Where can you find an a pair of vintage overalls, a historic map of Boston Common and a set of jadeite dishes all in one place?
Full of spectacular finds, secondhand shops and thrift stores have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. People of all ages are flocking to these shops to buy all kinds of vintage goods that are stylish and sustainable — to an extent.
In Greater Boston, thrifting isn’t limited to just clothing. The area is full of antique stores, too. Here are five places to start your hunt.
Cambridge Antique Market
This five-story antique mall in East Cambridge sells nostalgic items, antique furniture, vintage clothes, textiles, artwork, jewelry and more. What makes this market different from others is the sheer volume offered across 150 booths, all within a fairly wide range of prices.
Tip: They have limited hours (11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday) and the place can get busy. The mall’s parking lot is very small, so if you have to drive, get there early to find a spot. If you can take the T to Lechmere, it’s a three-minute walk from the station.
Boomerangs sells a mix of new, vintage and used clothes and accessories. And you can feel good about your purchases for reasons beyond re-using.
Established in the mid-90s, the first Boomerangs accepted donations of clothing from those who’d died from HIV/AIDS complications. Throughout the store’s history, revenue from sales went directly to AIDS research and community care. Now, through a partnership with the Fenway Health Clinic, 100% of proceeds goes to AIDS Action, New England’s largest HIV/AIDS health services provider.
While there are some furniture and art options, reviews suggest inventory turns over quickly and this is more of a place to go if you’re looking for clothing.
387 Highland Ave, Somerville
Nestled a few blocks away from the main intersection of Somerville’s Davis Square is Swank Seconds, a thrift and consignment store with a curated collection of fine leather goods, accessories and women’s clothing.
The store’s assortment of shoes deserves a special shout out. You’ll find row upon row of leather cowboy boots, designer heels and other vintage footwear. Some people are understandably wary of purchasing shoes secondhand. Apart from the fact they’ve touched someone else’s feet (which many find particularly objectionable), secondhand shoes don’t always fit well, depending on who’s worn them before you. If you happen upon a rare pair at Swank Seconds, but get grossed out by the idea of used shoes, take a look at these tips from Refinery29.
Dog lovers may also want to keep an eye out for the resident shop pet, a senior dog named Bella.
318 Lincoln St., Allston and online
Vivant Vintage made its debut on the streets of Boston. Owner Justin Pomerleau started off selling thrifted clothes out of a cart similar to the kind you’d see on the Boston Common peddling popcorn. Pomerleau’s small operation expanded over the years into a brick and mortar shop you can visit in Allston and an online store.
You’ll find a range of items here, from funky, patterned sweaters and coats to vintage lingerie, European workwear, and even jewelry and crystals. Prices range, though they can definitely skew high for designer items or those made from natural materials (but real leather isn’t usually cheap, anyway.)
The Garment District
200 Broadway, Cambridge
It’s not a district, it’s a store! This two-level store has been a staple for veteran thrifters and vintage shoppers in the Boston area for decades.
On the second floor is a selection of vintage clothing — racks of everything from Hawaiian shirts and blazers, to dresses and overalls — and dead stock accessories. If you visit the store from Sunday to Friday, you’ll only see Boston Costume (a party supply shop) on the first floor. But find yourself there on a Saturday and you might have a chance to go digging in the freshly replenished “By-The-Pound” section, which has clothes priced at $2 per pound (it's available to shop every day, but new clothes are added every Saturday).