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Thrift stores offer holiday deals for savvy shoppers, low-income families
Stores aim to help families find savings
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Rose Johnson looks through shirts at Park Avenue Thrift in Gainesville on Wednesday. More than 20,000 items are put out on the racks each week for customers to pick through. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Sandy Phelps has a tradition all her own this holiday season, and it was on full display at Park Avenue Thrift in Gainesville this week.

While walking the store’s aisles, Phelps said she likes to buy holiday ornaments and those “ugly” Christmas sweaters from local thrift stores and repurpose them for party gifts or sell them for a profit on EBay.

“It’s just a fun hobby,” she said.

But Phelps’ clever spin on the holiday sales season reveals just how important thrift stores are for savvy shoppers and low-income families hoping to have a very merry Christmas.

And that’s just the message that Tony Rosario and Olivia Lopez, who manage Park Avenue Thrift, want to spread.

The store is offering coupons and 50 percent discounts all weekend on clothes, ornaments and other knickknacks, with special deals for senior shoppers.

For Carol Rodriguez, a Gainesville resident shopping this week at Park Avenue with her three daughters, the Christmas decorations available at local thrift shops are a major draw.

“You can find great deals on trees and lights,” she said.

Norma Pullen manages the Main Street Mission Thrift Store in Gainesville’s industrial area.

The location makes it a good place to shop for residents in the neighborhood, particularly Latino and immigrant families, because of its proximity to a city bus station and cheap deals.

Meanwhile, the Gateway House thrift stores in Gainesville are offering coupons this holiday season, and the location on Dawsonville Highway reopened earlier this month after remodeling and restocking the store.

Proceeds from sales at these stores benefit the Gateway Domestic Violence Center.

That means shopping at local thrift stores can be both good for the small-business economy while also supporting local nonprofits.

It’s a win-win in Rosario’s eyes.

“We want to help families in need find savings,” he said.   

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