I love scrounging. I love attics filled with old boxes full of surprises. I love discovering that my mom's high school uniform fits me. I love taking scraps from old curtains and making a tank top, or stenciling a design on a worn coffee table.
My most coveted possessions are a hodgepodge of hand-me-downs, materials from thrift stores, vintage shops, freecycles, swap meets and flea markets.
There is something about used goods that brings out the shopaholic in me. Somebody has tossed these things aside, and now I can adopt them and make them my own. A rediscovered secret.
I'm not the only one. In Brooklyn, generally amongst the 20-somethings, second-hand items have become trendy, especially in the small vintage shops that litter Fort Greene and Williamsburg.
Some of these shops will take an old pair of heels from the fifties and sell them for twice their original value. I admit that dirt-cheap prices are the main reason I shop for recycled goods, but these places do have a magic of their own.
They are giving value back to the things that have aged gracefully, instead of the brand-new, often more cheaply made item tucked inside of a cardboard box or choking in plastic wrapping. (Did I mention that buying second-hand has an extremely positive impact on the environment)?
Although I love them both, there is a marked distinction between a vintage shop and a thrift store.
Vintage stores relish the finest elements of antique and couture. Often times, they will restore an old treasure, like painting a piece of period furniture or sewing a new sole to a pair of old-school designer shoes. Regardless, some of the most beautiful pieces of clothing, furniture, dishware, you name it, can be found at vintage shops. Vintage store items can get pricey. But people don't make things the way they used to, and these items are made to last. How else would it be possible to purchase something made in the sixties?
Thrift stores, on the other hand, carry donations, and the date on the product becomes less significant. It is here where your own eye for stuff must guide you, but when you find something good it's ten times more rewarding and a tenth of the price. There is nothing that I enjoy more than walking into an unorganized thrift store with piles of things hidden under more piles of things, uncovering some of the most timeless (and often hideous) objects. You can spend hours in a thrift store and walk away with nothing or with a garbage bag full of stuff.
Join me as I explore the world of all things second-hand, from vintage shops, thrift stores, consignment stores, flea markets, swap meets, old record stores, used bookstores, stoop sales, any place that sells used products.
I am hunting down the best places to find second-hand stuff in and around Bed-Stuy. I’ll be bringing my findings back to you, so stay tuned.