First off, we must say that we usually like to get our Critical Shopper follow-up posted promptly on Thursday, but this week in the New York Times' Thursday Styles, Alec Kuzcynski had us careening all over Brooklyn which gave us time-mamagement issues. Geographical challenges aside, we made sure to hit her choice thrift stores in Williamsburg and Park Slope, though we have a litle trouble visualizing our ever more intrepid Alex, cheap though she may purport to be, rummaging through racks of pre-owned clothes. And for good reason. Apparently a used purse is enough to send her fertile mind reeling:
I bought a metallic clutch purse at Alice Underground, inside of which I found half a piece of chewing gum, a torn ticket to the Metropolitan Opera and a $20 bill. It made me sad to think that one day you wake up and go to the opera and neatly tear your stick of Wrigley’s in half and tuck the rest back into your purse, and the next you’re dead and your kids have given away your clothes and some dumb college kid is taking your handbag to a nightclub, where she will use the $20 for overpriced drinks.
Imagine what an entire closet of vintage would do to her imagination.
More after the jump
Normally we would chide Alex for her expectations of good service in a thrift shop, but since Hooti Couture was recommended to her on that basis, we give her pass. In fact, when we walked in, an animated salesperson (probably owner Alison Houtte herself) was selling the hell out of her goods to one customer while apologizing to another for not being able to help her at the same time. What we found in this small but well-kept shop included men's and women's shoes, clothing and lots of accessories of varying provenance. Houtte also stocks a small selection of furs in excellent condition, especially considering their age.
Those looking for vintage designer gems might have to hunt particularly carefully. The label selection was more democratic than that, but what was there appaeared to be in excellent condition, and the attentive level of service is a welcome find in any retailer. The store even has its own blog!
Next it was on to Williamsburg for Beacon's Closet, a 5,500 square foot thrift warehouse. This was where Alex's Purell hand wipes might have been appreciated, not that the store was dirty or messy, quite the contrary, but with all those racks and stacks of old clothes, you really don't know where all that stuff has been. Thethousands of items are crefully arranged by category and color, no easy task in a store this big. Vintages ranged from the 40's to what appeared to be the 90's including a fairly wide selection of jeans. Labels were all over the place and ranged from cheap to designer. we noticed a jacket from Sears hanging right next to one from Catherine Malandrino, so finds are there if you have the patience and the eye. We spied an elegant pair of lizard stiletto slingbacks from exclusive London shoe designer Gina for about $30 next to shoes that might have come from J.C. Penney. The men's section is somewhat less abundant, hardly any jeans, but equally wide ranging. A walk down Bedford Avenue easily shows how Beacon's Closet plays an important role in clothing the denizens of Williamsburg.
One word of advice when vintage shopping: Always try everything on because a size 8 from last year could be a 10 from 1989. Don't be put off by a bigger size, or altering, because at these prices, it's worth the risk. Use your eyes. And bring Purell.
Critical Shopper: A Vintage Trip Through Brooklyn by Alex Kuczynski (NYTimes.com)
Hooti Couture 321 Flatbush Avenue (near Seventh Avenue) Park Slope, Brooklyn
Beacon's Closet 88 North 11th Street (between Berry and Wythe Streets), Williamsburg, Brooklyn;
Park Slope loaction: 220 Fifth Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn