Janesville84.1°

Thrift, consignment shops sales booming in light of poor economy

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
October 15, 2008
— Larry Taylor and Wendy Blanchard were in need of winter clothes.

So the Beloit couple stopped at the Salvation Army Thrift Store while in Janesville earlier this week.


What they found was exactly what they needed—two sweatshirts, a pair of long underwear and a flannel shirt—all for $11.


“It fits our budget,’’ Taylor said.


“You find good bargains you can’t afford at regular stores,’’ Blanchard said.


“We go to Wal-Mart, but not for clothes when I pay this for the cost of one shirt,’’ she said.


While the souring economy has hurt most retailers, it appears to be a boon to local second-hand and thrift shops, which are reporting sales increases.


Taylor and Blanchard said they shop primarily at thrift stores.


“It enables us to save money for gas,’’ Taylor said.


Taylor, 64, is a meat cutter for a grocery chain in Rockford, Ill. Blanchard, 52, has been out of work for a couple years, and her unemployment has run out. Although she’s looked for work, she said there “is nothing out there.”


Taylor said it’s important to save because of the economy most likely will get worse in Rock County with the closing of General Motors and its suppliers.


“You never know what’s going to happen. It’s pretty scary. I figure I’m going to get cut one day a week soon because the economy is so bad,” he said. “People won’t be buying a lot of steaks.”


Thrift shops

Salvation Army Thrift Store Manager Tammy Bogels has noticed more shoppers and new faces in the past four to six weeks.


“Sales from a year ago are up by a couple hundred (dollars) a day,’’ she said.


Bogels attributed the increase to the poor economy and expects business to grow more.


“With GM closing and the trickle-down effect of suppliers that aren’t going to be working, the money people have is going to be short,’’ she said.


Circle of Friends Mission Thrift Shoppe, 222 W. Milwaukee St., also has experienced an increase in shoppers.


“Twice as many people are coming through the door compared to a year ago,’’ said Harlin Carey, volunteer manager.


The increase, he said, can be attributed to the poor economy and more people becoming aware of the two-year-old store.


Business is booming at Goodwill Industries store and donation center on Holiday Drive, where sales have increased 24 percent over last year, store manager Brian Schroeder said.


“People are beginning to check out resale just to save money and finding a lot more value in it. With gas and food prices, this is a place where they can save money,” he said.


Consignment shops

Joni Bozart, co-owner of Carousel Consignments, said customer traffic is strong at her South Main Street store.


“The increase in what we’re doing is balanced by lower pricing. We’re definitely seeing the money-savings part of shopping. That’s already showing itself. But are people digging out their valuables to sell to make the bills? No. Not yet,’’ she said.


Home Again Consignment, where shoppers can save at least 60 percent over buying new home furnishings, had its best three months—June, July and August—ever, said Jim Alverson, co-owner.


Up the street, business has been chaotic the past few weeks at J. Promenade Fashionable Consignments that carries designer women’s clothing and accessories in its East Milwaukee Street store.


“I’m seeing an increase in traffic and sales due to the economy,’’ said Leah Price, co-owner. And from last year to this year, people are coming here first to look for the better labels and brands.’’



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