If you ask most of the students at Collegiate where their favorite place to shop is, they’ll probably name high-end brands such as Urban Outfitters, Free People, Barbour, and Nike. Some of these stores and brands, while stylish, can be incredibly expensive. As a student who makes all of her money from babysitting and a small allowance, I tend to be more thrifty and financially conservative in my shopping choices. So I searched through Richmond with two of my good friends, Morgan Gutenberger (‘16) and Ellie Westermann (‘16), to find the most inexpensive, yet interesting places to shop for clothes. We picked three thrift stores to visit and rated them in four categories: clothing (?), other products (?), price (?), and store vibe (?).
The Clothes Rack Stratford Hills
I have been going to the Clothes Rack for years, and I love it. Every time I walk in there, it never disappoints me. I have purchased favorite sweatshirts, dresses, and more from this store. The first thing we saw when we walked into the Forest Hill Clothes Rack was a large rack full of Christmas sweaters. As three Brunch enthusiasts, with a whistle morning the following weekend, we had hit the jackpot. Immediately, we all selected a few sweaters to try on, each finding a different one that we liked. After that, we browsed the store for other pieces of clothing, looking for nothing in particular.
Any thrift store is going to have an overwhelming amount of eclectic pieces, and organizing them is incredibly hard. The Clothes Rack particularly struggles with this. While there are obvious sections, such as a rack holding approximately 100 pairs of jeans, it was a little overwhelming to not get distracted constantly by the different objects thrown around the room. So we spent less time looking at the abundance of clothing and focused on the miscellaneous objects stacked on a shelf at the end of one wall. This is where we found our second great find of the day, Morgan’s rollerblades. Selecting an old pair of rollerblades off the shelf full of misfit toys, Morgan was elated when she realized the “shoes” were her size. She then promptly went to put them on and roller bladed around the store. She didn’t take them off for the rest of our shopping trip. After feeling content with our search through the store, we payed at the front counter to a nice older couple. They joked around with us and did not judge the large camera around my neck or Morgan’s roller blading. Overall, we bought: three Christmas sweaters, one pair of rollerblades, a furry vest, and a mug. Our total cost was about $20.
?- The Clothes Rack was the least expensive of our three stores.
??- While we bought some great clothes, we barely looked at them while in the store. Their organization is overwhelming and hard to sift through.
???- Their other products absolutely surpassed the other stores. We almost bought a silver plaque with the 10 Commandments on it.
??- We enjoyed The Clothes Rack store as a place to be. It’s bright, with natural lighting, everybody is nice and welcoming, and there’s easy access with a huge parking lot right outside.
Titled as a “second-hand” Goodwill, the Goodwill in Carytown aims to be more fashionable and high-end than a regular thrift store. We immediately got that vibe when we walked in the store. A darkly lit front room full of tall clothes racks and mannequins wearing various outfits is the first thing you see when you walk into the front door. We slowly made our way around the room, occasionally picking up a piece of clothing that interested us. Although we all ended up buying clothing from the store, nothing jumped out at us. We could have as easily breezed through the store and found nothing. This Goodwill is meant for taking time out of your day to look at each item hanging on the rack, something three energized teenagers do not have. Besides clothing, there is a room in the far back dedicated to miscellaneous objects. Unfortunately those objects were outdated dish sets and strange home decor items from the 1950s. After trying on our clothes, Morgan, Ellie, and I made our way to the register. There we were greeted by a seemingly uninterested woman who rang up our purchases. We quickly walked out of the store —well, Morgan rolled—and continued with our search for another thrift store, not disregarding the possibility of shopping at that Goodwill again, but definitely not looking forward to it. Overall purchases: A rain coat, a leather coat, a winter coat, a pair of pants, and a pair of shorts. Our total cost was about $45.
???- This was our most expensive thrift store.
???- While it did have a room for miscellaneous products, this store is clothing-focused, and it definitely shows. We made the most clothing purchases here.
?- After doing one scan around the non-clothing room, we realized that there was nothing of interest and quickly moved on.
?- It is a darkly lit store where customer service seemed bored and disinterested. It completely lacked a welcoming vibe. It’s also in Carytown, so parking is hard to find sometimes.
Hope Thrift Patterson Ave.
Going into Hope Thrift, we were excited. We were met at the door by a sidewalk packed full of various furniture, which is weirdly something we buy fairly often. Then to our dismay, we took a look at some of the price tags. My first thought about Hope Thrift was that it was expensive, which is not what you want to be thinking about a thrift store. Slightly reluctant, we made our way around the store and found… nothing. It isn’t that we didn’t like the blue bowling ball located in the attempted sports section or any of the records stacked in the baskets by the front of the store. Everything was just expensive. By the time I had done one loop around the store, I was ready to leave. However, Morgan’s love for furniture caused her to check out each individual couch in the store.
And that’s when we found it, or, should I say, her. She was plush and blue, unfortunately armless but excitingly a pull out, and we immediately knew she was going to be our next big purchase. We had found Bethany, the $25 couch. We quickly all sat down on her, to show to the other shoppers on the prowl that she was no longer for sale. Next we agreed on who would pay for her. Everything was going great. That is, until we realized we had no way to move her. We had driven in Morgan’s tiny black car (and, for clarification: Yes, Morgan did make me drive her car so she didn’t have to take off her rollerblades). There was no way physically possible to transport Bethany in Morgan’s car. So, while still lying on Bethany, we began calling everybody we knew who had a pickup truck or car large enough to fit Bethany inside of it. After being shot down several times, we seemed out of luck. “Guys, if it’s meant to be, we’ll get her someday. Let’s just leave,” said Ellie. However, Morgan and I refused to give up. Finally, we got a call from Winston Willet (’16), proud driver of an SUV.
Within 20 minutes, he pulled up to the front of Hope Thrift. We officially purchased Bethany, whom we already had in our hearts, and with the help of two Hope Thrift employees, we loaded her up into Winston’s SUV and drove her to her new home. Overall, we just bought Bethany, our new and beloved couch. Our total cost was $25.
??- We give this two, because although we purchased a very cheap couch, it was most likely the most underpriced object in the store.
?- All of the clothes were outdated and not right for a teenager. We didn’t look at the clothes past a few minutes.
???- Everybody in the store was incredibly helpful and nice. When it came time to try to figure out how to fit the couch inside Winston Willet’s car, we had their full attention in getting help strapping it into the back.
All photos by Margaret Davenport.