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Shoppers stretch cash at secondhand stores

POSTED: October 19, 2008 5:01 a.m.
Sara Guevara/The Times

A jewelry box sits on a countertop Monday at the Next to New Resale Boutique.

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Local thrift, consignment and pawn shops have seen more traffic, but fewer sales as the economic downturn continues to strain wallets.

"Business is doing OK. We’re getting more people in, but they’re being more careful," said Teressa Glazer, owner of Next to New Resale Boutique at 1705 Cleveland Highway.

Glazer said she has seen more new customers this year than she has in any of the 23 years she’s had the shop.

And people not only are coming in to look for deals on used clothing, but are trying to sell their old clothes.

"If I were buying from everyone who was selling I could’ve filled up a Wal-Mart," she said.

Glazer said she has noticed a lot more young people shopping in her store since the economy worsened.

"A lot of high school kids are discovering it," she said.

Especially with homecoming dances around the corner, many kids are looking to buy second outfits to wear.

She said used baby and maternity items are always in demand as well.

Some people also may be shopping at thrift stores to help those in need.

Margaret Chupp, manager of the Gateway Domestic Violence Center’s Thrift Store, said her business has been doing well and thinks people choose to shop there and donate to the store because they feel they are helping people.

The Gateway Thrift Store, at 1080 Dawsonville Highway, helps victims of domestic violence in two ways. Money from sales is used to fund the center, and people who seek shelter there receive a voucher to go to the store and pick out clothes.

"Not only is it generating revenue, but the donor knows it’s a direct benefit to clients we serve," Chupp said.

Terri Mitchell said she combs thrift stores for deals on clothes and gifts.

"I just love it," said Mitchell, who was looking through dress shoes at Park Avenue Thrift Store in Gainesville. "It’s the thrill of the find."

Mitchell said she has been shopping at thrift stores for 12 years and hasn’t noticed a dramatic increase in the number of fellow shoppers, but thinks many could benefit from checking them out.

"You just have to be a good shopper. ... You never know what you might find," Mitchell said.

Mitchell said she often buys baby clothes and gifts for her grandchildren from thrift stores.

Maria Diaz, who was shopping at the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Gainesville, said she has seen fewer customers there than normal, and said she has been buying less than she did in the past.

Rafael Martinez, manager of El Caribe thrift store in Gainesville, said he has seen fewer Latino customers at his store lately, and people who do come to the store are not buying often.

"They ask for the price, but that’s it," the Martinez said. "They want to buy, but they have no money."

Martinez said he has not needed to buy any new merchandise because he has not been able to sell much.

"If I don’t sell, I don’t buy," he said.

Don Scott, owner of Pawn International in Gainesville, said he also has seen fewer people buying.

"It’s mainly lookers," Scott said. " (People) are doing a lot of loaning and selling and not a lot of buying."

Scott said he is taking a lot of gold and is getting stuck with a lot of tools, because the construction industry is so down.

He also is seeing a variety of people come to his shop.

"We’re getting them all now — blue collar, white collar — it’s not just the average pawn customer now. It’s everybody," Scott said.



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