Culture thrift

Published 8:49 am Wednesday, August 26, 2009

FRANKLIN—There’s a recession happening in the United States, but you might not know it in some area businesses.

The resale industry seems to be thriving and growing.

“People have always looked for bargains, but we are seeing new people coming in who are shopping that have never shopped in a consignment store before,” said Nancy Gray, the owner of Second Tyme Around. “I hear them saying, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I got all this for $10.’”

Gray has been in the consignment business for 18 years and said she is seeing more families come in for bargains.

“They’re looking especially for children’s clothes,” she said.

Consignments have been steady, too. Gray said she has had to turn people away.

“I am really selective over the clothes,” she said. “I don’t take anything I wouldn’t buy myself.”

Resale attracts a new demographic of both suppliers and customers during difficult economic times, according to the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops.

“People who previously gave away clothing, household goods and furniture are seeking other ways to dispose of unwanted items during an economic pinch,” said Adele Meyer, executive director, “Some donate merchandise to a not-for-profit thrift shop and take advantage of the tax deductions while helping a charity raise money. Others may choose to sell or consign merchandise at a local resale shop, turning their ‘no longer needed’ articles into cash.”

NARTS members have reported significant increases in both sales and incoming inventory as consumers tighten their spending and search for sources of extra income.

The association recently surveyed its membership to determine how second quarter 2009 sales figures compared to those of the same time period in 2008. Of the 263 stores that responded, 64.1 percent said sales increased with an average increase of approximately 31 percent. Nearly 12 percent said sales were about the same and 24.4 percent had a decrease in sales.

The survey also revealed that 77.9 percent of the stores experienced an increase in new customers.

“People are definitely coming in here and saying it’s a good thing,” said Clyde Bailey, who manages Trinkets and Treasures Thrift Store, which recently opened in downtown Franklin. “Most of the stuff in here is dirt cheap. We know there’s a recession going on.

“It ain’t about trying to get a blessing, but being a blessing,” he said.

“Business is coming along,” said Upsy Daisy owner Doris Holloway. Her thrift store, located at 17397 Southampton Parkway in Capron, has been open for three weeks.

“We’re here for the community of Capron,” Holloway said. “There wasn’t really a thrift store in this community before. People who live here had to travel to either Franklin or Emporia for the nearest thrift store. (Opening the store was) a vision that was given to me from God.”

Holloway said most of the items at Upsy Daisy were donated, and several of them were found on Internet sites like Craigslist.

Though Upsy Daisy is a store, Holloway said she also uses it for charitable work.

“With the economy taking a nosedive, some people have probably lost their jobs,” Holloway said. “School is getting ready to start. There might be a mother or a father out there who don’t know how they’re going to send their children back to school. This is a place where they can come and say, ‘Hey, I’m one of those parents.’ I can lock that door and let them get what they need for their children free of charge. It was donated to me, and I can donate to the community. Everything is not for sale.”

Debbie Daughtery, owner of New Life Resale Boutique, said both the shoppers and consigners benefit from these stores.

“It seems like people are digging deeper to bring stuff in,” she said. “It’s a good way to make good money. You get 50 percent of whatever I make.

“The shoppers are ecstatic, too. We have a lot of teachers coming in. They said they don’t go to the malls anymore.”

Customers nationwide have caught the resale bug as they look for resourceful and creative ways to cut back on spending, particularly for clothing and furniture.

“The slumping economy may draw people in, but once they visit a resale shop for the first time they are pleasantly surprised with the high quality of merchandise and are forever hooked on a new way of smart spending,” said Chris Cowman, NARTS president and owner of one more time in Columbus, OH. “The popularity of resale has never waned, and we believe our members will come out of this recession in a stronger position — with a larger customer base — as a broader section of consumers explore the many options the resale industry has to offer.”

New shops are being opened at a rate of about 7 percent a year, higher than in years past.

“Many factors contribute to the popularity of resale during both strong and unsettled economic climates,” said Meyer. “Increased awareness of recycling, the quest for higher quality for less money, the lure of finding something distinctive, the ‘thrill of the hunt’ and the excitement of a good buy are just a few things that lure the savvy shopper. One of the foremost reasons that resale thrives in a slow economy is simple … people love a bargain.”