Designer on a Dime

Designer on a Dime

As you can see, the store is quite large, very well-organized, and very clean. This is basically the company’s way of flipping off other thrift stores.

So, on a Saturday night, while I was out shopping, I stumbled across a store that I had never heard of called 2nd Avenue. Upon walking in, I realized it was a second-hand store, but unlike many that I had been in before, this one was spacious, very well-organized, and missing one key part of your typical thrift store – the weird dusty smell.

In fact, the store had quite a pleasant smell (which, if you’ve ever been inside of a thrift store, is very odd, though not un-welcomed). Every single item on the shelves had been cleaned thoroughly and there wasn’t a speck of dust in sight. I decided to sift through the clothing racks, which had been separated by the style of shirt and size. I was surprised to find several designer names in the mix of clothing. When I looked for defects (loose stitching, stains, uneven pattern, etc), there were none in the vast majority of items I looked at.

I was surprised to find several designer names in the mix of clothing. When I looked for defects (loose stitching, stains, uneven pattern, etc), there were none in the vast majority of items I looked at.

pink shirt
A shirt like this, from New York & Company, will go for about $40 in store, but cost $4.90 at 2nd Avenue. That’s a savings of 87.75%

Of course, there were plenty of tops that were clearly in the reject pile (think Christmas sweaters, brands you’ve never heard of, and tops that have ruffles in all the wrong places), but I found many tops that were designed, made from high-quality fabric, and had that Va-va-voom that the savvy shopper is looking for.

And, if you’re anything like me, you often visit those designer boutiques to pine for the clothes that you can, in no imaginable way, afford. To find the names of my favorite designers was like being a child at an Easter egg hunt all over again. I could feel excitement rush through my veins as I saw the clothes I have always wanted at prices I can actually afford, and without having to take them home to scrub out stains before going out in public.

red shirt
I found this gem from a designer, The Limited, which will typically sell for $50, was $8.90. That’s a saving of 82%

In fact, second-hand stores are often fantastic places to find clothes just like these in excellent or even new condition. Many of the clothes on the hangers still had their original tags on them and most felt like they were worn very little if at all. Finds like these can make you feel like you’ve just won the lottery, though I know you are sitting at home wondering what the catch is. It’s simple – you need to be willing to spend some time sifting through a ton of clothing on the racks.

Though the store has gone to great efforts to organize it by general style and size, I found that most of the sizes were actually mixed together (presumably by other shoppers moving things around on the rack), and of course, they do not organize clothes by designer name, and the prices on the shirts do not necessarily correlate with the original price of the item. And of course, as it is a second-hand store, they do not have multiple pieces in different sizes.

This can be extremely frustrating, especially when you come across one of those must-have pieces that are in the wrong size. This happened to me no less than a dozen times while I was on my own shopping spree, so I suggest that you come with no expectations, keep an open mind, and a sharp eye.

banana republic
This was my favorite find, a pair of Banana Republic boot-cut jeans, which usually go for $100 easily, was just $7.90. That’s an amazing saving of 92%

The most frustrating part of my shopping experience was definitely hitting the jeans section. There were a mind-boggling number of pants on the racks, but if they had been organized by size before, they were definitely not when I reached the racks.

What I found to be easiest was to determine the general color scheme that you prefer in denim jeans. As I am an average-sized fashionista, I prefer darker jeans that will draw attention away from my hips and to my lighter or brighter top.

So, instead of going through each pair of pants to see if it was my size, I only looked at the darker jeans that looked to be around my size. That meant skipping over the jeans that were obviously way too small to fit me. By doing this, I was able to find some really excellent deals, more specifically, Banana Republic and Tommy Hilfiger jeans in excellent condition at a mind-blowing discount.

store worker
The staff was all quite friendly and eager to allow me to snap pictures while I documented my trip to the 2nd Avenue store.

When I finally wore myself out and had found a sufficient number of designer deals, I headed up to the cashier to see how I had done. As you other shoppers know, this is usually the part of the trip that you dread the most. You’ve found several pieces you absolutely love, but you know that you will probably have to ditch a couple if the price rings up higher than your budget allows for.

I had the same nervous anticipation, largely from past, as I had grabbed 6 tops and 3 pants – all big name designers, which can easily cost in the hundreds at any of my favorite designer stores. When the cashier rung up my items, she informed me that my awesome finds would cost me $26.08. Of course, I was convinced she had made a mistake, but sure enough, that really was the price of everything.

Of course, as I mentioned before, the biggest catch here is the time you will need to spend to find those great deals. And, as it is a second-hand store, you must also look over each item carefully to make sure there aren’t any stains or loose threads that may pose a problem later on. Of course, spending time to find pieces you like that are in excellent condition is made easier by the conditions of the store.

The entire area is brightly lit, so you don’t have the same problem as you do with stores like Abercrombie & Fitch, where shoppers frequently encounter the problem of thinking they’re buying one thing, and finding something completely different when they bring it home.

What’s great about stores like these is that you not only find great deals on clothing that is in excellent condition, but you’re actually saving the clothing from the landfill. That’s right – there are people who purchase designer clothing, wear it once, twice, or not at all, and throw it away.

Well, thanks to 2nd Avenue, these awesome threads do not go to waste in some landfill but are rather given a second chance to be used to their fullest lifespan by thrifty shoppers. So, give it a shot and head to any number of stores like 2nd Avenue to see what you can find! Share your own experiences in the comments below or any other tips you have for the budget-conscious fashionista!

Special thanks to the staff of the 2nd Avenue Store of Columbia, MD!

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