Thrift stores aid price-conscious students in finding quality wares at bargain prices
Published: Thursday, February 13, 2003
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 01:06
Bargains and college students are commonly associated with one another -- where one is found, the other is not far away.
Thrift stores, located around the Ohio State campus, are convenient for students' needs.
"Any shop-smart college student knows you can get a good deal here," said Mirinda Stone, supervisor of all Salvation Army stores within a 65-mile radius of Columbus.
"You can find some really cool, funny or fun stuff for dirt cheap," said Dan Hickman, a senior pursuing a personalized study program. "It's the best place to go for theme party costumes, too."
The college culture draws businesses to the campus area.
"The campus is the main reason we opened our location on North High Street," said Bill Thompson, director of retail operations at Goodwill Columbus.
Thrift shop employees inspect each item for quality and condition before placing it on the sale floor.
The Salvation Army examines and prices each product according to five criteria: quality, condition, size, availability and color, Stone said.
"The item has to be something you can re-sell," said Tom Byerly, director of retail operations at Volunteers of America.
"I've found a few stains and rips, but nothing I couldn't fix," said Julia Rothchild, a sophomore in women's studies. "For the price, it's worth it."
The Ohio Bedding Commission requires thrift stores to follow sanitation codes when preparing furniture for sale. Employees spray the furniture with Sterifab, a sterilization chemical. The commission conducts regular inspections to ensure the stores are complying with the codes, Byerly said.
In addition to the quality of each item, stores set prices based on competition.
"We keep a close eye on other thrift stores in Columbus, just like any other retail venue," Thompson said.
Unlike other thrift stores, Goodwill accepts checks, Mastercard and Visa in hopes of luring more customers, he said.
Buckeye Bargains, founded and run by the University Women's Club, conveniently places itself right on campus in the basement of Converse Hall.
"We try to carry things students need -- bedding, linen, dishes, appliances," said Colleen Houser, a volunteer at Buckeye Bargains and member of the UWC.
Thrift stores throughout the area offer inexpensive, used clothing, furniture, appliances and books through donations generally made by the public.
"Corporation donations are too little to speak of -- 99 percent of the donations come from the public," Thompson said.
Most thrift stores have drop-boxes stationed throughout Columbus and provide a home pick-up service for contributions. Anyone can drop donations off at any thrift store location.
Buckeye Bargains only opens its doors on Wednesdays but accepts donations on Tuesdays as well.
"Most donations come from the University Women's Club members," Houser said. Businesses in the Columbus area donate new merchandise regularly.
Volunteers of America entices the college crowd by offering a 10-percent discount to all customers with a student ID.
The Salvation Army strives to maintain a constant flow of merchandise both in and out of the store.
"We put in 3,000 items at the closing of every day at every location," Stone said. "We try to replace everything in four weeks."
The proceeds from sales usually benefit a charity or organization in the area.
"One hundred percent of the revenues generated go to our main facilities," Thompson said. Goodwill's main facility conducts many programs particularly aimed at job-training.
Volunteers of America utilize their funds to conduct several programs, including drug and alcohol rehabilitation, daily homeless breakfasts, family services and vocational training.
The Salvation Army donates their proceeds to the Adult Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Center in Columbus.
On campus, Buckeye Bargains' profits help fund student scholarships and loan programs.
UWC awarded $25,000 in scholarships last year.