Tag Archives: thrift shops

“Thrifter” Alert for National Thrift Shop Day!!!

Throughout the nation volunteers at thrift shops of every stripe, site, specialty, and affiliation are loading the racks, shelves and bins with irresistible bargains sure to capture the gaze and hearts of ardent bargain hunters. National Thrift Shop Day 2015 http://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thrift-shop-day-august-17/’   comes just in time for shoppers to snag that perfect State Fair outfit or the trendy back-to-school wardrobe for young scholars. Cost conscious consumers heed the data that calculate a cost of $630 to outfit a K-12 learner – though college students may keep clothing costs down they still have to furnish a room, for a statistical average of $899 – which, includes digital gear but omits tuition and fees….!

In her comprehensive study of American frugality journalist Lauren Weber concludes that what’s now called “thrifting” is in the DNA of this nation and its people. Though some historians credit the Puritans for importing the commitment to frugality Weber holds that American penny pinching can also be traced to Revolutionary era necessity. The obligatory habit was elevated to virtue status by the forefathers including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Ben Franklin who advised that the wise consumer would “rather to go to bed supperless than rise in debt.”

Weber’s broad view of our heritage of cheapness puts today’s thrift shops in historic perspective, a relatively modern indicator of need, proclivity, and creative rising to meet society’s needs. It is generally agreed that the first thrift shop was started in 1899 by the UK’s Wolverhampton Society for the Blind (later known as the Beacon Centre for the Blind.) In 1907 the Red Cross opened its first shop at 7 Old Bond Street in London. These shops, staffed by volunteers, served a dual purpose – to raise operating funds for the organization and to meet the immediate needs of impoverished families living in the community. Today’s thrift shops continue to serve this original purpose. At the same time, thrifting has evolved as habitual shopping for environmentalists concerned about preservation of natural resources and social justice advocates protesting the unfair treatment of sweatshop workers and unscrupulous apparel manufacturers. Today what is known as “resale” (as opposed to “retail”) is a multi-million dollar industry. First Research (http://www.firstresearch.com/industry-research/Used-Merchandise-Stores.html estimates the resale industry in the U.S. to have annual revenues of approximately $16 billion including revenue from antique stores which are 13% of their statistics. Established in 1984, the National Association of Retail Professionals (www.narts.org) calculates that there are more than 25,000 resale, consignment and not-for-private retail shops in the U.S. NARTS summarizes the current status of thrift shops thus: “The resale market is blossoming thanks to value-conscious consumers. With an increasing awareness of the importance of reducing pointless waste, we are progressing from a disposable society to a recycling society—a change that has enormous market potential for the resale industry as a whole. After all, “Resale is the ultimate in recycling!” (http://www.narts.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3285) Wise thrifters will want to take affirmative steps to gird their loins and prepare their psyches for National Thrift Shop Day 2015. Some suggestions:

  • Consult the online state-by-state guide to local thrift shop – though incomplete, it’s useful as a guide to the diversity, the unique profile, mission and site of many bargain opportunities. http://www.localthriftshops.org
  • Read the first chapter of In Cheap We Trust, posted online on the NPR site. Better yet, read the whole book – details on the NPR site.
  • Totally get down by marinading in the dulcet tones of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis in their unique rendition of Thrift Shop Feat (parental discretion advised…) youtube.com/watch?v=QK8mJJJvaes


Teen Organizes Stylish Thank You to Neighbors, Inc.

Thrift shopping is hot with teens.   Thrift is a major motivator for young fashionistas who search out name label finds for fun and fashion.  Teens for whom recycling is a way of life assume that recycling wear-ables is an environmental  issue.  The essence of thrift shopping is that it is a grand adventure that comes with bragging rights for the shopper.

Kimberly Wilmes, a sophomore at South St. Paul High School, seized the opportunity to fulfill a “personal project” assignment and to thank a benefactor.  Her project:  Design-on-a-Dime, a style show featuring high end fashions plucked from the Clothes Closet at Neighbors, Inc.

Today Kim is a vibrant, beautiful, talented young woman – full of energy and ideas.  When she was placed with a foster family at eight weeks of age, she was a sick infant with special nutritional needs.  Her foster parents were able to obtain essential food form Neighbors food shelf.   In time Kim was adopted by the Wilmes family from whom she heard the stories of Neighbors’ assistance.   At Neighbors Clothes Closet she learned to spot fashion bargains.   As a teen with a task, she thought to say thank you to her benefactors.

Assignment in mind, Kim imagined the possibilities – she would go back to Neighbors, this time to the Clothes Closet.   At the end of the school day Kim would comb the racks at Neighbors Clothes Closet for designer label outfits.   With her mom as gentle adviser Kim considered and tried  racks of  fashion options.  She recruited classmates to advise, then model, the wardrobes.  With a keen eye and a good bit of conversation they decided on image-outfits – sassy tops with bold bottoms, accessories, shoes, hats.,bags – the total look.  Everything from casual to evening wear, even a bridal gown

On Friday evening, December 1, Kim, her coterie of models, including one extroverted male and some charming little girls for whom Kim babysits, strutted their coordinated stuff in the Design-on-a-Dime style show.  The show was fast-paced and professional.  The designer finds from Neighbors Clothes Closet were sensational – as were the prices which Kim itemized for the appreciative audience who responded with exuberant appreciation for the fashions – and the prices..

The show and community gathering were at Augustana Lutheran Church in West St. Paul.   Admission was a donation of non-perishable food or personal product to the Neighbors food shelf.  The food and the public poured in as the models prepped for their non-stop changes and their several promenades on the fashion runway.

Kim moderated the show with poise and aplomb that belied her youth.  Likewise the models who strutted their stuff with professional panache and pride.

Kim’s gratitude to Neighbors is an inspiration – – as is her passion to save money and the environment.  Kim embodies the spirit of creative volunteerism that has been the strength of Neighbors for forty years.  With young people like Kim Wilmes Neighbors will continue to serve the residents of northern Dakota County for decades to come.