Thrift Shopping Trail of New York | Gramercy, Chelsea


“New York is one of the four fashion capitals of the world. So if you have just a few hours in New York and your heart craves from some cool thrifted vintage stuff, you have got to Beacon’s Closet. And if your heart craves for some super bargain second hand and thrift stuff, you have got to go to Salvation Army. I don’t even remember the last time I went to a mall. What are your interests, what would you like to see? “ - Says Suzanne, the owner of ZTrend NYC.

For previous posts on USA, click here

Earlier I was a little skeptical of shopping in second handed shops because I always felt that I have to sift through them to find stuff of great quality plus I wouldn’t know which shops store good stuff, but with her I realized my mindset changed. Many of these shops are related to Charities and the clothes are really good. Yes, we have to still sift through the variety based on our tastes, but still very good.

The very moment that we met at the Think Coffee, 3rd Avenue, me and another tour recipient from Israel were taken care of by Suzanne and our tour was curated based on our interests. She felt to us like a friend, who is a local, who loves Style and no matter whether its rain and sunshine, she says “When you gotta shop, you gotta shop”.

Her own personal style reflects her passion towards Style. She was wearing beautiful pearl dangling earrings which she said she has made and she was so immaculately dressed from top to bottom. In fact, right from the start I was quite convinced that I was in the right hands.

Suzzane was very warm and helpful with many tips and tricks of Vintage treasures. She has got amazing insights and interests in Shopping as well as Style and she says “Fashion is not me, Style is. Style is your own attitude, while Fashion changes with trends” and I could relate to every word she said.

In fact, she personally takes interest in what could look good on you and comes up with her own suggestions , for example this was the top that I was confused about, it was $7, I took it from the rack and kept it back thinking that may be we’d explore some more shops and we’d get better bargains. And a while later, Suzzane picked up the top, and came to me and said “It isn’t fitting me, but It is silk and I guess it’ll look on you and will fit you” And we delved into a very friendly conversation thereafter, where I told her, you know this is the same top that I was confused about. She said with these shops there are no room for confusion and she was right. Right in front of my eyes, one of the dress that I was hunting for, went in someone’s else hand.

Things literally fly off these shops! So, if you like it you have got to get it.

She herself bought silver pants which had a "Made in America" tag! Those look cool, I said.

It is an ultimate NYC experience because we all are always going to Malls and going to the same few brands. Plus the added bonus is in these tours, she takes you to 4-5 shop of variety in each Gramercy and Chelsea - from outlets to designer thrifts, to even high end designer stuff thrifts. You can also find designer labels such as Chanel, Dior, Armani at rock bottom prices like $25 for something worth $200. I saw Gap shoes for $7, I got Aerosoles shoes for $7. She would tell you stories behind these stores and would give us about 20 minutes at each shop. In fact, as soon as the tour started, we were handled maps of all thrift shops and little eats in the area including 4-5 shops we were acquainted with on the tour. That gives us room to explore it at our own time afterwards if we wish to.

The beauty of this tour is if you are new to New York and want to do it differently and love shopping , you know you have got a friend.

I took the tour by FreeToursByFoot called Le Petite' NYC Second-Hand & Vintage Shopping Day for Gramercy and Chelsea, which I had initially taken for Gramercy, but after the Gramercy tour was over, Suzzane asked me so what next for you? I had no plans. She says “Why not join me for the Chelsea tour”. And I was like that sounds cool! Jumping from one tour to another, from 4-5 shops to another set of 4-5 shops. Each place/shop was at walking distance.

So as much as I am raving about it, if it wasn’t for her insight, I probably would have been lost in the sea of clothes or shoes or scarfs from all over the world, because when you get stuff for such fine quality, you go mad. And for a girl like me, who personally loves Style , all the more. I finally got 4 clothes and 2 footwear (we'll see them soon on my Style Blog) . After the tour she even guided us to places where we could eat and drink good coffee. When I asked her about favorite place for accessories she said “Eye Candy”. The point was “She knew”.

She knew that there are pink tag sales on Salvation Army on Wednesdays with 50% off on already clearance prices, and she knew Williamsburg , she knew the world event of City Opera Thrift Store, she knew one of the store she took us was about to close and they were selling on rack rates. I don't remember all the names of the shops because I was busy shopping as soon as I entered, but some of them were Reminiscence, Vintage Thrift, Salvation Army, City Opera and Beacon's Closet. 

Tips for those who take the tour:
*Get water because we are walking on the tour.
*Pre-wear something which can easily be layered up or removed.
*Many of the shops have trial rooms. But Salvation Army does not, but you can try on top of your tops as I did in front of the mirror or know your exact size and get it. I even saw a high end Calvin Klein Shirt for my hubby for $8, and Jackets for $6. So pretty reasonable.
*A lot of these shops have no exchange, refund policies.
*With the 20 minute time at each shop, its easy to sift through if you are pre-decided. For example Beacon's Closet has such a huge collection, that if you choose dress then look for dress section in 20 minutes.
*These are popular with students and are thrift items in real terms.

Thereafter, we discussed how Style has changed over years. How big brands like Lord and Taylor has impacted New York Fashion Week which earlier used to be a platform for budding creative small designers. Today it is a runway for posh markets or running hi-end designer brands. As we further delved into US politics and Valentino the cat at the shop who looks at every thrift shopper, it was time for us to exchange goodbyes.

A highly recommended tour to every Shopaholic , my hubby already misses not being part of the tour!

On one of the tour attendees had a vintage bag by her side, and I said to her "You came prepared dear" She said absolutely ! Everyone loves this bag.

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