Thrift stores a cheaper way to update your wardrobe

Thrift stores a cheaper way to update your wardrobe

While college students’ expenses for textbooks and rent can be pricey, the pressure to wear trendy new outfits on weekends only stretches the bill. 

For many students, shopping secondhand is the solution to balancing limited funds and an updated wardrobe. Fortunately, Pittsburgh has plenty to offer when it comes to resale stores.

Resale stores allow students to sell or donate their clothes, while also  de-cluttering their closets and making money. There are three different kinds of resale stores — four, if garage sales count — thrift stores, resale stores and consignment shops.

Thrift stores include stores such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army. At thrift stores, customers donate gently used items, and all the store’s profits from merchandise benefit a charity.

Thriftique, owned by the National Council of Jewish Women, is a thrift store on Church Street in Swissvale that offers items from furniture and paintings to men’s and women’s clothing.

The council also owns Designer Days Boutique in Squirrel Hill. Designer Days is an “upscale consignment store that caters mostly to women,” according to the store’s website.

To sell merchandise on consignment means that if and when a seller’s items are sold he or she gets a percentage of the profit and the store gets a percentage. Consignments on Centre, located across from the Giant Eagle Market District on Centre Avenue, gives North Oakland residents opportunities to make money as well.

According to store employees, thrift stores like Thriftique always have people coming in looking to make money or spend it.

Jon Brunetti works at Thriftique, unloading the donations from the trucks into the store.

“We always have some kind of sale going on,” Brunetti said.

There are also resale stores with inventories comprised of merchandise purchased from individuals. Clothes Minded on Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield is a resale store. Other stores include Avalon Exchange on Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill and Hey Betty! and Eons Fashion Antique on Ellsworth Avenue in Shadyside.

Josh Fedorski, owner of Clothes Minded, said his store gets all of its inventory from the public. Fedorski said the shop purchases items based on season, style, condition, brand and store need.

Clothes Minded sells brands from higher-end to low-priced, from Chanel, Prada and Louis Vuitton to American Apparel, Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom and H&M. Clothes Minded offers sellers 30 percent of the resale price or 45 percent in-store credit for their items.

“The merchandise in here is lower than our competitors’ prices and we always have a $2 rack and everyday there are set color tags marked at half off so there are plenty of deals,” Fedorski said in an email.

Avalon Exchange purchases all of their merchandise from individual sellers, according to Danny Gurwin, assistant store manager. Avalon Exchange buys and sells brands like Marc Jacobs and Chanel, as well as vintage items without labels.

At Avalon Exchange, an outdated Marc Jacobs handbag would sell for $80 to $90, and an in-season Marc Jacobs bag would sell for at least $1000, Gurwin said. Price estimates are available only in-person or over the phone.

Avalon Exchange has two sales each year during which, Gurwin said, items can cost as little as $1.

Chris Hunter said she also loves shopping at Avalon Exchange. She said because Avalon is more selective when it comes to merchandise, she has more luck thrifting there.

“They have more unique things than the average thrift store,” Hunter, a senior architectural studies major, said.

For Hunter, an open mind is essential for thrifting. Instead of copying outfits straight from places like Urban Outfitters, Hunter tries to create comparable outfits for half the price at thrift stores. 

The best deal Hunter has found while shopping secondhand is a pair of Dr. Martens for $14 at a Plato’s Closet in Greensburg. Pittsburgh is also home to a Plato’s Closet on McKnight Road in Ross Township.

Rosana Guernica frequently buys and sells at resale stores. Guernica, a sophomore decision science and business major at CMU, said that the coolest item she has encountered while thrifting in Pittsburgh was a golf club from the early 1900s at Crown Antiques in Downtown on sale for $500.

“I never go to the same store twice,” Guernica said while shopping at Avalon Exchange.