Racks on Racks
A guide to thrifting in Bushwick
By Cara Griffin
For young people searching for a creative outlet—whether that be through fashion, art, music, or photography—Manhattan just isn’t cutting it. The concept of escaping the crowded streets and hustle of Manhattan for the more leisurely pace and colorful neighborhoods of Brooklyn has become an exciting and pervasive mindset. Bushwick is full of thrift shops that offer amazing alternatives to fast fashion labels at low prices in spacious storefronts that put Manhattan’s small vintage shops to shame. Part of the appeal for Manhattan residents like myself is the adventure of hopping on the L Train for a day of thrifting in Bushwick.
However, like many areas of Brooklyn, Bushwick is becoming more and more like the Manhattan neighborhoods I roam every day. Just this past summer, a Blue Bottle Coffee opened up next to the iconic McKibbin Lofts and new fancy apartment buildings are popping up near the Morgan Ave stop. What remains to keep Bushwick unique compared to my regular spots in Manhattan is its thrifting scene, where the livelihood of the streets are manifested through the great finds on endless racks. Said great finds are in abundance at Urban Jungle. If you have never heard of it before, drop everything right now and take the L train to Morgan Avenue. I will pay your MTA fee. Urban Jungle is a branch of L Train Vintage, a chain of thrift shops boasting locations throughout Brooklyn and one store located in Manhattan’s East Village. Its expansiveness and seemingly endless racks of denim, flannel, oversized jackets, floral dresses, and t-shirts in every color are overwhelming at first — however, you will soon grow to love and crave the hunt for a new statement piece or simply a new pair of jeans. Located at 120 Knickerbocker Avenue, Urban Jungle’s prices range from around $5 to $30. You can swing it.
The first vintage store you’ll come across when you exit the Morgan Ave stop is Friends NYC. Created in 2012 as a friendship pact between two women interested in fashion design and thrifting, Friends NYC houses a mix of both vintage clothing as well as pieces from local artists and worldwide designers. The shop is also full of shoes, accessories, greeting cards, and home décor. It’s slightly pricer than some of shops in the area, but the curated selection makes up for it. Located at 56 Bogart Street, Friends offers a small map listing other hidden gem thrift shops in the surrounding area, making it a great first stop on your Bushwick thrifting tour.
If you’re familiar with Beacon’s Closet in Manhattan, you’ll be happy to know there’s a better one in Bushwick. Arranged by color and style, the Beacon’s Closet located at 23 Bogart Street is filled with unique pieces of clothing. While it requires some digging, you are bound to discover something worth purchasing. Beacon’s Closet offers a wide variety of styles, including vintage dresses and blazers, secondhand varsity jackets, and chunky secondhand sneakers.
A few other great destinations are Collections, L Train Vintage on Flushing Ave, Chess & The Sphinx. You are bound to discover more once you begin exploring all that Bushwick has to offer.
After spending the day in Bushwick/East Williamsburg, it’s easy to leave satisfied with a bag full of new goodies. As a neighborhood in flux, the Bushwick thrifting scene keeps the spirit of the streets present. And if you’re lucky you can even spot a mobile thrift shop trailer that sometimes makes appearances.
Originally published Fall 2016