Building on the tradition of recycling and re-purposing old clothing, thrift stores offer an opportunity to find vintage clothing items for little more than a few dollars. While it can take some time to find your style, thrifting is an awesome way to find unique vintage items for a tiny fraction of what you’d spend at a retail store and save the planet while you’re at it. If you’re unsure of where to go, or just want to see our thoughts, here are our rankings of three thrift stores in Allston. Our three main criteria were shopping experience, quality of purchases and price.
While Buffalo Exchange offered amenities some of the others didn’t, such as dressing rooms and a credit card payment option, it wasn’t enough to overcome the downsides the store had in comparison to the others.
For starters, the store itself is small: a lot of clothing is crammed into not a huge amount of space, and it’s often quite busy. The line for the register usually isn’t bad, but the one for the dressing rooms can be. Furthermore, prices at Buffalo Exchange are more in line with those of retail stores, although retail products from name brands can be found here for substantially lower costs.
Buffalo Exchange is undoubtedly easier to navigate than Urban Renewals, and there are significantly less undesirable items to sort through before finding the gems, which this store does certainly offer, even if they can cost up to three times as much as other thrift stores like Urban Renewals. A particular upside about Buffalo Exchange is that they do have quite a good shoe collection, so take a look here if you’re looking for some footwear.
Another thing to remember about Buffalo Exchange from the supply side is that they are quite picky about which clothing they’ll resell. This means that they won’t take everything from your grandma’s closet, and you’ll have less to sort through when shopping.
All in all, if you’re new to thrifting, Buffalo Exchange is a really good place to get started with its navigable store environment and much more curated clothing collection. However, once you’re more familiar with the activity, you’ll find a more rewarding experience at Urban Renewals, or even Goodwill.
Overall, Goodwill was pretty average. There wasn’t anything that particularly stood out about the store but also no major complaints. In all the categories it came somewhere between Buffalo Exchange and Urban Renewals. For example, it was definitely cheaper than the former, but also easier to navigate and cleaner than the latter.
The store itself was in very good condition, with windows, lots of light,and posters all over the walls. While this might not be the first thing you look for, it definitely made the afternoon very enjoyable. It had
a great atmosphere, and was pretty convenient, so it was up there with Buffalo Exchange for user friendliness, and Goodwill had a better CD and DVD collection than any of the other stores.
Nothing to complain about with the price. Again, somewhere in between Urban Renewals and Buffalo Exchange, Goodwill offered pretty reasonable thrifting prices. We bought an L.L. Bean fleece quarter zip for $7 and a Polaroid t-shirt for $4.
The main downside to Goodwill was that really good finds tend to be scarce. There weren’t any bad selections per se, but nothing seemed different than your average retail store. The clothes were in good condition, but they were pretty much just Aeropostale and Forever 21 shirts for cheaper prices. However, the one thing we did love at Goodwill were their funky and cool sweaters.
Overall, Goodwill was a pretty “eh” store. No complaints, but nothing to write home about.
Best of the Allston thrift stores was Urban Renewals. It’s a huge store, selling everything from clothing and shoes, to furniture, dish ware, books and, most importantly, toys.
Urban Renewals was definitely the cheapest. No clothing item in the store–including the winter jackets–cost over $20, with the average cost per item between $2 and $6. Their frequent sales further cement its status as easily the most affordable store. That being said, if you are looking for higher quality clothing or name brands, Urban Renewals probably isn’t the place to go.
Unfortunately, in terms of consumer friendliness, Urban Renewals can take some getting used to. They only accept cash, offer no dressing rooms (although they do have mirrors around the store to try things on over your clothes, which we highly recommend), and the store itself can be a little difficult to navigate. While you definitely have to set aside more time for this store, we can certainly say that it was an adventure. If you are looking for a classic, fun, adventure-time-with-friends thrift journey, Urban Renewals is your store.
If you come here, you’ll definitely find some great, cheap statement pieces. It might take you an hour, but you’ll leave the store feeling accomplished, and having found a vintage dad shirt for $1 or an embroidered jean jacket for $4. Toys are another great find at Urban Renewals. When we went, we found everything from a tricycle to a trampoline. Neither Goodwill nor Buffalo Exchange carried toys, and, to be honest, the toys are the best part of any shopping experience.
If you’re looking for name-brand clothes and a retail-like buying experience, check out Buffalo Exchange instead, but overall, Urban Renewals has the best classic thrift shopping experience, with everything from great finds to great prices.
Still not sure which one to go to? Why not them all! We chose three stores located within a 15-minute walk of each other, so take a friend, feel good about your environmental impact, and make it an afternoon!