Shopping Scout: Bethesda’s Secondhand Shops
If you’re on the hunt for a unique bargain, look no further than downtown Bethesda.
View Larger MapTakoma Park’s vintage boutiques may get most of the buzz in the suburbs, but serious bargain hunters and vintage lovers would do well to take Metro’s Red Line in the other direction and check out Bethesda’s lengthy roster of secondhand shops as well. We recently spent an afternoon exploring Bethesda’s bargain haunts and came home with a hefty load of cool vintage finds.
7740 Old Georgetown Road; 301-656-0845
Tuesday through Saturday 11 to 6, Sunday 1 to 5
The scoop: A hodgepodge of knickknacks, clothing, and housewares jumbled together in a historic three-story house.
Best for: Those who don’t mind picking through piles to get to the good stuff. There wasn’t a huge selection, but we did spot a few gems, including a vintage Boy Scout shirt and hat for $6.
We left with: A 1950s-era children’s board game in mint condition for $3 (we loved the vintage graphics and retro game pieces) and a Magic 8 ball ($1) which we plan to pair with a bottle of wine for a fun party-host gift.Stop #2: Accessories of Old
4822 St. Elmo Ave.; 301-760-7228
Monday through Friday 10:30 to 5, Saturday 10:30 to 5:30
The scoop: We were instantly smitten with this new Bethesda shop, packed from floor to ceiling with vintage sewing accessories (from one-of-a-kind buttons to bright ribbons to handmade sequin appliqués) and costume jewelry.
Best for: Sprucing up your wardrobe staples. We love the idea of swapping in cool vintage buttons on basic shirts and coats. There are hundreds of styles and colors to choose from.
We left with: Lots and lots of ideas—and immediate plans to return for an oversize floral metal button ($6.50) that we’ll glue onto a simple band to make a retro cocktail ring.Stop#3: Second Chance Boutique
4920 Fairmont Avenue; 301-652-6606
Tuesday through Saturday 10 to 5, Sunday noon to 4
The scoop: This high-end consignment shop is stocked with designer labels—from Manolo Blahnik to Chanel—but it’s definitely not for the faint of wallet.
Best for: Those who like their designer finds at a relative discount. We spotted a Yohji Yamamoto tuxedo coat ($800), a Marc Jacobs shirtdress ($180) and a pair of Salvatore Ferragamo evening heels ($100).
We left with: Nothing—this time. But we’re seriously thinking of returning to splurge on a vintage Yves Saint Laurent black sheath with a white Peter Pan collar and crisp cuffs ($400).Stop #4: Mustard Seed
7349 Wisconsin Ave.; 301-907-4699
Monday through Saturday 11 to 7, Sunday noon to 6
The scoop: This popular boutique has a stylish mix of brand-new clothing along with reasonably priced consignment and vintage items. Most vintage dresses, for example, run about $12 to $14.
Best for: When you’re tired of rummaging and want a clean, well-organized way to shop secondhand. Plus, if you’ve got gently used clothes to get rid of, make an appointment to bring them in. You’ll get cash on the spot for any pieces the store buys.
We left with: One of the cotton blouses from Mustard Seed’s new selection, a tunic-length style with a bow-tie neck for $58. It’s the perfect springtime staple.
Stop #5:Montgomery County Thrift Shop
7125 Wisconsin Ave.; 301-654-0063
Monday through Saturday 9:30 to 4, second Sunday of the month noon to 4 (all nonconsignment items half off)
The scoop: We’re always charmed by the sweet volunteers who run this charity shop, which has a typical mix of secondhand clothing, shoes, housewares, books, and more.
Best for: Vintage clothing and accessories—it can be hit or miss, but we’ve found some really gorgeous pieces here. The adjacent consignment area has a nice selection of higher-quality (and slightly higher-priced) jewelry and housewares.
We left with: A tea-length cream tulle skirt with a black velvet waistband for $12—the perfect vintage version of the super-full skirts that were all over the spring runways.
Stop #6: The “Op Shop” (Opportunity Shop)
4504 Walsh St.; 301-654-4999
Tuesday through Saturday 10 to 4
The scoop: Another large charity shop, run by St. John’s Episcopal Church, with a little bit of everything from clothing to housewares to jewelry.
Best for: Lots of random bargains at incredibly low prices. Plus, if an item has been sitting around for a while, the staff will often discount it even more if you ask nicely.
We left with: An armload of finds, including a vintage Pioneer record player in excellent condition for $8 (the same model is selling on eBay for $80), elbow-length gloves for 50 cents, brightly colored vintage hankies for $1 each, and a fitted white bib-front tuxedo shirt for $4—a close cousin to one we were recently eyeing from designer Phillip Lim.
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