Thrift Shop Review – Arthritis Foundation

10 Aug

Over the past six months, I have tried twice to visit the elusive Arthritis Foundation Thrift Shop located on Third Avenue and 81st Street.

I’ve found that their favorite trick is to close 15 minutes early, thus I never seem to make it in before they close at 6:00 (a.k.a. 5:45).  I decided to take the plunge and visit during a lunch break.

Arthritis Shop Racks

Before I go into a thrift store, I make a mental list of key items to search for. Today’s consisted of sweater guards, vintage fabric, beaded necklaces, notions, and cropped cardigans or “crop-able” cardigans using the elegant musings method.

The first positive sign was that the tiny shop was packed with people digging through the racks in the middle of August (a typically quiet time for NYC, especially on the Upper East Side). The first negative sign was a hefty price tag ($60) on a pair of well-worn (and semi-stinky) Cole Haans. Gross.  Overall, the store was clean and the merchandise was in great shape (besides a few pairs of  overpriced and scruffy shoes).

Piles of old shoes abound!

I had difficulty undertanding the pricing rationale (this is a typical thrift store problem, so no suprises there).  Here is a simple H&M dress priced at $15 dollars. I wouldn’t be surprised if the dress retailed for even less.

H&M Dress

Yet on the same rack, I saw a lovely Theory suit for $60.

Theory Suit

An example of the kind of fantastic gear they have is a vintage woman’s tuxedo jacket with tails for $95.  I’d never purchase this sort of impractical thing for myself, but isn’t it just a glamourous delight? Very Marlene Dietrich.

Tuxedo Jacket

At the end of the day, this shop seemed like more of a consignment boutique (in terms of pricing and quality of items) than a regular thrift shop.  That’s actually fine and dandy – its just something to be aware of before heading uptown to visit. You won’t find any any dollar scarves or five-dollar pins, and you really won’t find any vintage linens.  If you want a designer handbag for a fraction of the price, you won’t be sorry that you stopped by. So, I left the shop with nothing in hand and then noticed something glittering in the window outside. uh oh.  A necklace with three strings of glass beads. So pretty. I couldn’t tell what the price was, so I rushed back into the shop to ask.  $25?  A bit steep for a “thrift shop” but not bad for the necklace.  Heck, if this were a curated boutique thrift shop like Vintage in Gramercy, I’d spend $35 or more.

Glass Beads

So in the end I got a bargain.  Have you picked up any great bargains lately?  Please send any NYC thrift shop reviews my way!


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