Secondhand stores step it up

  • Article by: JOHN EWOLDT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 21, 2012 - 8:42 AM

Thrift stores are tightening quality control and adding services to keep the middle-class shoppers who discovered them during the recession.

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brenda123129Aug. 20, 12 7:54 PM

Yeah but secondhand stores like Uniques, Savers, Value Village and Goodwill way overprice their stuff for families that can't quite afford things. I've shopped at many of these second hand stores due to my budget and lately over the last 4 or 5 years, the prices they are charging are out of control and out of line. And as far as no ripped or stained clothing out on the floors, evidently our writer has not visited many of the secondhand stores mentioned. I've seen crap clothes at all of these, just pure junk but still it's out on the sales floor. And the shoes, yuck, some are so worn they aren't even good for outside shoes working in the garden ones....Savers is the worst. I quit donating my stuff to these organizations due to the high mark up they put on the clothes. I instead donate them directly to families I know are struggling like we are. When my kids outgrow their clothes I locate families that would benefit from them, heck, if I'm going to donate to the secondhand stores and they mark them out of the price range of most working families then I may as well just give them directly to those families for free. Might be a reason for the drop in donations, hello, you overprice stuff, people get discouraged and no longer find it worthwhile to donate.

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ewoldjrAug. 21, 12 7:55 AM

Brenda, thanks for your comment. Unique, Savers, and Valu Thrift are for-profit retailers in a different category than non-profits such as Goodwill, Value Village and Salvation Army. The non-profits walk a fine line of being inexpensive but also trying to make money for their charitable mission. If you want to get the biggest bang for your clothing and household donations, drop them off at a charity such as Salvation Army, Goodwill or Value Village rather than having a truck pick them up. John Ewoldt (reporter)

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debbywAug. 21, 1211:00 AM

They also need to be smart and size all those clothes that they have. I quit trying to get anything at places that do not have things sorted as it is frustrating to find something I like only to find it is the wrong size. Everything from xs to 4X is lumped together and sorted by color...

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jenyukiAug. 21, 1211:59 AM

Thank you John Ewoldt for stating the differenct between the non-profit stores and the for-profit ones. I'd always assumed all of them were non profit. I'll make sure to shop at the Goodwill, Value Village and Salvation Army from now on. And I agree with Debby - sort by size. So much easier to shop.

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mnmaggiemnAug. 21, 1212:08 PM

I do prefer to check out salvation army first since they seem to do the best at keeping prices down. I have been to Goodwill stores that are outrageously priced. Not affordable like it used to be. I went to Goodwill in St. Cloud and there was an item that I believe was from Target and in the box. The price tag was higher than the Target tag. This was common on all the items that still had packaging and original tags. I understand the original tags were probably clearance priced but still, why should it be priced higher than the store was charging for it brand new and in season?

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comment229Aug. 22, 12 5:59 AM

If you think that items at stores like Goodwill are overpriced, you obviously have not shopped at the mall lately.

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comment229Aug. 22, 12 6:00 AM

Twenty years ago, if you told me, that my family was shopping at stores like Goodwill, I would have laughed at you. Nobody's laughing anymore.

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knk3812Aug. 22, 12 8:49 AM

Brenda 123129: wow-lots of negativity there but I also commend you for your willingness to help out others in budget straights such as yourself. My view is thank goodness that there are places like thrift stores (for-profit or not) These stores make it poassible for me to dress professionally, as is expected, in my job. Commentors wanting better sorting of sizes / quality-be prepared to pay more (every bit of convenience for a shopper costs)Shopping, like life, isn't always easy.

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mouthwashAug. 22, 12 1:02 PM

The hard fact is that, nowadays, while the aisles of department stores like Macy*s and Sears are nearly empty of foot traffic (perhaps most notably in provincial societies such as MN), the aisles of stores like Goodwill and Unique Thrift Store are often so crowded that it's nearly impossible to make it through the aisle. One main reason is that, in addition to ORDER (such as being able to find a nice shirt a customer specifically goes into a store to look for), shoppers also tend to enjoy CHAOS (such as being able to find a coffeemaker that they need, yet weren't specifically looking for). Unlike certain synonyms such as disorder and muddle, the original design of the term CHAOS was meant to be taken in a positive sense. To illustrate, when Woolworths was still in business, they would have a hobby section, including "Big Bag O Stamps" in which there were about 1000 cancelled postage stamps with the slight chance of having a valuable item -- though of course usually it didn't pan out, people LIKED the chaos element involved in having a random group of stamps for collecting even though mostly the stamps turned out to be common & cheap. Another example of chaos nowadays would be _viable_ artwork (not quasi handmade stuff like at Cost Plus) in which a person could get one-of-a-kind usable handmade plates for a fair price which might _eventually_ turn out to be "collectors items". Unless first-hand retailers can compete with the complete loss of commercial CHAOS to second-hand retailers -- keeping in mind that ORDER is also required by customers -- the trend towards second-hand stores will only continue.

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