Finding bargains at LI thrift stores

With thousands of items lining the shelves and

With thousands of items lining the shelves and racks at Unique Thrift Store in Westbury, customers go down each aisle, sifting through the hundreds of clothing items while looking for good finds, at good prices. (March 29, 2012) (Credit: Nancy Borowick)

Want your spring shopping budget to go further? Head to your local thrift store.

Whether warehouse-sized or smaller, community-run operations, Long Island's many stores are stuffed with finds. You might unearth '80s peplum blouses en vogue again, designer handbags (without the designer prices) or bold statement jewelry. Avid thrifters say the allure is in the hunt.

"I feel like it's finding buried treasures," says Valery Levine of Bellport. "You don't know what you're going to get."

Although the shopping bounty may be plentiful, it's important to be prepared to dig. Stores don't necessarily organize items by size and type. Some thrift stores are cash only -- and sales are often final.

But the bargains can be steep. To keep merchandise moving, most thrift stores price items with color-coded tags that can translate to an additional 25 percent to 50 percent discount on certain days of the week.

Here are some best bets for stores that offer a reliable selection at low prices.

Selden Thrift

614 Middle Country Rd., Selden, 631-736-3979

This thrifting mecca has generous stock of men's and women's clothing and shoes. The store features a mix of '80s looks and more contemporary styles, along with designer purses and shoes. Clothes are organized by type, then by size. The selection of dresses is impressive -- particularly for special occasions, and even wedding gowns. There are several dressing rooms, so it's easy to try things on.

THE SCOOP Each week, two tag colors are put on extra 50 percent off sales -- come weekends, four tag colors are half-off.

THE GOODS Ann Taylor Loft sleeveless lavender print dress ($14.99), Kenneth Cole taupe pumps ($14.99), Dolce & Gabanna's D&G and vintage Coach handbags ($50-$70).

Unique Thrift Store

525 Old Country Rd., Westbury (other location in Levittown), 516-338-1760, imunique.com

The store is like a massive -- albeit carpeted -- warehouse. It can feel a bit overwhelming, but clothing sizes are listed as small to extra large instead of by numbers, so look carefully. Pants are hung by the thigh, making it easier to spot brand names. "You really have to dig," says Emily Alterman, 17, of Sea Cliff, who prefers thrifting to retail shopping. Still, "you can get awesome stuff."

THE SCOOP Items are 25 percent off on Mondays and Thursdays for VIP members who sign up for a free club card.

THE GOODS Joseph A orange sweater with floral crochet sleeves ($7.99), vintage Salvatore Ferragamo loafers ($14.99), Lipsy designer strapless floral dress with silver rhinestones ($69.99), Tuleh designer canary short sleeve button-down jacket ($99.99), 7 For All Mankind jeans ($7.99).

Island Thrift

700 Suffolk Ave., Brentwood, 631-231-0460

With a good mix of purses and accessories, as well as clothing neatly organized by type and size, it's easy to spend time here. Vintage jewelry is a big draw, while bags (some designer) hang on a large wall. Shoe gems emerge for both men and women.

THE SCOOP New discounts start on Saturdays, when colored tags rotate into extra 50-percent-off territory.

THE GOODS Vintage earrings, necklaces, pins and rings (from $2.99; finer jewelry can go up to $198), Seychelles floral peep-toe sandals with a gold buckle ($6.92), Dooney & Bourke black leather bag ($20.99), Jones New York printed wrap dress ($20.99), Lucky jeans ($12.99).

AMVETS Thrift Center

1179 Sunrise Hwy., Copiague, 631-699-2412

Opened last month, this is the first AMVETS location on Long Island. At more than 19,000 square feet, it's a big one. There's a great selection of sizes -- 0-28 for women, small to 3X for men. Clothes, shoes and home goods are displayed clearly on long racks or shelves. "I like to hunt," says shopper Laura Lemanowicz, 34, of Bayside, looking at tablecloths. "You get a good bargain while the other people are paying top dollar."

THE SCOOP Seniors (over 55) get a 25 percent discount on clothes on Mondays, as do teachers and students on Tuesdays. Each week, a tag color is put on extra 25 percent off.

THE GOODS Candie's black leather-like pumps ($6.98), BCBG Max mara printed silk blouse ($3.44), Lauren Conrad white jeans ($5.98), Moda International navy and white print silk halter dress ($6.98).

Savers

188 Hempstead Tpke., West Hempstead (other locations in Holbrook and Medford), 516-489-1661, savers.com

Aisles of clothing aren't overwhelming at this medium-sized store. Items are separated by type and size. Pants are hung by the thigh, making it easy to see the designer labels in the waistbands. Shoes offer a nice selection from sizes 6-12, and better sportswear -- blazers, suits, and dresses -- give shoppers more bang for their buck.

THE SCOOP Every Monday, two tag colors are put on 50 percent off (that drops to one on weekends); Savers club members get 25 percent off on Thursdays

THE GOODS Somethin' Else from Skechersnow rhinestone lace-up espadrilles ($12.99), Izod Club pink cotton shorts ($3.99), International Concepts (INC) silk purple printed shirtdress ($9.99), Calvin Klein sheath dress ($14.99), emerald wide brim hat with rhinestone detail ($6.99), Land's End striped button-down blouse ($6.99), Chaps seersucker pants ($14.99).

Goodwill Industries

1900 E. Jericho Tpke., East Northport, 631-462-4219, goodwill.org

Thrift shopping is made easier at this store, as tops are organized by color, then by size. Basic cotton blouses are plentiful (from $4.99) as are jeans by brands like Lucky and Express (from $7.49). This is the place for work-wear, with blazers by Harvé Benard, Talbots, Style & Co., and even Michael Kors for Bergdorf Goodman (from $8.49).

THE SCOOP 50 percent off on the color-of-the-week tags, which change every Monday. Every Sunday, shoppers can get two color-of-the-week clothing items (excluding winter coats) for $4.

THE GOODS Michael by Michael Kors black strappy-heeled sandals ($24.99), Ann Taylor Loft embroidered cap sleeve blouse ($7.99), 7 For All Mankind V-neck sweater ($9.99), Alfani print dress ($12.99).

Community Thrift Shop

274 New York Ave., Huntington, 631-271-4883

This thrift shop is for patient treasure hunters. While men's and women's clothing is separated by type, items are not sorted by size. Still, women will find brands like Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren on the $4 rack of jeans and even boutique dressy options. Vintage jewelry, shoes, and a separate book room are also highlights.

THE SCOOP Get 50 percent off everything in the store now through the end of May, courtesy of a spring sale. $1 clothing racks are placed outside. Cash only.

THE GOODS Designer Kenzo Studio orange floral silk pants ($6), White House Black Market graphic printed sweater ($2.50), Nine West gold flat sandals ($5), vintage silk beaded black and white pinstriped blazer ($2), Banana Republic floral dress ($10).

Reader pick

ANGEL THRIFT STORE

166 Hempstead Tpke., West Hempstead

INFO 516-343-9373

SUBMITTED BY Catherine Pinto of Franklin Square

This no-frills store opened about six months ago. Although smaller than mega-stores, it packs a number of shoes and accessories, as well as men's, women's, kids' clothes on its two floors. "I got a great pair of older vintage Levi's to wear with half-boots for $5," says Pinto, 46.

THE SCOOP A 50 percent-off sale on clothes and shoes continues through end of April. Cash only.

THE GOODS Pinkyotto sleeveless dress ($4), BCBG Max Azria silk dress ($6), multicolored Betseyville by Betsey Johnson flats ($2.99), Barneys New York 2-piece skirt-suit ($12.50), Stuart Weitzman black crisscross peep-toe sandals ($6).

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