nyc flea markets

Are you living on a student’s budget but have a fashionista’s taste for looking good? Do you prefer vintage looks to mainstream fashion? Are you wondering where the best second-hand fashion can be found in Manhattan? If so, you’ve come to the right place. New York City may seem expensive and some of the price tags at high-end boutiques may be more than your monthly apartment rent, but don’t let that stop you from finding the clothes you like at prices you can afford.  Flea markets and thrift stores are going to be your new best friend!

What are thrift stores and flea markets?

Thrift stores are shops that specialize in used merchandise. They range from Goodwill stores operated by non-profit organizations that accept donations from anyone to specialized vintage stores that offer gently used brand clothing for people whose budgets may not be able to afford department store prices.

At flea markets, vendors bring their things (used clothing among them) and lay them out for shoppers to look through. They may be either open-air markets or have stalls that are rented out to the vendors. Everything is for sale and all prices are negotiable at flea markets.

Thrift Stores: NYC cheap finds for students

Here are NYEA’s 3 picks for best thrift stores in New York that offer fashionable goods at low prices.

thrift stores nyc

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Cure Thrift Store

This store is run by a non-profit that benefits juvenile diabetes research. Not only that, its owners are personally committed to making the selection of items spectacular. Given that they are obsessive “thrifters” themselves, you know the stuff you’ll find here is second to none. And, it’s one of the better reviewed thrift stores in New York.  So head over to the East Village where you can find them at 111 East 12th Street.

Beacon’s Closet

Run by a zealous group of fashionistas, Beacon’s Closet on West 13th Street is a great place to find emerging fashion and the latest designers along with the best in vintage clothing at reasonable prices. Even better, the shop feels like a high-fashion Manhattan boutique.

Vintage Thrift

Like the name suggests, this shop focuses on vintage items. You’re as likely to find a dentist’s chair from the 1940s as a 1980s boom box in their eclectic mix of goods. So, if you like your clothes to be old but good, this is the place to go. Also, the profits benefit the United Jewish Council of the East Side so you’re shopping for a good cause.

NYC Flea Markets

If you’re looking for some recommendations for flea markets, look below.

Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market (HKFM): Perhaps the most famous flea market in all of New York, HKFM has been named one of the top 10 shopping streets in the world by National Geographic. Not to mention, Andy Warhol supposedly shopped here back in the day. It’s open every Saturday and Sunday (weather permitting) between 9th and 10th Avenue on West 39th Street from 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

GreenFlea Market: Claiming to be Manhattan’s best indoor-outdoor flea market, GreenFlea is open every Sunday rain or shine between West 76th and 77th Street on the Upper West Side. Part of the profits go to four local public schools, so remember that when you’re haggling over the cost of that gorgeous sweater your purchase is helping educate the kids of New York.

Young Designers Market: Located on Bleecker Street near the rock club Bitter End, where legends like Bob Dylan played, the Young Designers Market is not really a second-hand items flea market but a place for handmade goods. About 60 vendors set up here in the afternoon each Wednesday through Sunday. If you like your fashion unique, you can’t do better than this.


What is haggling?

Haggling is getting the seller to lower the price of an item through negotiation. While you can’t learn to haggle like a professional negotiator by reading a blog—it takes practice and experience—we can give you some tips to make your first flea market expedition a little easier (and hopefully lighter on your wallet).

• Prices don’t really exist at flea markets. Regardless of what the price tags say, everything is negotiable at a flea market.

• Know the maximum price you can spend. Decide what you’re willing to pay before you start talking or you might find yourself paying more than you wanted.

• Don’t start what you can’t finish. If you aren’t really interested in an item, don’t bother haggling. Most vendors can see this a mile a while.

• Be patient and polite. It pays to be nice and not in a rush. No one likes to deal with a jerk so don’t get angry or frustrated if you don’t get the item you think you have to have at a price you’re willing to pay. There’s always more shopping to do.

After checking out these great finds around Manhattan take a look at our article “Shopping in New York” for more great tips on finding deals both in the store and online.