Hidden Gems

Sometimes treasures can be found just around the corner in your own neighborhood thrift shop. That 1964 A Hard Day’s Night Beatles album could be hidden among records at the Salvation Army. The dark, wooden coo coo clock that hung on your grandmother’s kitchen wall when you were growing up could be sitting on a shelf at your local Goodwill; all you have to do is look.

“Thrift stores will always be popular because you never know what you will find,” said Andy Stearns, employee at Tropicana Vintage Clothing in Carbondale. “A lot of the fashion fads are starting to become popular again and people are going to thrift stores to look for them.”

As retail store prices make it impossible to buy anything unless it is on sale, thrift shops are thriving with their draw of unique items and low costs.

The cheap prices are the main draw of thrift stores. The items for sale are obtained for free by donation from the public, and because business costs are low, the items can be sold at competitive and cheap prices.

The selection at thrift stores are a hit or miss. Some stores are better organized than others and new merchandise will appear every week, so the thrift shopper must have a good eye.

Clothing, dishes, and furniture are staple items of a thrift shop, and at first they can seem boring or unpromising, but a little creativity could turn your thrift shop find into a one of a kind gem.

Jenna Buchholz, a frequent thrifter from Carbondale, said, “I once bought a pair of high waisted jeans at Goodwill. They were too long and not very appealing, but I cut them into shorts and now  they are one of my favorite pieces. You’ve got to go into a thrift store thinking, ‘What can I do with this?’”

Stearns said Tropicana is technically a vintage clothing shop, with items from the ‘80s, ‘70s, and even ‘50s.

“A lot of our stuff is unique. We have clothing and then we also have random antique knick knacks. We even have costumes for rental purposes,” he said.

Stearns said the most interesting find he’s ever seen at Tropicana was a fully bedazzled Elvis Jumpsuit.

“The coolest thing I’ve ever found at a thrift shop was a “Mystery Date” board game from the ‘70s. I don’t even think they make that game anymore,” Buchholz said.

But the best advice when it comes to thrift shopping is to buy what you like. If you buy that vintage glass Santa Claus figurine hoping to turn a profit, you’re missing the whole point of thrifting. It’s not what something is worth — it’s what it’s worth to you.


Tips For Thrifting:

-Be creative and open-minded. See what is available and think about how you can utilize it and make it your own.

-Do your research before you set out to shop. Many thrift stores have half-price days, discounts on certain items (depending on how long it’s been for sale), and bargain days for families and seniors.

-Shop the whole store, not by department. Sometimes merchandise will end up in strange places. You could find the perfect picture frame for your coffee table in women’s wear.

-If you are looking for a Halloween costume or something for a school play, thrift stores are the way to go.

-Don’t forget to drop off the things you no longer use when you’re at the thrift store. One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure.