As summer is winding down and more than 50,000 new college students come to Boston, many students are looking to spruce up their wardrobe for the fall. Thrifting, or shopping at second-hand stores, has increased in popularity over the past year. Thrifting is great for multiple reasons: it’s sustainable, it’s cheap, and you can find more unique pieces and styles in thrift stores compared to traditional clothing stores. These are some of the best thrift shops in Boston so you can maximize your thrifting experience.
- The Garment District — 8/10
The Garment District, located 10 minutes from the Kendall/MIT red line stop in Cambridge, is one of the most popular thrifting stores in the greater Boston area. They’re known for their huge collection with all different styles of clothing, including streetwear, vintage, artsy, bohemian, and more. The first floor of the store is actually a costume store called Boston Costume, where they have costumes of all sorts, from Santa Claus to Batman.
Additionally, their decades-themed clothing is one of the most abundant in the area. They have the hippie/retro style clothing of the 70s, the neon and cropped style of the 80s, the denim and low-waisted pants of the 90s, and more in their collection. They have a big room dedicated to 20th century style clothing, too, and shoppers will not be disappointed.
The best part about the store is that they have brought back the 2 dollars per pound sale. It was happening pre-COVID, but was on pause until recently. Thrift-seekers only pay 2 dollars per pound for clothing in this sale section. It’s open every day of the week and holds a wide variety of clothes. The only negative thing about the Garment District is that it’s on the expensive side of thrift stores for the clothes that aren’t included in the 2 dollars/pound sale. There are much cheaper options, but if you’re looking for specific styles and want to explore a variety of clothes, The Garment District is for you!
- Buffalo Exchange — 7.5/10
Buffalo Exchange, among one of the more popular stores, is also on the more expensive side of secondhand shops. It has locations all over the country, and there are two in Boston: one in Coolidge Corner in Brookline and another in Somerville. Buffalo Exchange encourages people to come and trade their clothes in exchange for financial compensation, so there is definitely a variety of styles available.
They have many big name brand items available in their stores, like Louis Vuitton purses, which is a reason why their prices are not as competitive as others. However, they make up for this with the styles they represent, including chic, retro, business casual, and streetwear. Their accessories are also great quality, with a wide range of rings, necklaces, bracelets, purses, scarves, hats, and more.
Be warned, though: Buffalo Exchange does not give out refunds. Once you buy something, the only way to return it is for store credit. My biggest tip is to try on what you want to buy in the store. It’s vital, especially if you’re looking at something on the more expensive side.
- Goodwill — 9/10
Ah, yes. Goodwill. It is, without a doubt, the most popular thrift store in the country, with thousands of locations all over the world. The store is known for its inexpensive prices and abundant stock of clothing due to the popularity of donating here. There are two Goodwills in the area, one in Cambridge and the other right on Boston University’s West Campus, near Raising Cane’s. Goodwill’s mission is to be sustainable and help those who can’t afford regular clothing stores.
The great part about this store is that they don’t only sell clothing; they stock household items, including dishes, cups, and regular furniture such as air conditioners and sofas. They even sell books and movies for great prices. The only annoying part about this store is that since they usually have so many items, it will take hours to go through everything. I suggest that you either set aside a few hours to patiently go through everything, or you look for specific items to save time.
- Boomerangs — 8.5/10
Boomerangs, located in Central Square in Cambridge, is a store that is more unknown to Boston University students. Like most thrift stores, they sell customer donations. However, the experience is a bit different from other shops because Boomerang’s is known for donating its proceeds to help people living with HIV/AIDS.
They sell items beyond clothing, including furniture, and they have unique styles available throughout the store. Their prices are very inexpensive and reasonable, and they even have online stores on Shopify, Etsy, and Poshmark, in case you aren’t in the mood to shop in store. For the best overall experience in terms of price and style, Boomerangs is the way to go.