When the fun of the holidays is over, the season of giving often lands many of us in the new year with a full closet and an empty wallet. Whether you are looking for discounts on the designer styles that didn’t come your way, planning to donate the gifts that you don’t have the heart (or time) to return, or just trying to update your style, resale stores are a budget-friendly and socially conscious solution to a cluttered closet and a lackluster wardrobe.
Stepping outside the traditional retail landscape can be daunting, so here are a few tips to navigate the city’s thrift and consignment shops — the last thing anyone needs this time of year is added stress.
THE GARMENT DISTRICT 200 Broadway, Cambridge. 617-876-5230; www.garmentdistrict.com
If you have an ugly Christmas sweater party to go to this season, or if you’re just into rocking sewn-on jingle bells and embroidered reindeer, the Garment District has a holiday sweater selection big enough to outfit Santa’s entire workshop from now until New Year’s. Year-round, it offers something for everyone — men’s, women’s, kid’s, designer, vintage, contemporary. On the first floor, you can dive into the sea of dollar-a-pound clothes. I don’t recommend it for the faint-hearted thrifter, but a thorough search can turn up the occasional treasure.
FOUND 255 Elm St., Somerville. 617-764-3131; www.foundsomerville.com
Davis Square’s hidden resale gem — it literally sparkles. As you enter the store, a modern, laser-cut glass chandelier hangs above the center racks full of the newest and most lust-worthy arrivals. Now in its second year of operation, Found is like the Saks Fifth Avenue of resale, offering carefully chosen contemporary designer fashions for both men and women sold at ⅓ of the retail price.
THE CLOSET 175 Newbury St. 617-536-1919; www.blog.closetboston.com
Aptly named, the cozy but organized space is filled with over 30 years worth of upscale vintage and contemporary consignment. The Closet is what you wish yours looked like, with floor-to-ceiling racks of formal and casual designer clothing, shoes, and accessories for men and women. Just be careful not to trip over a pair of retro Gucci loafers!
ARTIFAKTORI 121 Charles St.; 617-367-5854; artifaktori.blogspot.com
This Beacon Hill women’s vintage boutique spans sartorial trends as far back as the 1920s and everything in between. This season’s inventory doesn’t lack in furs and jewel tones, with bold, ’80s-style chevron sweaters and calf-length suede skirts from the ’70s. Prices are mostly affordable, but the hard-to-find retro relics tend to put a strain on your purse as well as your will-power.
40 SOUTH STREET 40 South St., Jamaica Plain. 617-522-5066; www.fortysouthst.com
As the summer faded to fall, vintage Pendleton wool skirts replaced skimpy ’70s terry-cloth rompers in this eclectic JP shop. 40 South Street specializes in quality, one-of-a-kind finds for men and women from the 1960s to the 1990s at affordable prices. When choosing her inventory from estate sales and vendors, owner Hilken Mancini draws inspiration from her days of performing on stage with a band, giving the store its youthful vitality and rock ’n’ roll aesthetic.
OONA’S EXPERIENCED CLOTHING 1210 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge. 617-491-2654; www.oonasboston.com
This Harvard Square vintage boutique offers quality wares for both men and women. What really makes this buying-selling-trading post stand out is the vast array of moderately priced shoes and accessories. It’s amazing how a pair of Oona’s retro riding boots and some boho-chic turquoise jewelry can make that god-awful turtleneck Grandma got you acceptable to be worn in public.
SECOND TIME AROUND various locations. www.secondtimearound.net
This consignment chain is a resale chameleon; the racks at each location reflect the aesthetic of the neighborhood and its clientele. Take, for example, the three locations on Newbury Street. Walking from the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, the first STA shop targets the shoppers that just bought records at Newbury Comics who aren’t necessarily looking to drop $40 on a shirt, offering current, trendy brands for a fraction of the price. Further down, next door to high-end boutiques, the two other locations, including the flagship store, are stocked with designer finds including Marc Jacobs and Chanel.
BUFFALO EXCHANGE various locations. www.buffaloexchange.com
At a Buffalo Exchange, you can walk in with a duffle bag full of your old clothes and leave with a new tote filled with totally different threads. With edgier selections for men and women and an average price point around $15 per item, this resale chain caters to the college crowd without sacrificing quality. Those secondhand Doc Martens you score will hardly have a crease in the leather.
GOODWILL various locations. www.goodwillmass.org
Goodwill has become the top shopping spot for frugal hipsters who are wearing Urban Outfitters’ newest trend six months before its mass production and buying it for 1/6 of the retail price. The “unfashion” ethos of the ’90s is back in style, which means scouring the racks of these ubiquitous thrift meccas is no longer passé. While embracing grunge style is encouraged, it’s still a good idea to wash your secondhand duds before you wear them.
BOOMERANGS716 Centre St., Jamaica Plain; 563 Massachusetts Ave. (Central Square), Cambridge; 1407 Washington St., Boston; 1870 Centre St., West Roxbury. www.aac.org
AIDS Action Committee’s family of thrift stores has four locations in and around the city, including a high-end special-edition store in the South End, that offer contemporary and vintage men’s and women’s clothing as well as used books, records, and home goods. All merchandise is donated to the stores and proceeds go to HIV prevention and wellness programs. The recently revamped and expanded stores are well organized and maintained to suit both new and experienced thrift shoppers.
URBAN RENEWALS 122 Brighton Ave., Allston. 617-783-8387; www.familythrift.com
Color-coded and unpretentious, with a cash-only price point of almost-free, this thrift spot in the heart of Allston Village has become a favorite of locals and broke college students. Here, it isn’t as much about the brand name (though often you’ll recognize a tag) as it is the experience. You are unlikely to come across a pair of Louboutin pumps, but you’ll probably find a three-legged rocking horse, an old transistor radio, and lots of tweed blazers and knit cardigans like your Grandpa used to wear (they might even kind of smell like him, too).
Steph Hiltz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.