Brooklyn thrifting
June 10, 2013 9:31 AM   Subscribe

Best thrift stores for furniture in Brooklyn?

Before I moved to New York where Ikea serves many of my cheap-furniture needs, I furnished my respective homes by thrifting in the wilds of North Carolina. Over the years I found some pretty great stuff in thrift and junk shops but I have succumb to the ease and dullness of Ikea. I want to change that! But I'm still a poor-ish person! In Brooklyn!

***I'm not going to be buying used upholstered stuff, as I have all the upholstered stuff I need and I'm trying to avoid bedbugs*** I'm mostly in the market for some side tables and hard chairs and decorative stuff. I live near the Salvation Army in Clinton Hill and swing through there occasionally, but I want to find other places in Brooklyn to buy cheap used furniture. And when I say cheap, I mean cheap. "Thrift store" in New York sometimes means store of trendy overpriced vintage goods that were hand-picked from other resale shops and marked up. That is the opposite of what I want. Even Housing Works seems to sell things at a steeper price than I'm looking for.

I don't have the tools or skillset (or desire) necessary to fix things up on my own, so I don't want to go to the store equivalent of a dumpster dive, just a normal thrift store that has a reasonably sized furniture and home goods department. I don't mind doing some deal-hunting. What shops in Brooklyn should I check out?

posted by greta simone to Shopping (16 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Have you checked out the other Salvation Army on Atlantic and the Goodwill by the Macys' in Downton Brooklyn?

You could also try the Brooklyn Flea, although depending on the vendor you may run into the same High-Price issues. But there are some reasonably-priced things there.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:45 AM on June 10, 2013

You might try...
- Green Village in Bushwick
- Film Biz Recycling in Gowanus
- All Kinda Furniture in Sunset Park
- Atlantis Attic in Williamsburg
- One of the two Goodwill locations in Brooklyn
- The Salvation Army in Boerum Hill has furniture in the basement
posted by D.Billy at 9:48 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

The only "thrift store" that I've really seen in NYC that feels like a legit thrift store you'd find in other states is the Salvation Army on Atlantic.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:48 AM on June 10, 2013

Response by poster: I haven't tried any of the other SA's or Goodwills because I'm hoping to find out here whether they are worth the trip or not :) Sounds like they might be!
posted by greta simone at 9:57 AM on June 10, 2013

Response by poster: Oh, and I go to the Brooklyn Flea all the time. Everything there is much pricier than I'm seeking. I'm talking $10 tables here, not $100.
posted by greta simone at 9:59 AM on June 10, 2013

Oh! Oh, you may also want to try this thrift store with a name I always forget that's on Vanderbilt and...Gates, I think? I haven't looked for furniture there, but i know they have it, and I've had very good luck with clothing there, for decent prices.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:00 AM on June 10, 2013

posted by Mender at 10:20 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

My husband and I have found a ton of awesome stuff on Craigslist because it's so effing hard to find decently priced stuff in NYC stores - the mark-up is huge! Compare that to rich people who desperately want to get rid of their beautiful antique coffee table in order to replace it with a slightly nicer antique coffee table. So whenever I'm in need of a new coffee table, I just type in my neighborhood and see what's available (it helps that I live in a neighborhood full of rich people).

Also, I live right across the street from the thrift store that EmpressCallipygoes mentioned and it's pretty meh about furniture, unfortunately.
posted by zoomorphic at 10:36 AM on June 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

As Mender says, Junk is excellent though a shlep. Build It Green on 9th St across from Lowe's is more geared towards the fix-up-project set but sometimes has some great stuff and is always really cheap.

There's a guy in Cobble Hill IIRC (Bergen and Court or so?) who refurbishes and sells a bunch of midcentury stuff for very decent prices, he advertises on Craigslist -- so seconding zoomorphic that Craigslist is a great place to find stuff.
posted by goingonit at 10:41 AM on June 10, 2013

Boy do I hear you on this. Unfortunately, the best solution really does seem to be Craigslistin' it. That, or stoop sales. I have managed to accumulate a pretty good amount of decent furniture here, all of it from individuals and none of it from resale stores.

My dream, though, is to rent a moving van near the end of the month and cruise the streets of Park Slope, scooping up rich peoples' used furniture. I'm still kicking myself over a GORGEOUS wood console I saw in the trash in Brooklyn Heights once. I shoulda sat on top of it and called a man-with-a-van right then and there.

(As a person who once bought an armchair for a dollar back in NC, Junk offends me greatly. It's just... not cheap. At all.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:07 AM on June 10, 2013

New York City thrifting isn't going to be even remotely as good as what you're used to, coming from North Carolina. You mention $10 coffee tables, well, that doesn't exist.

But here are my go-to resources:

- the Salvation Army near the Steinway Street subway station in Astoria, Queens.

- stoop sales

- I've not had great luck with Craigslist, but it's worth trying.

- Furniture Mart, also in Astoria, Queens.

Unfortunately there are too many creative people who know design for you to have even the vaguest chance of finding anything amazing. Also, mentally mark up your prices by 200% or so.

If you have access to a car you could try thrift stores in Long Island and New Jersey, or upstate, but they won't be much better. The real deals are found in Western PA, Ohio, and the Detroit area. You might consider driving back down south for a visit.
posted by Sara C. at 11:36 AM on June 10, 2013

One more person endorsing Craigslist. You have to be near-obsessive checking it, but it pays off. It is where a lot of the stuff you find at places like Green Village and Brooklyn Flea is found you just have to beat the dealers to it.

I have found card catalogs, art deco metal parts cabinets, flat files, barrister bookcases, luxo lamps with articulating arms, the list goes on, and never paid more than $25.00

To give you an idea of the mark-up, I paid $10 for a Luxo lamp at an estate sale in Park Slope. A few months later I saw a similar lamp at an antiques store on Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill for $150.

showbiz_liz My dream, though, is to rent a moving van near the end of the month and cruise the streets of Park Slope, scooping up rich peoples' used furniture.

Rent the Van and obsessively refresh Craiglist to see what people who are moving want to get rid of for fire-sale prices. You would be amazed.
posted by mlis at 8:56 PM on June 10, 2013

Sara C., as someone who has purchased furniture professionally for a furniture conservator as well as always being on the look-out for nice pieces for myself & friends and family, I can tell you the $10 coffee table absolutely exists in NYC via Craigslist.
posted by mlis at 9:00 PM on June 10, 2013

Response by poster: I understand the craigslist thing. But the thing is I'm not looking for something specific. I really want to be able to browse and look and touch things. I'm all over craigslist, but it just doesn't hold my attention long enough.
posted by greta simone at 8:35 AM on June 11, 2013

What you want -- those cavernous dirt-cheap St. Vincent warehouses with pristine if old-fashioned $5 furniture -- just doesn't exist in New York. Your options are basically

- set up craigslist alerts for specific keywords and skim diligently until you find a specific piece you like

- cruise stoop sales

- visit Goodwills and Salvation Armies on the regular and hope to find something you like, knowing you'll pay double or triple what you'd pay for something nicer at a similar thrift store outside the city

- drive out of the city to do this


- pay the markup that comes with a city of 8 million extremely savvy people trying to find a deal on secondhand furniture. (Housing Works is also great for this and not mentioned yet in the thread.)

Unfortunately there's no silver bullet on this. Everybody in New York is looking for the same deal you're looking for.
posted by Sara C. at 9:46 AM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm inclined to disagree, Sara C., because I have found such deals (and not at Housing Works. They are still too pricey, though usually of excellent quality). I'm just looking to expand my search some, I'm not looking for a miracle. I'm already a solid cruiser of stoop sales, but I often work weekend mornings/afternoons, so I rarely get the chance. I am not a car owner, so driving out of the city (or even taking a train out of the city) would be an expense that would defeat the purpose. Using keywords on Craigslist implies that I'm looking for key things, which I am not. I want to browse a place, in the flesh, to get ideas, or maybe happen upon something interesting that I didn't know I wanted.
posted by greta simone at 5:39 AM on June 12, 2013

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