declaring it “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 Pomerau will happily clarify. The clothes vibe is rock ’n’ roll bohemian: lots of leather jackets ($70 to $150), vintage T-shirts ($20 to $30), and button-downs with big ’70s collars. We considered a Mickey Mouse baseball shirt a solid deal at $25, but a vintage shirt full of holes seemed overpriced at $20. But overall, the quality and variety is impressive. There’s plenty of outerwear, dresses, leather bags, boots, wingtips, and ties ($15, 2 for $25). Check in on Yelp and get 10 percent off your purchase.

Store front of Vivant Vintage

Shoppers at Allston’s Vivant Vintage will find an impressive selection of vintage rock ’n’ roll duds, including leather jackets, ’70s button downs, and kitschy T-shirts. Photo by Alexandra Wimley

Recollective Vintage
508 Park Drive, Boston; 617-863-7938
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday and Monday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

With eight different vendors under one roof, Recollective Vintage is a shopper’s dream. You’ll find everything from ’40s fashion to Texas gal vintage. Vendors include Swift & Faire Co, Eleven Twenty Eight, Gold Dust Vintage Shop, The House of Findings, Reference Vintage, Summer Mizera Vintage, Top Shelf Premium, and Winn Vintage. During a recent visit, we found an ’80s customized and bleached Levi’s jacket ($65), an embroidered corset top ($48), and an elephant-patterned vest ($18). Don’t have time to stop by the store, in the Audubon Circle neighborhood? Direct message Recollective Vintage on Instagram to snag your favorite piece of fashion before it’s gone.

Thrifty Threads
210 Harvard St., Brookline; 617-277-6860
Hours: Friday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, noon to 4 p.m.

As Brookline’s only thrift store, Thrifty Threads has been serving the Brookline community for the past 17 years, offering a diverse selection of men’s and women’s clothing. Located inside United Parish of Brookline and fully operated by volunteers, all proceeds go toward supporting the church and its outreach and social justice programs. With most items available for less than $10, you can find a sweater or pair of jeans for a steal. Remember: all sales are final.

Boston

Boomerangs Special Edition
1407 Washington St., Boston; 617-456-0996
Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, and weekends, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

One of Boston’s most popular chain of thrift stores (there are four), Boomerangs is noted for lavishly decorated windows, especially at Halloween and other holidays. Boomerangs Special Edition stands out from the others, with more upscale items in its inventory. With high-end brands such as Proenza Schouler, Issey Miyake, Chanel, and Gucci, much of the merchandise looks like it came from a Madison Avenue boutique and costs more than what’s found at other Boomerangs. There are plenty of cheap bargains, too, including men’s jeans for $10. Kitchenware, art, furniture, books, jewelry, and more are also carried. Proceeds benefit the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts. Find a list of locations here. Keep up with special sales via Boomerangs’ Facebook page.

Castanet
175 Newbury St., Boston, second floor; 617-536-1919
Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday, noon to 6 p.m., Thursday to Saturday, 11 p.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday “by chance”

At Castanet, you’ll find lots of designer pieces in excellent condition from brands like Dior, Dries van Noten, and Isabel Marant. Expect to shell out some serious money, though: recently, a Canada Goose parka was $295, and a pair of Rag & Bone ankle boots was $135. There is more affordable apparel as well: a cashmere sweater by Equipment was $59. Castanet squeezes a lot of merchandise into two small rooms and offers one of the best deals available to those consigning clothing: 50 percent of the selling price. Call to set up an appointment.

40 South Street
40 South St., Jamaica Plain; 617-522-5066
Hours: Thursday and Friday, 1 to 7 p.m., Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

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. On a recent visit, plaid dresses, pleated skirts, and fall vests adorned the chain link fence entryway of the postage-stamp-sized shop. You’ll find sparkly evening dresses, kitschy sweatshirts, men’s and women’s pieces from the ’60s to the ’80s, ranging from the basics (a cherry red puffy jacket, $35) to the statement-making (a velvet leopard print jumpsuit, $45). Owner, and local rocker, Hilken Mancini—cofounder of Girls Rock Camp 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.

A shopper browses jewelry in Covet consignment shop, West Broadway St, Boston

Covet, a consignment boutique in South Boston, offers the latest in high-end women’s fashion, from stylish tops and outerwear to chic jewelry and accessories. Photo by Cydney Scott

Covet
391 W. Broadway, South Boston; 617-268-1100
Hours: Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

As you enter this South Boston vintage boutique, a quote by Carrie Bradshaw—the character from Sex and the City played by Sarah Jessica Parker—greets visitors: “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 amongst the eclectic selection of tops, dresses, and pants. Recent fashionable finds include a black Elizabeth and James backpack ($101), sand-colored suede ankle booties ($95), and an ASOS black embroidered floral dress ($60). Check out Covet’s Instagram for daily updates on their inventory, but act fast—almost as soon as items appear, the word “Sold!” appears next to them.

SAULT New England
577 Tremont St, Boston; 857-239-9434
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The majority of thrift and consignment shops are dedicated to women’s fashion, so it’s refreshing to find a store that’s dedicated to men’s clothing. Founded by Philip Saul in 2011, SAULT New England specializes in the “traditional staples for every man’s wardrobe by mixing current trends and classic style,” according to its website. Men’s apparel and accessories, including hats, shoes, ties, belts, and wallets, are available for sale, as well as personal care products. Among the labels you’ll find for sale: Jack Spade, Patagonia, and Penfield.

Cambridge and Somerville

MIT Furniture Exchange
350 Brookline St., Building WW15-182, Cambridge; 617-253-4293
Hours: Tuesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., first Saturday of each month, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

A service project of the MIT’s Women’s League, the MIT Furniture Exchange (FX for short) has been selling used furniture and household goods at bargain prices to members of the BU, Harvard, MIT, and Suffolk University communities with a valid university ID since 1958. All proceeds benefit the MIT Women’s League Scholarship Fund, which provides annual financial support to MIT female undergrads. Recent finds included a golden wrought iron screen ($100) and an adorable table enhanced by FX staff with blue paint and a daisy stencil ($30). Check FX’s Facebook page to view pieces the team has rehabbed.

Raspberry Beret
1704 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; 617-354-3700
Hours: Sunday to Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Host a shopping party, 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 and more low-end, trendy merchandise. Some recent finds: a white Michael Kors puffy jacket ($60), a golden Tory Burch purse ($195), and a Vineyard Vines skirt ($26). 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. The store offers a 50/50 split for nonprofits. Customers who buy such a piece get 20 percent off their next purchase.

Oona’s Experienced Clothing
1210 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge; 617-491-2654
Hours: Daily, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Last month, this Harvard Square mainstay since 1972 reopened under new management. But don’t worry—the shop has stayed true to its original vision, offering a carefully curated mix of vintage and contemporary women’s clothing. With a spruced-up decor—including faux fur rugs and a carved wood velvet loveseat—it has an expanded selection of women’s vintage clothing from the 1960s to the 1990s. During a recent visit, we fell for a ’70s orange and yellow knit dress resembling a potholder (in the best way) ($76) and a rose print pencil skirt ($39) from the ’80s. While a little on the expensive side, Oona’s pieces are in great condition. The shop does buy vintage clothes, but buying has closed for the season. Check its website in the spring or sign up for the newsletter to receive updates on appointment openings.

Store front of Castanet

Castanet, on Newbury Street, carries designer apparel from brands like Dior and Isabel Marant at a bargain. Photo by Alexandra Wimley

The Garment District
200 Broadway, Cambridge; 617-876-5230
Regular Hours: Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Open until midnight all of October.

Offering 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 everything from business suits and button-downs to T-shirts and jeans. The pieces here range primarily from the ’60s to the ’90s. Check out the massive pile of clothing on the bottom floor, where you pay $2.00 per pound, $1.00 on Fridays. The Garment District also 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 until midnight during the month of October for everyone looking for a last-minute Halloween outfit. 

High Energy Vintage
438 Somerville Ave., Somerville; 617-764-0141
Hours: Wednesday to Saturday, noon to 8 p.m., Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.

Recently relocated from Teele Square to Union Square, High Energy Vintage 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. Among recent highlights: a Japanese release of Mario Party 2 and 3 for Nintendo 64 ($15 each), a corduroy auto club jacket with “Gene” embroidered on the front ($38), and a pair of black leather shorts ($32) the accompanying tag deemed the “cutest daisy dukes you ever did see.” 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 store additions.

10 Comments

10 Comments on A Guide to Boston’s Secondhand Shops

  • Denis on 12.02.2016 at 7:56 am

    Thanks for the article, which I have even bookmarked,as it’s very well written and informative. It also is timely, particularly for me who’s graduating next semester!
    Keep it up!

  • Rebecca on 12.02.2016 at 10:01 am

    I love vintage clothing but never found the time to explore the shops in Boston. This article is amazingly informative with the reviews and I’ll definitely check out some stores listed here

  • Laura on 12.02.2016 at 10:44 am

    Goodwill Industries exploits disabled employees, paying them way less than minimum wage! http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2013/07/30/does-goodwill-industries-exploit-disabled-workers/#15d471fc3d3b

    • Hal L on 10.12.2017 at 3:58 pm

      The truth is MUCH more nuanced (and positive) than you make it sound. Even the article you point to makes that point. Also, Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries is a local charity and an independent member of Goodwill International. What applies elsewhere may or may not apply here; only careful detailed research would prove either way.

  • Alexis on 06.27.2017 at 8:21 am

    There is also Covet in South Boston! https://www.yelp.com/biz/covet-boston

    • Daniel BRazeau on 10.17.2017 at 11:35 pm

      the president of Goodwill industries earn a million dollars a year. That is no charitable organization. I refused to shop there.

  • Stephanie H on 06.27.2017 at 9:13 am

    Not Boston but relatively close to campus (especially compared to Cambridge/Somerville), Thrifty Threads is Brookline’s only thrift shop. Located inside United Parish – Brookline at 210 Harvard St (about a block from Coolidge Corner), it’s open Fridays 1-4 and Saturdays 11-4 http://www.unitedparishbrookline.org/get-involved/outreach-social-justice/thrifty-threads

  • Laurie on 06.27.2017 at 9:34 am

    All Second Time Around stores have closed nationwide .

    • David Bergeron-Keefe, BU Today on 06.27.2017 at 9:44 am

      Thanks for your comment, Laurie. We have removed 2nd Time Around from the article.

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