Purchasing gently-worn clothing rather than new garments is a great way to lower carbon emissions, decrease unethical labor practices abroad and, of course, save money. Boston is host to hundreds of thrift shops, vintage boutiques and flea markets, but consignment shops are the best option for people that are used to shopping at traditional clothing stores. They are often highly curated without being overpriced and also offer a way of getting rid of old, but nice, clothing without contributing to the waste stream. Below are five places to start the journey for a perfect ethical, stylish and affordable wardrobe.
Second Time Around
176 Newbury St.
Boston, MA 02116
Second Time Around is a network of consignment shops that specialize in “upscale resale” — typically in women’s ware. Boston ladies are particularly fond of Second Time Around, or STA for short, because they have multiple locations in some of the Boston area’s most popular shopping spots. In fact, there are three STA locations on Newbury Street alone! This makes consigning old clothes or purchasing vintage goodies super convenient. Plus, each store has its own Instagram account, so you can see what awesome new products come in and can race to the store to grab them before anyone else.
255 Elm St.
Somerville, MA 02144
This quirky shop is located right next door to The Foundry Restaurant and provides the perfect post-lunch activity. Shopping through Found is fun and delightful, especially with the help of store founder Meredith Bennett. Found also offers great percentages for those looking to consign some old clothing. With a 60/40 split, the original owner of the piece walks away with 40 percent of what the customer pays for the garment at Found. So clean out your closet, you could make some decent money!
The Garment District
Cambridge, MA 02139
The Garment District is an incredible, huge thrift and consignment facility in Cambridge. In fact, at any given time, the store offers more than 40,000 pieces. Most Bostonians know it as the go-to place to get gear for crafting the perfect Halloween costume, but it also has everyday clothes and home wares year round. One of the most fun features of The Garment District is that it offers shopping by the pound. Customers can simply grab a bag and pick out whatever they’d like without worrying about the price tag of each individual piece of clothing. Since the 1980s, the Garment District has grown to become one of the biggest thrift and consignment markets in the world. According to its website, the shop moves “several million pounds of clothing each year.”
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460 Harrison Ave.
Boston, MA 02118
In the spring, summer and fall, there is no better place to buy or sell used and vintage goods than SOWA open market. This traditional, open-air market started about 10 years ago in Boston’s South End and has become a favorite Sunday activity. Fashionistas and artists can create an ensemble made from multiple pieces throughout the warehouse section of SOWA. Or, register to become a vendor
yourself. SOWA is not a traditional consignment experience, rather it is a cross between a flea market and high-end art space, which makes for an interesting mix of goods.
62 Salem St.
Boston, MA 02113
Ensemble is perfect for shoppers that are looking for more than just clothes. In addition to a small clothing section, Ensemble offers consigned goods like home decor, jewelry and even furniture. The owner, Wendy Lepore, completes the store’s selection of offerings with some new products too. That way, customers can satisfy a craving for vintage and also pick up a brand new nail polish or the latest trends in jewelry without leaving the store. The store is open every day except Wednesdays and validates parking, so you can shop in the North End without breaking the bank on a parking garage.
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Cameron Bruns is the founder of BostonGreenBlog.com and co-author of Just Us Gals Boston. She lives in Boston’s North End, where her goal is to promote ethical, stylish, and sustainable lifestyle choices to all Boston residents. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.