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A frosh’s guide to thrifting in Princeton

Auhjanae McGee / The Daily Princetonian

As we approach the beginning of the semester, many of us are thinking about our fall wardrobes — especially those of us who are preparing for our first on-campus semester. If this is your first opportunity to show off your style off-screen, here is a guide to where you can thrift some fresh new fits for the fall.

I’ll give you the low-down on the three closest second-hand stores in Princeton, complete with what to look for, what you can expect the prices to be, and what makes each store unique.

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Auhjanae McGee / The Daily Princetonian

Nearly New Shop

Just beyond St Paul’s Catholic Church on Nassau Street, Nearly New is a wonderful store that is tucked away in a parking lot and up a flight of stairs. It has a cozy ambiance, friendly staff, and it has been serving the community 一 and supporting the Princeton Day School scholarship fund 一 for 75 years!

Price point: Definitely the cheapest of the three Princeton-area second-hand stores, Nearly New has a wide range of prices because they are part thrift store, part consignment. Their more expensive pieces are typically displayed on a special rack in the front. You can expect a typical piece to range between $5–15.

What to look for: Nearly New has a great range of clothes, but their outerwear and bottoms selections are outstanding. I have found some of my favorite coats there, as well as my best skirt — a vintage Dolce & Gabbana pleated number, which I paid $30 for.

What makes them unique: Nearly New always has a sale going on. Usually, one (or several) of the colored price tags are half off, so you can get great deals. They also have a biannual “bag day” at the end of summer and winter season in August and February, where for $10, you can get everything you can stuff in a grocery bag.

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Auhjanae McGee / The Daily Princetonian

Princeton Consignment

Just off Witherspoon Street, Princeton Consignment has an airy, comfortable ambiance and conversational staff.

Price point: Princeton Consignment is in the middle of the three second-hand stores in terms of price, because a majority of their pieces average between $15–30, with a few exceptions above and below.

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What to look for: Princeton Consignment has several cute, trendy pieces, and it is generally well curated. Their jewelry selection is reliable, but their vintage rack is their crown jewel.

What makes them unique: Princeton Consignment has a central location right next to campus, which makes it a great place to stop by and peek around after lunch or on a quick jaunt into town. It has great, fairly reasonably priced pieces, which means it doesn’t take much digging to find something you will love.


Auhjanae McGee / The Daily Princetonian

Greene Street Consignment

Princeton’s Greene Street Consignment is one of eight locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and is easily spotted next to the CVS on Nassau. In terms of floor space, it is the largest of the three stores we are looking at, and spans two stories. It has a bustling atmosphere and is typically crowded on weekends, but the racks are spaced far enough apart that it never feels claustrophobic.

Price point: Greene Street is the most expensive of the three consignment stores, mainly because it has an abundance of designer and high-end pieces. It’s definitely possible to find reasonably priced pieces, and it’s certainly cheaper than places like Urban Outfitters, but don’t expect to find crazy bargains. Not including the designer stuff, though, it is similar in price to Princeton Consignment, with an average range between $15–40.

What to look for: Greene Street has an amazing accessories collection, as well as great shoes. The display cases in the front usually have nice and affordable jewelry, and I have found some remarkably cheap tops on the clothing racks. They typically have a good selection from popular brands like Free People, Urban Outfitters, and Lululemon.

What makes them unique: Despite the higher prices, Greene Street does have a large sale section on the second floor, which has some really cute stuff if you look through it. Although it runs more expensive for the higher end items, they do run at bargain prices if you are looking to splurge for a special occasion.

In sum

Shopping consignment and thrift stores has many advantages. Importantly, it is an environmentally friendly alternative to buying new — it saves a huge amount of water and chemicals that are used to produce new clothes, and saves a significant amount of energy (especially if you typically shop online). Buying used in Princeton supports our local community, and the quest to find the perfect top from a crowded rack helps us to buy only the things we actually like and will wear. Pragmatically, many of us are on a budget, and thrifting here is going to be the cheapest option. But above all, when you get into the groove of it, thrifting is just fun!

Now, venture forth into a cheaper, more sustainable shopping spree for the fall semester! Gather a few friends, grab some boba or lunch, and explore the town where you’ll be spending the next few years. Maybe I’ll even see you there.

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