Shop Bargain Manhattan Thrift Stores: An Airbnb Experience

My first day in New York since March 2020 was a success. I arrived at Moynihan Train Hall with two events lined up: an in-person Airbnb Experience in the morning and my university reunion in the evening. After getting acquainted with Amtrak’s new hub, I headed to Made Hotel where I met up with Sammy Davis, the host of “Shop Bargain Manhattan Thrift Stores.” Two other women from the West Coast rounded out our group of four.

We settled ourselves in low-profile seating around a large coffee table in the hotel’s lobby. As the conversation struck up, I realized that our time together would be special. Our combined personalities created a vibe that was energetic yet relaxed. We discussed our personal styles, shopping goals, and motives for joining the group.

The women in my company had a real zest for life, and we connected over our shared interest of shopping. The social aspect and exercise appealed to me the most. I closed the rings on my Apple watch effortlessly while trekking between shops. We visited a total of five secondhand stores. Of all the clothing I saw that day, two items stood out. The first: the Ingrid wrap dress by Mara Hoffman. Originally retailing at $398, I spotted it in black at Crossroads Trading for $65. I ultimately decided to pass on the item because the style was a little too long and the price a little too steep.

The second item, found at Housing Works, was a khaki-colored pleated skirt from Talbots. I left with this one. A year-round staple for sure! One lucky woman ended up with several bags of great finds, but I was more than content with one. (Quality over quantity.) And besides, I didn’t want to show up to my reunion with extra bags.

To find the best deals, it is wise to thrift early in the day and often. I’ve added the stores from the experience to the New York Guide, but thrifting alone doesn’t compare to bargain hunting with Sammy. She’s an expert and recently shared her tips for shopping secondhand on New York Live.

Works Sighted

Photos by Sammy Davis

Mara Hoffman dress // J.Crew mask

Sail to Sable dress // Talbots skirt // Superga 2790 Acotw

Packing for New York

An in-person Airbnb experience and my university reunion are bringing me back to New York for the first time since March 2020. I’ve signed up for Shop Bargain Manhattan Thrift Stores to keep me busy until I meet up with other Birkbeck alumni in the evening. Here’s an idealized version of what I’m packing in my tote for the busy day. If I find myself with unoccupied time, I plan to consult the New York Guide.

Works Sighted

L.L.Bean Boat and Tote // Muji pouch // Flint lint brush // Burt’s Bees lip balm // Burt’s Bees lip balm // Stojo bottle // lightening cable // Leatherology cord wrap // phone

Public Goods tissues // Native deoderant // Native toothpaste // Vaseline // Cetaphil lotion // Madewell pouch // Leatherology keychain // power adapter

The Leatherology Edit

My urgent need for a new keychain led me to Leatherology. I’d included some of the company’s products in past collages on the blog but only recently made my first purchase—the circle keychain. I decided to order it in electric blue with light gold hardware and a gold monogram. When it comes to style, no detail is too small to overlook.

As I perused other products on the site, it became clear that Leatherology’s design team prioritizes functionality. Founders Rae and David Liu “draw inspiration from [their] daily routines to design fresh and familiar pieces to enhance [the] everyday.” I can’t think of anywhere else to buy a sophisticated, travel-sized tissue holder. The website is incredibly user-friendly and allows customers to preview their monogram on item(s) of their choice prior to purchasing. Personalized purchases aren’t returnable, but the preview feature will allow you to add your initials to any product with confidence.

Works Sighted

cirlce keychain // lipstick case // small tech bag

small accessories pouch // passport holder // small crossbody

tissue holder // belt bag // cord wrap set

The World of Chronicle Books

It was my ongoing quest to read for pleasure that led me to the world of Chronicle Books. The publishing house has a wicked sense of wit, a quality evident in its unique titles. My first purchase: The Little Pleasures of Paris in 2018 as sustenance for my French soul. My second: Provence and the Cote d’Azur in 2020 for a friend on the brink of a solo trip to France. City Walks: London was a gift from former coworkers in 2013 to commemorate my move to London. These days, I’m savoring the remnants of summer with content that nourishes my artistic soul, and my recent visit to Chronicle Books’ online store presented new creative avenues. The company’s thought-provoking titles are ever-present in my perusal of museum shops, bookstores, and Amazon. They’re never out of sight, and consequently, never out of mind.

Works Sighted

Crêpes // Connect Every Day // Wine Tasting Notes

Wake Up Your Imagination // Hygge & West Home // 642 Things to Draw: London

France: Inspiration du jour // Forever Paris // Love Parisienne

Audible’s Premium Plus Membership

I recently reactivated my Audible membership after a very long hiatus. Even though I wasn’t a newcomer to the platform, I was able to take advantage of the 30-day free trial. I started with The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss and haven’t looked back. When my trial period came to an end at the beginning of July, I graduated to the most basic premium plus membership. Under this plan, I paid $14.95 for one audiobook credit per month. It became evident rather quickly that one wasn’t enough.

I’ve been listening to books on my walks, a pastime made even more appealing with my recently-purchased Apple watch. I decided to upgrade to the 24-credit premium plus membership, the highest tier. It’s $229.50 per year, which averages out to $9.56 per audiobook. Audible offers a selection of books in its plus catalog for free to members of every tier, but the books on my wish list don’t appear there. So far, I’ve read four more books after my initial one: The Magic of Thinking Big, Atomic Habits, Bella Figura, and How to Make $100,000 Per Year in Passive Income and Travel the World. Here are some audiobooks on my wish list.

Works Sighted

Flâneuse // L’art de la Simplicité // The Seine

Older, but Better, but Older // Mastering the Art of French Eating // Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life

Boss Up! // Home Sweet Maison // Lessons from Madame Chic

How I Thrift Without Buyer’s Remorse

A thrift shop is a treasure chest. You never know what you’re going to find, which is why it is best to visit frequently. I don’t go to secondhand shops as often as I would like. Thus, I have to remind myself to exercise a little restraint on trips like these. How do I shop intentionally in a store full of bargains?

First, I allow myself to pick up any and every item that speaks to me. If I bypass something that piques my interest, someone else might scoop it up (and we can’t have that). I see the other shoppers as my opponents, and from the moment I enter the store, I am competing with them for the best finds.

After hunting and gathering to my heart’s content, it’s time to edit. I’ve found it helpful to research products by brand name on my phone. On my last trip to Goodwill in May, I returned a set of teacups and saucers to the shelf when I discovered they contained lead.

After letting go of items that I don’t have any use for, it’s time to edit again. I hold each item and, à la Marie Kondo’s method, ask myself if it sparks joy. If I’m in possession of any excessive products at this point, I return them to their original places.

Finally, I evaluate how the item(s) I am left with will fit into my life. At the end of my last excursion to Goodwill, I walked away with a Sail to Sable dress for US$ 25. The original tag read $198, and even after paying $50 to get it tailored, I still consider the price a bargain. (The vertical, white inserts on the sides were added to allow for more hip room.) If I factor in cost per wear, the dress was practically free. I’ve been wearing it several times per week and intend to do so for the rest of the summer. It gets washed in a bucket and hung to dry between laundry loads.

Works Sighted

Sail to Sable dress (thrifted) // Superga 2750 Cotu Classic