Best Thrift Stores Around Boston
Boston, MA– It seems like every woman I know has watched at least one episode of "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo." In this Netflix show, Marie Kondo, the soft-spoken author of "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," gives advice to families who need help organizing their homes. During the inevitable closet clean-out, she asks her clients to pile all their clothes onto the bed and then hold each item to determine if it “sparks joy.” If it does, the item is carefully folded or placed back in the closet. If there’s no joy, the item goes into a “donation” pile.
So, now that everyone’s throwing out all their stuff, there’s a lot of great used clothing coming into thrift stores from people’s freshly cleaned-out closets. You can find yourself some barely-worn summer clothes for cheap at the following thrift stores in Boston.
Be sure to check store hours before you visit, as many of these independent businesses are not open every day, or they may close earlier than you'd expect.
Garment District - Cambridge (Kendall Square)
The Garment District is enormous. The downstairs area is dedicated to Halloween costumes and accessories, so I head straight upstairs where they have an excellent selection of both men and women’s gently used contemporary apparel, helpfully arranged by color. There’s a designer section of high-end items, along with racks dedicated to authentic vintage pieces arranged by decade. If you’re feeling adventurous, climb into “The Pile” of clothing sold by the pound. These are items that didn’t meet the standards for upstairs, though you can occasionally find some gems if you’re willing to sift through a lot of weird stuff.
We Thieves - Somerville (Bow Market)
Owner Sandra Rossi is responsible for We Thieves’ expertly curated women’s apparel, with an eye for “vintage fashion, global and artisanal finds, and emerging designers with a modern, bohemian, post-punk edge.” Founded in 2017 and originally located in SOWA, We Thieves moved into Bow Market when it opened last year, along with a variety of shops and restaurants worth checking out. For men’s vintage fashion just steps away, check out Blue Bandana Relics.
Buffalo Exchange - Somerville (Davis Square) and Allston
This consignment store first opened its doors in Arizona in 1974. Now with many locations around the country, it is a hot spot for both men’s and women’s vintage and contemporary clothing. Buffalo Exchange will pay you for your used clothes, too, in either cash or store credit, but they can be selective about what they’ll take, depending on inventory needs. On average clothes here are more expensive (two Yelp $$) than at the Garment District (one Yelp $).
Urban Renewals - Allston
An all-encompassing thrift store, Urban Renewals offers home decor, furniture, and books, in addition to men’s and women’s clothing. Similar to Goodwill. With rotating weekly discounts, everything is affordable, though it’s not carefully curated like the above recommendations so be prepared to sift through a lot to find your treasures.
Vivant Vintage - Allston
At Vivant Vintage, you’ll find all sorts of vintage treasures, with men’s, women’s, and unisex clothing sections, as well as decorative items for the home, vinyl records, and assorted oddities, many of which are made by local artists. Eclectic is the word. Vivant Vintage aims to “become a community connector for everything local and underground.” So perhaps it makes a little more sense that the shop offers a pop-up haircut station every third Thursday?
Goodwill - South Boston, Somerville (Davis Square), and Cambridge
Finally, it’s worth checking out the selection at the Goodwill in Southie for some high-end castoffs. The Cambridge, Somerville, and Allston/Brighton locations also have some good finds. Goodwill is a charity, so the price is right, but it is not a curated fashion experience, so plan to spend some time combing through to separate the wheat from the chaff.