Thrifters share tips and tricksWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
One of the top records in the country right now is “Thrift Shop,” a song by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis extolling secondhand shopping. But the crew at Goodwill Industries of Northwest Ohio has known about the hit tune for some time.
“The ironic thing about it is, if you think about Goodwill, we’re behind the trends, but we were listening to that song in the fall,” said David Takats, director of fund development and marketing. “We thought it was hilarious. We thought it was a fantastic song.”
Goodwill has had a surge in sales in recent years, Takats said, adding that this could be attributed to the stores’ expansion in Northwest Ohio (a new location recently opened at 3249 Navarre Ave., Oregon) and the economy going downward.
“People don’t see the need to buy a $50 shirt, for example, when they can come to Goodwill and get something unique,” he said.
Many Toledo-area thrifters and secondhand shoppers feel the same way. While shopping recently, some shared their tips, tricks and latest finds.
‘Not artsy-fartsy, just cheap’
Alyx Kendzierski, a University of Toledo biology student, said she likes thrifting although she’s “not artsy-fartsy, just cheap.”
On a recent jaunt to the Savers at 3550 Executive Pkwy., Toledo, Kendzierski spent $22.35 for a shirt, socks, shoes, slippers and two cake pans. Typically, she said she likes to keep her trips below $20, but she had to get sneakers at $9.99 that were “way too cool to pass up.”
Kendzierski said that one trend right now is purchasing landscape paintings and inserting fun images like Godzilla into them.
“One of my favorite things is you can get homemade, art-school type things [at thrift stores],” she said.
She also advised, “Don’t be afraid to haggle,” especially if an item is broken.
Another tip for smaller-sized shoppers is to shop in the children’s section, she said.
“It’s actually a lot cheaper to find your clothes in the little kids’ section,” Kendzierski said. Shortly after giving that advice, she located three boys’ shirts with T-rexes on them for $2.99 each.
Although she only took one home, she said, “I could have an entire T-rex wardrobe.”
‘You can alter anything’
Catie Montgomery, who is a student at Owens Community College, said that thrifting is a “very cost-effective way of spicing up your wardrobe.”
She said she believes the “Thrift Shop” song and hipster culture have increased secondhand shopping’s popularity.
“With the rise of that type of culture and with the media blasting that song, I think it’s definitely increased,” she said.
Montgomery said when she thrifts, she looks for dresses and pieces with cool fabrics that she can use to make other items.
“Honestly, the big thing is even if you’re not crazy about a certain thing, you can alter anything,” she said.
Sabrina Rodriguez echoed those sentiments while shopping at the Goodwill at 2021 S. Reynolds Road, Toledo.
She goes thrifting with her mother and sisters about three times a week.
“Thirty dollars gets me a lot,” she said, adding that she especially likes to resew and alter dresses.
At the same Goodwill, Toledo Free Press Star fashion columnist Lauren O’Neill put together an outfit for about $15, consisting of black slacks, a turquoise sweater, an oxford shirt and a yellow handbag.
“If you truly want to spend less than $20 on an entire outfit then Savers or Goodwill are the route to go. At Goodwill, the clothing is separated by colors, so it was very easy to see exactly what we were looking for,” she said.
O’Neill said she was able to find some designer brands at consignment stores, which differ from thrift stores in that individuals sell items through a dealer. CJ’s Closet, a part of Toledo Area Ministries, at 2558 Parkway Plaza, Maumee, is one of those stores and Change of Seasons, at 26597 Dixie Hwy, Perrysburg, is another.
“When you consign an item, you need to price an item for what that item is worth,” said Betty Hill, owner of Change of Seasons. Her customers are “women who maybe can’t afford some of the higher retail prices, but they can afford that item in a consignment store.”
O’Neill said she found unique items at both stores, like polka-dot rain boots at Change of Seasons and a chambray blouse at CJ’s that she ended up purchasing for $14.
“Why would anyone give this away?” she asked, holding the shirt.
O’Neill advised patience when shopping at thrift stores like Goodwill, Savers and Salvation Army.
“When thrifting, be open-minded. Look at it as an experience more than just shopping. It takes time sometimes to find that one piece — your diamond in the rough — but once you find it, the search is well worth the time and effort,” she said.
Grace Powers, a social worker who lives in West Toledo, also recommended patience while she was shopping at the Savers at 2613 S. Reynolds Road, Toledo.
“I’m really into visually scrutinizing each item to be sure it’s what I really want,” she said, adding that she likes shopping alone for that reason.
Powers, a longtime thrifter, worked at Savers in high school. She said certain sizes are difficult to find while thrifting so she doesn’t buy too much clothing. However, her all-time favorite thrift item was a dress.
“I found this really mod ’60s-style dress. It fit like a glove. It was perfect,” she said.
During her most recent trip, she purchased two framed black-and-white prints of a man and woman during bath time for $10 total.
“I’m really into buying household stuff, but I’m also really picky and cheap,” she said with a laugh.
Thrifting with a conscience
While shopping at the Salvation Army Family Store at 1856 W. Sylvania Ave., Toledo, Barbara Clarke of Old Orchard said that in addition to being a money-saver, thrifting is “wonderful exercise. I do every aisle. I have never gone in looking for a specific thing. That would be really frustrating.”
After retiring from working full time about 10 years ago, Clarke decided to change her shopping habits.
“I decided I would never pay full price for an item. My entire closet is thrift,” she said, adding that she has something for every occasion and she recycles items back when she’s finished with them.
Other thrifters also said they shopped with certain ideals in mind.
While looking for a suit jacket for work, Tom Rollins of Maumee said, “I can’t see myself spending $60 on a suit because to me, it’s just stuff.”
“There’s so much to recycle. Why do you need to make new stuff, when all this is available?” said Daniel Meade, Kendzierski’s roommate, on their shopping trip.
Kendzierski said she sometimes buys items like winter hats at thrift stores with the idea of donating them to charities. She also recommended stocking up at thrift stores for adopt-a-family programs to get the most bang for your buck.
Takats pointed out that many thrift stores support charities and nonprofits.
Proceeds from Salvation Army Family Stores help support Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center and Savers partners with 140 nonprofits.
Other thrift stores are attached to parishes and churches like Trinity Church’s Next-To-New Shop in Downtown Toledo.
“There’s great deals all over the place, but one of the things that differentiates us is we’re 100 percent nonprofit. … We use all that money to help your neighbors right here in Northwest Ohio get job opportunities and ultimately employment,” Takats said of Goodwill.