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Holiday Thrift Shop Sales Soar as Economy Slumps

Black Voices News.com, News Report, Chris Levister Posted: Jan 05, 2009

Should a vintage Holiday African-American Barbie doll missing one of her glittering slippers be forgotten? No way Its a steal says Andre Ammons. Ammons, a single father with three girls, knows a bargain when he sees one. On Christmas Eve the San Bernardino single father while rummaging through boxes of $5.00 shoes, shirts and pants, $3.00 video games and $12.00 brand name toys grabbed the makings of a dream.

This is for Mika. She dreamed of getting a Black Barbie doll, said Ammons wiping back tears. A collectors Black Barbie doll which can cost up to $200.00 on E-Bay - $6.00 at the local Goodwill.

When she sees this beauty under the tree shes gonna go bonkers, he said. Well probably order a new slipper on E-Bay for twice the cost of what I paid for her. Ammons says he borrowed $25.00 from a friend to buy gifts for his girls ages 4 through 8. Someones throwaway will bring a lot of joy to my little girls. Im just thankful for the hand me downs, he said.

With holiday cash tighter than a pair of spandex pants these days, shoppers are still scouring the shelves and racks for name brands. But instead of heading to Macys, Target, and Toy R Us for the latest seasons buys, theyre looking for past years leftovers at local Goodwill, Salvation Army and consignment thrift stores.

Sales are up at resale shops nationwide. Goodwill has seen an 11% run up in retail sales for the first 8 months of 2008 versus the same period in 2007. According to the National Association of Resale & Thrift Shops, 62.5% of its members are reporting record sales this holiday.

People are hurting, but they still want to buy gifts says Awatif Eljack manager of Project Safe Thrift.

Organizations such as Goodwill, The Salvation Army and Out of the Closet (a chain of thrift stores) have increased their sales by becoming a beacon of hope to thousands of families hit by the one of the worse economic downturns in U.S. history.

Faced with higher costs, unemployment and anxiety, people are looking for ways to stretch their dollars and bring a little sparkle and cheer to their Christmas festivities, says Jonathan Keuger, general manager of Out of the Closet, who operates 18 locations, and have an estimated one million customers a year.

Price slashing failed to rescue a bleak holiday season for beleaguered big retailers. In contrast new name-branded sneakers that sold at Macys for $100 last year sold for a discounted $15 dollars at The Salvation Army store in Riverside. The shoes were donated by a local chain shoe store said a store employee.

At the rear entrance to the Goodwill on Waterman Avenue in San Bernardino, Carolyn Ellis dropped off a large plastic bag of clothes and toys. Everybody loves a bargain, thats why I just spent $56.00 on Christmas gifts here yesterday, she said.

But just as the sales at thrifts rise donations are falling. The recent downturn has meant that people are keeping their used items longer so we are seeing fewer donations to our thrifts and family stores, said Major George Hood, spokesman for The Salvation Army.

Shopping might be up, but donations at many urban locations are down by 20% this year, Hood says. But donations arent down everywhere, Goodwill reports donations are up by 10% in 2008.

Hood worries if donations remain flat, This means that we have fewer items to sell and therefore less funding for our life changing programs.

If you are willing to dig, thrifts are a Godsend, said Andre Ammons. I found very good things at crazy prices I would otherwise not be able to buy because of the economic situation. This photo of fifteen year old Barack Obama, $9.00 it doesnt get any better baby, he gushed this is history. This is a real blessing.

Related Articles:

In Bad Economy, Thrift Shop Sales Up

The New Thrift Store -- Good Will or Greed?

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