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Hipster Alert: Charlotte's Tips on Thrifting

by Charlotte Rogg

{Editor's Note: Charlotte is one of our collegiate contributors—adventuresome, witty, intelligent and clearly chic. We asked her for her thrift store shopping tips so we can discover stylish vintage finds too. Thanks C! }

It's true, shopping is America’s favorite pastime - but if the ubiquitous chain stores have you feeling like you're just another face in a sea of sameness, there is an awesome alternative to consider.

Every time you donate your Gucci shoes or Ralph Lauren blazer, they end up in a little old place known as a thrift store. You may be surprised at how many new second hand locations have popped up all over Boston and the suburbs. Whether its Newbury Street or right down the street, each local gem hides some of the most cost effective and cute clothes around. So instead of avoiding the mall at all costs, pack up the kids and make a day out of living the life of a twenty-year-old hipster. It may be out of your comfort zone, but the best deals lie within these places. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

If you’ve ever driven on Chief Justice Highway, you have passed two of the best-kept secrets of Quincy. Although the traffic may scare you off, swing by the Goodwill store {625 Southern Artery} in order to get a massive variety of clothes in ever shape and color. The best items are the bags, which range from labels such as Dooney & Bourke to Gucci, at unbelievable prices. The selection may appear overwhelming at first, so leave yourself some time to browse each isle for the best items. The one downside of the stores is the smell, which may ingrain itself into the thicker items of clothing, leaving an unpleasant stench for many washes to come. Persevere. 

If all that power shopping left you hungry, swing by Punjab Café next door {653 Southern Artery}. This restaurant is one of the best Indian food places on the South Shore. The naan will blow you away and the Roghan Josh is out of this world. Either way, you can be assured that you will leave this trip with either a bag full of clothes or a full stomach.

Many look to Hull for its great beach, but the local shops are also looking for some action. Wellspring in Hull, {814 Nantasket Ave} is well hidden at the end of the main strip, but offers some good clothes and even better vibes. Many of the clothes are outdated and well used, but trust this second hand store to have some great pants and party dresses. The volunteers there also look out for great labels and fabrics so the new items always do well. However, the store only keeps current items in the stock, so don’t look for any winter gear at this time of year. The best part about the store is that proceeds aid the Wellspring program, which provides adult educational services to those in need. Their slogan ‘a help up, not a help out’ perfectly describes the friendly atmosphere. If you’ve grown tired of both the beach and the shops, stop by To Dine For {520 Nantasket Ave} for amazing Middle Eastern take out or the C-Note for some great music. Visiting this local spot will not only help your wallet but your community as well.

A trip to Boston usually consists of emptying one’s wallet in order to dine at less than superb restaurants and to shop at overpriced stores that offer very little variety. But the second hand stores sprinkled throughout the city are a cost effective alternative to the usual trip. Starting on Newbury Street, two Second Time Around stores {219 and 176 Newbury St} are the perfect places to look for barely used designer clothing .The stores are a bit cramped and sometimes get overcrowded on the weekends, but they are worth the stop in order to rest your credit card for a bit.

Travel over the bridge into Cambridge, and three thrifty shops will definitely delight you. Boomerang {563 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge} offers a great selection of off-season items, such as dirt-cheap cashmere sweaters in the middle of the summer. The store is new though, so it still has a relatively low stock compared to others. Oona’s Experienced Clothes {210 Massachusetts Ave} is barely visible, but it is awesome. As soon as you walk in, clever t-shirts greet you and 50’s housewife dresses call your name. The two best parts are the leather jackets and the jewelry, a bit of a splurge but visibly nicer than others you may find.

Finally, swing by the Garment District {200 Broadway, Cambridge}. This two-story warehouse offers a pile of used clothes on the bottom floor, waiting for you to go through, and racks of crazy costume clothes on the top floor, begging you to throw a party. This location will overwhelm even the most experienced shopper, so you must simply dive in and start digging to find the best looks.  If shopping is not enough, check out Stephanie’s on Newbury Street {190 Newbury} and All-Star Sandwiches in Cambridge (1245 Cambridge Ave} in order to fulfill your good food fix.

Closer to home, Twice as Nice in Pembroke, (46 Columbia Road} is an all-star for used clothing. If you cannot find something in this place, it doesn't exist. When you enter, rows of clothing sorted extremely well by size await, as well as designer bags, which hang from all crevices.  The jewelry will always be well stocked and ready to wear, so check out the selection located near the cash register. If you drag your teen or tween along, take him/her up to the third floor in order to get great designer deals for absolute steals. Once you have emptied your wallet in order to buy 10 pairs of juicy pants, visit British Beer Company{15 Columbia Rd.} to fill up on a hearty meal.

Clearly the public has been missing out on an awesome opportunity. These stores funnel well-needed cash back into the economy and you save mass amounts of money on clothes that aren’t always needed. So the next time you need to buy a cute top or some retro bottoms, check out a local thrift store to help yourself and the community.