TRAVEL | New York Thrifting - 5 Consignment Stores to Visit in the East Village12.12.12
I was having lunch with my friend Bre in Soho, NY, catching up on each others' lives as we munched away on Mexican food a la Papatzul (delish). We came back to our love of fashion and how our shopping habits have changed since we last saw each other. For me, it was buying less, and more responsibly, whereas for Bre, it was shopping in Consignment stores. I had heard of Consignment stores, but had never ventured into one. I hate shopping, well shopping in large stores where comparisons between them and a jungle filled with warring animals always comes to mind, so I avoid large shops, and stick to quaint boutiques (or online shopping). However, Bre was adamant about me visiting one, especially for the Blog. She listed a view, and later on texted the names of some of the must visits. The majority were in East Village, so I took a wonder and was quite impressed. Jimmy Choos and Louboutins from $100, I spotted an amazing Trina Turk Mohair Coat for $185, and not to mention a pair of Chanel flats (not in my size) for $255. Whatever your style, the following Consignment Stores definitely cater for it. Consignment stores, are not like Charity Shops, as you the merchandise are usually bought off of customers, or have been traded in for something else. Hence, what follows is my review of my experiences in five (5) consignment stores I visited.
1. BUFFALO EXCHANGE | 332 E. 11th St. (Between 1st & 2nd Ave)
I walked into the store, and immediately one of the friendly male shop attendants commented on my vintage bag from Scarlet Vintage in Crouch End. Good start! Their merchandise are not as high-end as the other consignment stores, but they are of good quality, and you WILL find some real gems in there. For example, I saw a pair of Jimmy Choos and a few pairs of Louboutins. As I mentioned earlier, I hate crowded stores, and Buffalo Exchange was CROWDED, but very much to their credit. They are seen as the mecca of consignment stores, and it was obvious the customers shared this very sentiment, as it was the most crowded of all the consignment stores I visited. This might also be down to their prices. Although, I had to tear my way through the racks of clothes and the large number of people, there were mounds of great finds that would make any shopper giddy with glee. However, the queue was too long so I exited. One thing I noticed was the holding bay, where customers could put items on hold, which I thought was great.
Buffalo Exchange is a community-based store, with 80% of their merchandise bought from and sold to locals. Clothing and accessories are bought, sold and traded locally with store customers who trade or cash on the spot! And not to worry, for those of you in other parts of America, there might be a Buffalo Exchange closer than you thing. With several locations scattered throughout the country, this shopping experience can be enjoyed by many. I'll be taking a trip to their DC location this week.
2.TOKYO JOE INC | 334 East 11th Street (Between 1st & 2nd Ave)
Just next door to Buffalo Exchange is Tokyo Joe, almost 1/10 of the size of the former, this little store houses some real treasures. The first item I spotted was a Trina Turk Mohair Coat that I fell in love with. Unlike its larger neighbour it does not allow for one to put items on hold, which was slightly annoying, as I had so many places to visit, and not enough energy to lug clothing all over NYC for the rest of the day (Not to mention HSBC but a hold on my card as they DIDN'T update my travel status as being in the US, so I had to spend wisely until I could reactivate my card). Although, I didn't get the warmest of greetings entering the shop, with one of the shop attendants enjoying her noodled soup without making an attempt to greet me, I was somewhat glad to be slightly ignored. I feared that because I was one of three people in the store that I might be barraged by uber excited, customer-friendly staff. I wasn't, so I was able to walk in peace, and enjoy the lovely little treasures.
3. LADIES&GENTLEMEN NYC | 338 East 11th Street (Between 1st & 2nd Ave)
On my way to my next Consignment store, I stumbled across this quiet, well put together shop owned by a lovely Japanese couple. Now, I rarely make definite statements like this (and when I say rarely, I mean I ALWAYS do), but this was my favourite shop. I am still not sure whether this is a consignment store, or whether it was just a vintage shop, but I must put it onto my list. With interesting vintage objet d'art, Coca Cola crates filled with scarves and records, and YSL, Ferragamos, and oooooo that $148 Carven peach skirt (that I'm still dreaming of) painted the shop a beautiful colour of BUY BUY BUY. It reminded me of a place that perhaps Steve McQueen might have come for his kicks, or where Kanye West might come for a special piece for a "low-key" event.
4. ELEVEN CONSIGNMENT BOUTIQUE | 180 1st Avenue
I just have a few words: Dries Van Noten, YSL, Trina Turk, Missoni, Bottega Veneta, Chanel...you get the point. The store was slightly jam-packed, and I kept knocking things over with my purse, but it wasn't hard to find the amazing stuff--they were everywhere (and yes it made it easier that my bag kept knocking them down). All the items were of good quality, and extremely High-End, without the High-End price. Also, one did not have to go digging to find a gem, as they were right there, on display for all the see and relish in. The store was not crowded and quite somewhat manageable, but I would love to recommend to the store owners to perhaps rearrange the racks, and the tables, and the shelves, and the stands so that their customers could move around with more ease. The staff were lovely enough, I guess, unfortunately I didn't see them until I made my way to the counter to leave. If you do consign something, make sure when you go to pick up your cheque that you bring your invoice with you, apparently quite a few people have been caught out on that one.
5. TOKIO 7 | 83 East 71st Street (Between 1st & 2nd Ave)
Tokio 7 is another Japanese run Consignment store established in 1995. I was confronted by a massive sculpture made from motor parts that had me captivated before entering the shop. This is one of the largest consignment stores in NYC, and carries an equally large inventory of high-end designer goods. It was easy to manoeuvre, regardless of the amount of merchandise in stock. The displays were The collection of clothes and shoes range from second-hand to vintage. Their merchandise change daily, so customers are always expected to be tantalised by new inventory, for anyone's taste.