Americans throws away more than 10 million pounds of clothing a year--much of which is still wearable. Meanwhile, college students across America are looking for ways to stay fashionable on a budget, and help the planet along the way. Lucky for Northeastern, there are a ton of shops in the Boston area that resell trendy, vintage or otherwise cute clothing. Whether you’re looking to update your wardrobe on the cheap or empty out your closet for some cash, Boston’s best thrift and consignment stores are perfect for the chic collegiette™ on a budget.
While there are six Goodwillretail stores in the Boston area, the most promising is the Davis Square location, found near the Davis Square stop on the Red Line. This store has more upscale clothing than you’d normally expect because of the fashionable 20 and 30-somethings who live nearby. You will have to hunt a bit more than at the other shops listed below, but it’s definitely cheaper, and a great place to find fantastic Halloween costumes or fabulous theme party outfits. Remember, while the other shops on this list consign (take your clothing/accessories in exchange for money,) giving clothing to Goodwill is a donation, due to the non-profit, philanthropic nature of the organization. How fantastic is that? Your donations and purchases will do some extra good in the Boston community!
Savings! Lucky for collegiettes™, there is a “Welcome Back Students” promotion for 25% off during the month of September.
Goodwill stores near campus include locations on 1010 Harrison Ave, 230 Elm St in Somerville, 520 Mass Ave in Cambridge, 470 West Broadway in Southie, 678 Centre St in Jamaica Plain, and 965 Comm Ave in Brighton.
A few doors down from the Davis Square Goodwill you can find one of the two Buffalo Exchange locations in the Greater Boston Area. (The other is in Allston, off the Comm Ave stop on the B line.) Buffalo Exchange is fabulous because they give you credit or cash on the spot for your gently used clothes, instead of consigning them which can take months and often has a return of only 40% of whatever value the store assigns to your clothing. Added bonus? If you take the store credit, you get a higher value. Also, they’re green and socially-minded via their Tokens for Bags initiative, customers who decline plastic bags are given tokens representing a 5 cent donation from Buffalo Exchange, which you can drop in the box for one of several local or national charities, from the World Wildlife Fund to Rosie’s Place, a Boston women’s shelter. They also collect used furs for the Coats for Cubs program by the Humane Society, which in turn provides bedding and comfort to injured or orphaned animals.
Poor Little Rich Girl
Located in Cambridge between Inman and Porter Squares, PLRG is one of my absolute favorite shops in Boston. Take the Red Line to Porter or hop on the 1 Bus for a quick ride up Mass Ave. With eccentric, retro decorations, accessories and shoes, this is more than just a clothing store. The people who work here are incredibly helpful, adding to the boutique feel of the place, found at 121 Hampshire Street. One of the best parts of Poor Little Rich Girl is that in addition to their vintage purchases, they also buy in bulk from places like Overstock.com. What does this mean for you? Some garments come in multiple sizes, a pretty rare find in the world of thrifting. PLRG does not consign damaged or off-trend clothes, so you can sift through the racks worry-free. If you’re looking to unload some clothing, give them a call to make an appointment!
Located at 1704 Mass Ave in Cambridge (Porter Square), RB is everything you could want in a funky little neighborhood thrift store. There’s also a Wakefield, Mass location if you ever find yourself out in the ‘burbs. Raspberry Beret also hosts shopping parties, which are a great way to get a discount on cute clothes while helping the environment and hanging out with the girls. The bigger the group, the better the discount, so round up the ladies on your floor go for a night of great, cheap vintage and trendy clothes. RB does not accept clothing with rips, stains or other damage, so you won’t have to worry about repairing your great finds. Consignment is by appointment only. Call 617-354-3700 to make one today!
Check them out on Facebook too!
Second Time Around
Second Time Around is undeniably the Queen of Newbury Street. Stocked with upscale finds, it’s worth hunting through all three of the Newbury Street locations, which are just a short walk from campus. I recommend heading back to the sale rooms, and keep in mind that the color-coded tags indicate how discounted the item is. After all, the clothing may be discounted, but this is still Newbury Street!
On Newbury: 176, 219 and 324
Other Boston area locations include 82 Charles St, 275 Harvard St in Brookline, 8 Elliot St in Cambridge and 300 Boylston in Chestnut Hill.
The Mad Closet
At 14 Cushing Street, Mad Closet adds to the thrift store cache that is Cambridge. Walk there from the Alewife stop on the Red Line, or take the 1 bus to the 73 bus. With Mad Closet you don’t need an appointment to consign, and they are much more flexible with the timeline, what they will consign, and their payment process than either STA or PLRG. For example, they offer 60% off the sale price instead of the standard 40%.
Find them on Facebook
Like the Goodwill stores, Boomerangs does more than stock your closet, keep your bank account happy and prevent more clothing from heading to the landfill. As the retail location of the Boston AIDS Action Committee (AAC), purchases at Boomerangs help raise money for AIDS prevention, research, and assisting those affected by AIDS. Everything you donate is 100% tax deductible, which means you have no excuse not to clean out your closet! Not only is the cause great, but Boomerangs is known by Boston fashionistas for having some of the best bang for your buck. Prices are definitely lower than STA and PLRG, but you won’t have to scrimp on quality. With a little digging, you’ll find lots of vinyl, books, and furniture that you’ll just love. Make sure when people complement you on your great finds you tell them you were shopping for a cause!
Boomerangs can be found at 716 Centre Street in Jamaica Plain, conveniently located a few blocks down the street from the JP Goodwill retail store. You can get there by hoping on the 39 bus, which runs the length of Huntington Ave and into JP. Other Boomerangs locations are 1870 Centre St. in West Roxbury, 563 Massachusetts Ave. in Central Square (a short walk from PLRG), and Boomerangs Special Edition in the South End (1407 Washington St.), a boutique version of the Boomy’s we all know and love.
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Photos courtesy of: ecosalon.com, aac.org, secondtimearound.net, themadcloset.com, raspberryberet.us, poorlittlerichgirl.com, buffaloexchange.com