A Newfound Appreciation for Thrift Shops
Growing up, I was not much of a thrift store person. We were a Kohl’s Cash, JCPenney’s clearance sales, and Old Navy Super Cash household with the mentality that we wore clothes until they wore out. Style wasn’t much of a priority. But as I got older and needed to both build up my personal fashion sense and pay for those clothes myself, I looked to thrift shops.
It’s very easy to become enthralled with glitzy Instagram accounts and unboxing videos from fashion influencers, but fast fashion is unsustainable both environmentally and ethically. So, I developed two criteria for seeking out these thrift shops:
- Finding local thrift shops that directly benefit the community
- Choosing thrift shops that catered to my budget
Just like anything else, where you buy things and where that money goes matters. To that end, here are 3 thrift shops located in CapNY that fit the bill.
My Top Pick
- Style Encore
(22 Clifton Park Rd. #78, Located in Clifton Park Center)
M-S 10:00AM-8:00pm, Sun 11:00AM-5:00PM
Style Encore is a locally owned and operated franchise that also encompasses other second hand shops in the area, including Plato’s Closet, catering more to brand name clothes for teens and young adults and Once Upon a Child, which carries kids clothing. Earlier when I said to choose thrift shops that fit your economic need, a place like Style Encore is what I mean.
With the boutique-ification of thrifting, some stratifications of access have emerged to appeal to different markets. When you begin to think about your fashion philosophy, be honest with yourself. Consider your impact. If you’re buying second hand and used clothes, not because you need to but because you want new looks and would like to cut costs and move away from fast fashion, Style Encore fits the bill.
What brought me to Style Encore was the fact my post-university job at a nonprofit paid about $36k after taxes. At about $20/hour and around $1100 biweekly, that first check pretty much got eaten up by rent, utilities, car insurance, and my health insurance premium. A good portion of the second check was taken up by consumables and fun stuff with the barest trickle going to savings. I lived in a relatively low-cost area and did not have student loan or major credit card debt.
I am listing the financial factors that were a part of my fashion philosophy, not saying this to tell you how you should budget your money. Everyone’s cost-benefit calculation is a personal judgment. Transparency in financial decisions can de-stigmatize the perception of wealth and can empower other people to make more informed purchasing decisions for themselves.
Style Encore fit my economic needs because:
- Most pieces I was attracted to were priced between $5.00-$25.00, around what I was willing to purchase for new, except with the added benefit of lowering my environmental impact.
- Some brands that would otherwise not be accessible to me new, I could find there used and in a perfectly serviceable condition.
- While the majority of my wardrobe is practical and utilitarian, I like owning a fresh statement piece each year for specific events, to be retired usually after being photographed wearing them a couple times.
Here’s what I left the shop with:
For a complete summer outfit that really popped, I found these shorts that actually fit my waist and butt at $8, plus a racerback style top in a beautifully vibrant, boho print that held at my neck with a mandarin-style collar for $12. It was floaty and light, perfect for a warm day throwing axes.
The real prize was a Calvin Klein bodycon black dress for $25. I absolutely slay in this outfit. I have now worn it to a big birthday bash and a Valentines dinner. It is the outfit I use to convince my often fawning audience that thrifting is both a desirable and more sustainable styling option.
Need some caffeine after slaking your thirst for the hunt?
Located in the same shopping center, Uncommon Grounds is a local institution with specially sourced and freshly roasted coffee, accompanied by the best bagels you will get north of NYC.
Other Socially-Conscious Thrifting Spots
2. For Pete Sake—A Thrifty Place
583 New Scotland Ave, Albany 12208
M 11:00AM-3:00PM, W-F 10:00AM-3:00PM, S 10:00AM-2:00PM
For Pete’s Sake is operated by St. Peter’s Hospital right across the street. It actually used to be in its basement like an underground Macy’s with everything from prom dresses to home goods.
Shortly after moving to Albany from California for grad school, I was looking for things to set up my new home. My roommate was from Georgia and didn’t even have a good coat for the impending wet and windy autumn. We washed up at Pete’s Sake like lost souls in need of supplies and boy did it deliver.
3. Second Chance Thrift Shop
1229 Central Ave., Albany 12005
T 10am-2pm, S 10am-2pm
This thrift shop is a fundraising venue for The American Italian Heritage. Museum & Cultural Center in Albany. They have a steep collection of clothing of all kinds – including a boutique room with higher end items. In the back room, they have endless jeans, all for $4 each. As one person who wrote a review said, “You have to see it to believe it.”
- READ more about how the fashion industry is moving towards more sustainable options
- LISTEN to a report on how the industry is evolving post pandemic.
- SHOW OFF your most treasured thrift shop finds and freshest looks with #CapNY.
- FIND MORE of writer Mia Nilo’s work at MiaGNilo.com.