Buried on the basement floor beneath three stories of used books, DVDs, CDs, and video games, this outgrowth of the Book-Off Group stores (the “Hard-Off” outlets always strike me as particularly ill-named) is a sartorial bunker.
Bingo has a couple of locations in Tokyo; of the two, the store in Shibuya is the only one where customers can both sell and purchase clothing. It also happens to be fairly massive. Clear signage directs shoppers to aisles of watches, bags, skirts, shoes, parkas, long-sleeve shirts, boy scout and USPS shirts, vests, sweater vests, suede safari vests, if that happens to be your kind of thing.
The Jiyugaoka location functions as a drop-off point for clothing, which Bingo purchases with an eye to brands—a selling guide is available online. I feel compelled here to issue a preliminary brand name-dropping warning, as one characteristic of the store is its offering of higher-medium-end clothing at accessible prices. Brooks Brothers button-down shirts start at 990yen and run to around 1,990; agnes b t-shirts are priced at 680yen; United Arrows blazers at around 6,000yen; and t-shirts from that triumvirate of high school nostalgia or antipathy, Abercrombie, Hollister, and Aeropostale, between 500 and 1,990 yen.
If you’re in the market for leather pants, however, you’ll have to shell out 12,600yen minimum.
True bargains included the four massive racks of t-shirts from every imaginable slot on the color wheel for 680yen each, a denim jacket for 300yen, and vintage military surplus coats averaging 2,990yen but not impossible to find for 500 and up. All items are in suspiciously excellent condition, as if discarded before they were ever worn (tsk), and even the jeans from the cheapest racks are unsullied Levi’s and Wranglers.
I was also pleased to discover sale racks, raising the concept of the secondhand store to an unprecedented degree of thriftiness.
Be warned, however. In accordance with Bingo’s buying policy, sections of the store can feel boutique-y, and cheapo standards must be adjusted accordingly, i.e. relative to how “cheap” a Ralph Lauren rugby shirt has to be in order to really be cheap. At Bingo, they average 1,990yen—so, you tell me.
Case in point: a pair of suede Gola shoes that cost seventy-five euros online and discounted, tops, to forty-five. I found them for 3,590yen, more than I would usually pay for a pair of shoes but still comparatively reasonable. My cheapskate nature won out and I left them behind, discreetly stashed behind another pair of shoes, because after all I might find them more cheaply elsewhere, or maybe someone will give me a pair, or I could always make my own…
Or I’ll just come back for them.
|Location:||32-13 Udagawacho B1, Shibuya-ku [opposite the GrandTokyo Building]|
|Closest station:||5-minute walk from Shibuya Station, Hachiko Exit (JR, Keio, Tokyu, Tokyu Metro)|
|Web:||http://www.bookoff.co.jp/shop/shop87003.html (Japanese only)|
|Business Hours:||11am-10pm daily|
Photograph the famous Shibuya scramble crossing, wander around the curious and quirky love hotel hill, visit Yoyogi park and Meiji shrine...