News and Views: Who Shops at Thrift Stores?

In short, the answer is…me! I am a huge fan of the many different types of thrifty stores out there (Salvation Army, Goodwill, second hand consignment shops, vintage sellers on Etsy, etc.) as I have never failed to find the coolest and most unexpected items within their walls.

Those of us who are fans of vintage, repurposing, recycling and upcycling have long been in love with these shops as we can get yards of fabric, or other hidden gems that were formerly loved by another, at dirt cheap prices and transform it into something fun, functional, fabulous (or all of the above).

Cute dresses, like this one of a kind beauty, are frequently found in VeraVague's vintage shop!

So when I decided to redo my kitchen recently I knew exactly where I was going to go!

Located right on Broadway in Somerville, Massachusetts, the Salvation Army store in my neighborhood is a great size. They take in and resell donated items such as furniture, dishware, clothing, jackets, accessories (purses, belts, etc.) and many home décor items.

I was specifically on the hunt for a red glass vase, and bowls to complete my table setting. Once inside I immediately spotted a candy apple red vase and without hesitation it went right in the cart. Then while looking through the dishes my jaw literally dropped. In the furthest back corner of the bottom shelf were 6 bowls in perfect condition.

The kicker? They are the exact same pattern as the plates I just got for free from my grandparent’s house! Score! But best of all each bowl was only $.99. I was excited to complete the table set for just $7.00 when my ever roving eye happened to spy something I knew to be high quality.

A ways down from the bowls, also on the lower shelf, were 6 perfect condition square, green, heavy duty plates. Now I should explain that my husband wanted square plates all along but the price for them in a retail shop was kind of outrageous, especially when compared to getting round plates for free from my grandparents. When I saw these I thought “Ooh, perfect size for small food like sushi, Matt will love them!”

The plates were only $1.49 a piece and when I flipped them over to make sure they were intact I was once again blown away to find they were from Pottery Barn. These could easily fetch upwards of $10 per plate in that store. And I would be buying brand new.

As I approached the counter with my little treasures my smile could not be contained! The gentleman rang me up and for just $16.86 I was going to go home with some remarkable dishware to complete my kitchen table’s catalog / showroom vibe.

And then it happened.

As another guy behind the counter was wrapping my items in 2 day old Boston Globe newspaper sheets, the guy who rang me up started talking to a woman about why he couldn’t reduce the price of a rug. He said their store was actually losing money and they even had to let people go recently.

He said he was one month down and if it happened for 2 more in a row they would shut him down. My eyes widened at the thought.

ASecondChance uses thrift shops to their best advantage, everything in her shop was originally a thrift store item!

Now I like to shop in these places due to my Greenie nature of wanting to reuse as much as possible, I also love to donate to them because you have to give & take of course. But the community where this store is located is a fairly low income neighborhood and I would bet that many of the people who shop at that Salvation Army store do so simply due to financial restraints.

My heart sank and I said a little prayer that they wouldn’t close as it is such a beneficial spot for the community at large. It made me want to start shopping there even more often, using the items I purchase to create items for my shop or home.

I try to consider thrift and vintage stores before big box retail most of the time anyway but this just fueled the flame! If any of you reading happen to be in or around Somerville, Massachusetts I strongly urge you to get on over to the Salvation Army store on Broadway, right in Magoun Square. Maybe I’ll run into you there!

Pictures:
My kitchen table with the plates and vase (plus handmade napkins I created from salvaged fabric, placemats I made from remnant fabric and vintage cup/saucer sets I won in a blog giveaway)
VeraVague — Black and white and red and YOU all over
ASecondChance — Charcoal grey wool scarf (upcycled from a sweater)
Map of Magoun Square

This post was written by

Karen Lee – who has written posts on Eco Etsy.
I live a simple life. But want to spread the message that green living is easy if you weave it into your life and choose the right products. So I co-founded Green Sisterhood, a network of green female content writers whose mission is to change the market and to introduce you to wonderful green companies. I also share eco tips, fun DIY's and enviro news on ecokaren. I sell handmade goodies in my Etsy shop and help others open Etsy businesses as a handmade educator. You can connect with me on Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest and on Google +. I'd love to hear from you.

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Comments

  1. Salvation army closed in our area! :(
    but we do have a number of others so the pain is not
    too bad But there were always certain kinds of things
    that I would go there to find.
    nice article!! :)

  2. This was a fantastic article! I am a big-time thrift-hound and I practically wet my pants when I spot a new thrift shop! My current favorites: Red White and Blue in Trenton, NJ, Unique Thrift in South Plainfield, NJ, and Philly Aids Thrift in Philadelphia. I hope your Salvation Army store makes it!

  3. I love shopping at my local thrift stores, and try to frequent those run by local charities. I was so disappointed when I found out that Walmart owns the chain Value Village, and they are now at the bottom of my shopping list. Winnipeg is known for its bargain shoppers, and so we actually have quite a few other thrift shops to choose from.

  4. I saw an increase of traffic in our local Good Will store since the recession. I’ve hauled away more stuff ‘from’ there than ‘to’ there myself.

    I hope the Salvation Army doesn’t close in your neighborhood. It’s not just a place for greenies like us to find cheap upcyclable things but it’s also a place where so many people get financial and spiritual help.

    On a side note, I didn’t know you can haggle for a lower price at these thrift stores? I never did that before. In fact, I feel bad sometimes for paying so little!

  5. I love to shop 2nd hand… I find everything from housewares to clothing, to yarn and fabric that I will repurpose. I hope that shop doesn’t have to close down!

  6. Yes, I love my local thrift store, too (I snatched a mirror there last week for $10.00 that is in Pier One right now for $100.00!) and am a flea market addict. I hope your shop makes it- I hate to see reusers close down!

  7. I shop at thrift stores every week! Not only for my Etsy shop RetroLabs, but for my family and I! I have found some amazing treasures, like this framed Charley Harper needlepoint for $4.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/janssendesigns/4020705418/in/set-72157621667614641/
    great post! hope your thrift shop survives.

  8. I will add my prayer that your wonderful thrift shop stays open! We have a GREAT thrift shop here in Goodland, KS, on Main St. All shirts and blouses are 50¢, which is so great. But they have 1/2 price sales all the time, so I usually get them for 25¢ each. If you are ever traveling through Western Kansas on I-70, stop by and tell Lavaughn hello and that Mary Ellen sent you!