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Thrift stores offer way to shop local, save money

East Valley Tribune/Ahwatukee Foothills News
November 24, 2016
By Adriana Beccerra

The convenience of online shopping has fewer people visiting local stores, instead opting to buy from brand names with one click of a button.

Forrester Research Inc. found that consumers spent $335 billion in online sales; a number that they predict will jump to $523 billion by 2020.

With the option of buying all major brands online, why shop locally?

“You’re supporting your local neighbor, your local community,” said Mike McClanahan, Retail Operations Director for St. Vincent De Paul, “You’re helping someone in need right here.”

Angel Jaquez, store manager at Kid to Kid in Ahwatukee, a resale store specializing in kid’s clothes and toys, agrees.

“It helps the community offer clothing to those who can’t afford it otherwise,” Jaquez said.

Thrift stores offer more to consumers than just shopping locally. They offer clothing and various items at discounted prices, along with an easy way of getting rid of that “clutter closet.”

Thrift stores rely heavily on donations for sustainability. Some only take clothing, while others will take food, clothing and other items.

“Every item that is on our floor is donated,” said Genna Caviness, store manager at the White Dove Thrift Shoppe in Mesa.

Unlike thrift stores, resale stores will pay donors for their clothing, either cash or store credit. Buffalo Exchange will buy clothing at a price they appraised.

“Each buyer is trained through hands-on experience and by becoming completely in tune with the inventory of the store so they can give a fair payout to the seller while offering a good deal for the customer,” said Stephanie Lew, Marketing Director of Buffalo Exchange, a resale store that first opened in Tucson in 1974.

Many thrift stores will invest their funds back in their stores. Others donate their revenue to different charities and organizations.

“We donate to the Salvation Army and the Phoenix Dream Center,” said Jaquez.

The White Dove Thrift Shoppe and St. Vincent de Paul support their respective charity organizations.

“Our funds go directly to our patient care at Hospice of the Valley,” Caviness said.   

Hospice of the Valley is called the largest not-for-profit hospice in the nation. They serve around 17,000 patients and families throughout Central Arizona.

McClanahan said funds from St. Vincent de Paul’s 17 thrift stores in Arizona go to their mission to feed, clothe, house and heal.

“It goes to fund our special ministries where we can buy clothing and essentials for the homeless and the needy,” said McClanahan.

Caviness said that thrift stores are not only beneficial for the people directly involved, but the state as a whole.

“You’re helping the state and incoming money,” said Caviness. “You’re putting people to work. It’s recycling at its best.”

Lew agrees with Caviness on the notion of reduce, reuse, recycle.

“By recycling your clothing through selling or donation, you're giving the clothing a second life,” Lew said. “This helps by not contributing to the demand and waste of clothing pollution.”

Shopping locally proves beneficial for consumers, charities, the environment and the state.

McClanahan said that while shopping at Target is great, there’s nothing like the intimacy of shopping at mom and pop stores.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of a good economy in any community,” he said.