96th Street Thrift Store Mecca

June 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

I recently got a postcard in the mail about re-fashioNYC.  Housing Works is partnering with NYC to place donation bins in apartment buildings and other public and private locations.

It seems as if Housing Works is growing like gangbusters these days, which I hope is a sign that recycled and re-purposed — and sometimes vintage — clothing is a trend that is here to stay.  They just opened up a new Housing Works in my neighborhood, and I feel as if 96th St. has become a veritable thrift-store Mecca.  The new Housing Works on Broadway between 96th and 97th is still putting the finishing touches on the facade, but the store is fully operational.  I’ve popped in a couple times.  HW has some finds sometimes, but many of the locations focus mostly on furniture.  I volunteered for them for a few months last fall, but I had to give it up because I was trying to launch Vintrowear.  The 17th St. store has a huge selection of clothes, and occasionally I came across some cool vintage and/or designer finds.  Case in point this Valentino poncho.

The Salvation Army on 96th Street between Broadway and West End recently remodeled, which has transformed them from a decrepit tenement house to a modern, clean facility.  I rarely find anything vintage here, but occasionally I come across something that might help with my Halloween costume.  And I basically live in a pair of Esprit khakis I got here a couple years ago.

The thrift store at the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus on 96th between Broadway and Amsterdam is the 3rd in the, shall we say, Holy Trinity of 96th Street thrift stores.  Say what you will about the Catholics, this is one good thrift store.  It’s the size of half a city block in the basement of the church, and every single time I go in there I find at least 1 thing vintage.  For some reason I avoided the place for most of the 15 years I’ve lived in the neighborhood.  I think it’s because as an Episcopalian I’ve been conditioned to avoid Papists.  But when I finally went in about a year ago, right off the bat when I walk in the door, I discover a vintage little black velvet jacket.  The only thing I don’t like about it is it has three-quarter length sleeves, but it’s come in handy plenty of times as a cover over a cocktail dress.

A few weeks ago when I went in, I came across this:

It’s a somewhat bizarre beaded acrylic cardigan.  Not sure what era because the tag is gone, but I’m fairly sure it’s not modern because it’s got a lining sewed in.  It sort of looks like the lining is hand-sewn, but it’s hard to say.

Plus, the yarn has that scratchy, been-around-for-a-long-time-but-refuses-to-degrade-because-it’s-a-petroleum-product feel.  Which for vintage clothes is a good thing, because the color stays forever bright and moths won’t eat it.  It does have a few small holes, because the weight of the beads has pulled it down slightly:

The beadwork is massive.  It’s on the front and back, and then sprinkled throughout.

I tried it on but unfortunately it’s too big.  So much for it being my go-to Christmas sweater.  If it had fit, I think the look would have been suitably retro-hipster.  But since it was slightly too large for me, instead of goth-girl it had more of a grandma-girl effect.  Once I add women’s clothing to Vintrowear, I think this will go into the inventory.  I think it’s about a size 10, so all you size 10 goth-girls get ready.

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