Thrift stores boom in tough economic times

Goodwill stores have seen at least 10 percent sales increases compared with October 2007.

Cash registers are ringing a little louder at area thrift stores. As the economy declines, thrift stores such as Goodwill Industries International , Savers and Everyday People Clothing Exchange are seeing a rise in sales for secondhand goods. While other businesses are reporting decreasing sales, Goodwill stores have seen at least 10 percent increases in same-store retail sales compared with October 2007, Goodwill Industries International spokeswoman Lauren Lawson said. âÄúWeâÄôve noticed an increase in retail,âÄù Lawson said. âÄúMany agencies are reporting new stores across the country.âÄù So far, the economy has not hurt donations, Lawson said. For the first nine months of the year, the number of donation drop-offs in North America increased by 9.6 percent over the same time period last year. âÄúWe tell customers to donate often and shop often since youâÄôre putting people in work,âÄù Lawson said. Lawson said increasingly more people are holding onto their items, but said she hopes people want to still donate. Co-owner of DinkytownâÄôs Everyday People Kitty VanHofwegen said January and February are usually slow months for business. However, she said this year those months have been busier than before. âÄúPeople still want to dress in cute outfits and not spend a lot of money,âÄù she said. âÄúWe look for popular brands that people want.âÄù Production supervisor Jeff Erickson has worked at the Savers in Northeast Minneapolis for two years. During this time, he said he has seen an âÄúupturn in traffic.âÄù âÄúEveryoneâÄôs feeling the crunch and there are people that are going to find deals,âÄù Erickson said. âÄúWhen you can find a pair of jeans for $7 compared to a pair of $40 jeans off the rack at KohlâÄôs , itâÄôs a great value.âÄù First-year chemistry major Alli Blonski said she shops at Goodwill once a month. She said she looks for clothes that are âÄúcute and fashionable.âÄù âÄúThe clothes are of really good value,âÄù Blonski said. âÄúYou can find brand name clothes for very cheap.âÄù But she is more conscious when it comes to her spending habits. âÄúIâÄôm more aware of how I am spending my money,âÄù Blonski said. âÄúIâÄôm definitely more likely to think twice about it.âÄù According to AmericaâÄôs Research Group , a consumer research firm, about 16 to 18 percent of Americans will shop at a thrift store during a given year. For consignment and resale shops, it is about 12 to 15 percent.