The two best parts of thrift store shopping, in my opinion, are the deal and the hunt. There is a unique sense of pride you feel when you walk down the street in a pair of amazing shoes that cost you $3 and took you 45 minutes to find. That’s what I think is lacking in most Brooklyn thrift stores. When I walk into the store I want it all, and can afford none of it.
But for vintage junkies like myself (people whose idea of a fun afternoon is getting elbow deep in a box of used retro glasses, or haggling over an ’80s disco dress), the mother load can be found off of the Halsey stop on the L train. Located between the Hollywood Video and the enormous parking lot of the Food Bazaar, The Basement is packed wall to wall with clothes, furniture, books, and other miscellaneous items — at such cheap prices, I convince myself I can’t live without them.
Take, for instance, the 25-cent packs of completely untouched Alf stationary I found. I bought some and have used them for every thank you card I’ve written in the last year (for just $1.25 I bought enough to last me until at least 2010). For $1, I bought an old National Geographic book about primates that became my coffee table book, and the source of amusement for my roommate and I on many a boring night. (When he moved out I gave him the book to remember me by.)
When walking into the basement, one can’t help but notice that it is literally a basement. Don’t let the artwork at the bottom of the stairs set a tone for you (mostly homemade paint-by-numbers and giant prints of clowns and kittens). Just walk right past to the ’50s dinette sets and vintage (mostly kitschy) furniture.
Along the back wall are the dresses that The Basement has deemed “vintage.” Though mostly ’80s, I have found dresses there from as far back as the ’40s (these dresses always make me wish I was going to prom again).
As far as the shoes go, I would say the ratio of treasures to trash is about 1 to 3. I currently own a pair of heels from The Basement that are dead ringers to (and $40 less than) a pair I’d previously considered buying at Urban Outfitters. I also found a pair of too-tight saddle shoes that I bought for $2, and ended up selling to Beacon’s Closet for $20.
Their tee-shirt selection, for the most part, lacks the novelty one wants from a thrift store, though I have found a couple tees that have evoked some cartoon nostalgia. As far as pants and skirts, I’ve never been impressed by their selection. In their defense I rarely wear pants or skirts… I’m more of a dress girl.
The Basement is one of the few thrift stores left that will sell by the pound. I would venture to guess that most of their inventory comes from auctions, estate stales, or is donated by the family members of the elderly or deceased. But this is in a wise thrift store shopper’s favor, because we know that old ladies hang on to the best stuff until the very end.
The best thing about The Basement is how unaware they are about how cool some of their stuff is. You have to be willing to dig, but there are some really unique pieces there. I have never purchased anything there for over $10 (and that’s being generous), so I think the extra time you spend looking around is worth it.
I know that reviewing The Basement might make my deals fewer and farther between. But on the other hand, it will make the hunt more elusive!
452 Wyckoff Avenue