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On a Budget

Compiled by Kirsteen Wolf

The Broadside

Many, after all the news reports of the last two years, would rather eat a bowl of lug nuts than hear the words “tough economic times” again. Students traditionally live on a tight budget and know what it means to make a dollar stretch long before the “Great Recession.”  Parents going back to school can feel their bank account squeeze when they have growing kids to clothe and trying to shop for professional clothes on a shoestring can be a challenge. It makes sense to learn to navigate our local thrift stores.

Some loathe the thought of wearing used clothes or buying used furniture or they look down on the clientele. Every kind of person goes to a thrift store. You’ll see all types of cars in the parking lot and people of all ages exiting the shop with smart purchases. Go with a friend, try it out and get hooked for life. Thrift shopping can be a good kind of addictive.

Getting started

If you’re new to thrift store shopping you may feel uncertain where to go or, once in the shop, where to look. It’s a unique adventure every time and surprises wait in different sections on different days.

Shopping thrift stores isn’t about fishing around in giant, sketchy bins for those elusive brand-name finds, although those “no frills” places do exist; the prices are usually rock bottom along with the quality. Staring into those stuffed barrels of random clothes can make the most stoic of us queasy wondering where those clothes have been. It’s unsettling.

Bend is different. We have clean and organized shops here that are doing good works for the community. Shopping thrift in Bend is a win-win for shoppers and organizations. The Humane Society, The Opportunity Foundation, Bend’s Community Center and The Sunriver Nature Center all benefit from their thrift stores. You can feel good about shopping. Your money is going to a good cause.

Walk into the store and look around. It may take you a few visits to perfect your hunting style and to get used to the store. Different people notice different things in each shop.

If you are goal oriented, you should be able to reduce your time to twenty minutes: locate, try on, buy. Many shoppers make a stop at their favorite shop part of a regular routine: Monday morning mug of coffee and a breeze through the store for a quick check.

The quick routine is effective and efficient but there is something to be said for the slow, careful peruse through a few shops on a lazy day. Don’t go with a detailed shopping list. Pour over the racks of clothes, the arts and crafts, the shelves of kitchen gadgets and enjoy all the colors and knick knacks. The turquoise suede and sheer sleeve beaded shirt is one of a kind so enjoy it even though you would never, ever buy it. Shake the snow globes, check out the CDs, flip through the framed art and the books and marvel at the candles that look like asparagus.

We’re fortunate to have such good thrift shops. You could pick up something special for cheaper than an iced mocha and be doing your community good at the same time. That’s not a bad deal.

Tips for Thrift Store shopping

 

Be willing to sew on a button.

Amazing quality items get donated because someone couldn’t be bothered to do a simple repair. While it would not be wise to buy a pair of jeans for $7 that needed a new zipper, a button or a stitch under an arm could net you’re a perfect item for a few dollars.

Look closely.

Watch out for the dreaded stain. Give everything you are considering a good “once over” so you are not disappointed when you get home. Check labels for cleaning instructions. Many “dry clean only” can be gently washed at home. While linen shirts are beautiful, they almost always need to be ironed. Consider what kind of maintenance you are willing to put up with.

Get good at sorting through items.

When you step up to the racks of shirts, don’t separate each one and look it over individually. Run your hand along the tops of the hangers so you can see the fabric, patterns and color of the shirts. If one catches your eye, pull it out and decide. Most shops have their clothing divided up by size but it is still worth it to take a quick peek in other sizes for items that went astray.

Try everything on.

This is a must. There is a tendency with bargain shopping to ignore the fit because of the cheap price. Whether the item is $50 or $5, only buy it if you’ll really wear it, you like it a lot and it is comfortable. Many shoppers fall into a homogeneous rut when they don’t try clothes on. Closets tend to all have the same color or style because they’re a safe bet. Trying on the clothes to be sure they look good on you will help you take a risk on a new look. Most stores have change rooms.

Don’t over buy

It seems so un-American to say that. Affordable goods can still clog up your closet or shelf. Keep checking in to the stores rather than buying a big load that you’ll only use half of.

More than clothes

There’s furniture, jewelry, home décor, kitchen goods, books, art supplies, linens, kid’s toys, pet supplies, sports equipment, electronics and holiday goods at many thrift stores. A student can furnish an apartment for a fraction of new and the cool, vintage and unique products make a home one of a kind. Stock your camping supplies with pots, pans, cups and cutlery from the kitchen section.

Donate

When it’s time for spring cleaning or you are graduating and moving on, donate to the thrift stores. Encourage friends to pack up their gently used gems and bring them by the shops.

Things to not buy used

Underwear.

Shoes should be close-to-new for the sake of your feet. Some shoes have plenty of life in them but need a $10 shoe repair. Try them on and be fussy about the fit.

Cosmetics: unless an item hasn’t been opened, steer clear.

Be careful purchasing electronics, light fixtures and small appliances. Usually everything is tested to make sure it works. That being said, at most thrift stores, all sales are final.

Bend Thrift Stores

 

Bend Community Thrift Store

184 NE Franklin Ave

Bend OR

541-312-9567

The shop went through a major renovation in April and it shows. It’s clean and well organized and packed with product. The stock rotation is quite high so it would pay to visit this shop on a regular basis. There’s a huge room in the front for men, women and children’s clothes, a section in the middle for kitchen, toys and home décor and then another room for electronics.

The Thrift Store benefits Bend’s Community Center which feeds 1000 per week. The shop is run by a dedicated staff of employees, job trainees and volunteers.

One of the organization’s goals is to keep thousands of pounds of unusable donation out of the landfill. Their warehouse bales items that haven’t sold for a recycle company in Seattle.

Bend Humane Society Thrift Store

500 N.E. Greenwood Ave.
Bend, OR 97701
(541)388-3448

This busy shop packs in a lot of clothes, sports, books , art, jewelry and kitchen supplies and is always well organized and clean. The stock is constantly changing over and typically every other Sunday is a 50 percent off sale. As the name suggests,100 percent of  the store’s profit goes to the Human Society of Bend.

Manager Liz Wunder is an animal lover which makes her fast- paced job even more meaningful. The stock rotates so quickly that everyday there is staff in the back room tagging hundreds of new items a day.

“We sell 3000 books a month,” she said.

Opportunity Foundation Possibilities Thrift Store

275 N.E. 2nd St.
Bend, OR 97701
(541)389-0129

Bend Opportunity Foundation Thrift Store
275 NE 2nd, Bend, OR 97701
(541) 389-0129

Redmond Opportunity Foundation Thrift Store
811 SW Evergreen, Redmond, OR 97756

541) 548-5288

Madras Opportunity Foundation Thrift Store
1412 SW Hwy 97, Madras, OR 97741
(541) 475-6961

The Bend store has racks and racks of clothes and shelves of shoes in the main room. There is also another room that houses furniture, linens and household items. As you can see when you drive by the side of the building, the donations keep coming in. Keep coming by and check out their fantastic price on shoes: adults, $4-$6; children, $2-$4.

The store is run by the Opportunity Foundation of Central Oregon which provides vocational training for people with disabilities. The customer service is great!

Once Lost, Now Found Resale Shop

365 NE Greenwood Ave.

Suite #3

Bend, Or.

97701

541-788-7244 or 541-419-3654

The new owners took over the shop in May. As a former doctor’s office, the lay out is fun, with small rooms off hallways filled with clean and well cared for products. Tricia Hanson, who co-runs the store is trying to keep prices reasonable and the quality high.

“We’re trying really hard to concentrate on really nice things,” she said.

Hanson also said that although they only have one non-profit lined up to receive portions of the shops profits, she hopes that supporting community programs is part of the shop’s future.

Goodwill

Goodwill in Bend is a clean, well -run store. There are so many racks and shelves that it can get overwhelming. With focus, head to a section and use your thrift shopping skills to find exactly what you are looking for. The selection is phenomenal although the prices are often higher than that of the others in town.

According to their website, Goodwill allots 84 percent of their staggering revenue back into programs that help remove barriers to opportunity for veterans, people with disabilities, immigrants, seniors, youth and people with criminal backgrounds.

Second Tern thrift Shop

17377 Spring River Road

Sunriver, OR 97707

541- 593-3367

Typically only open Friday and Saturday, 10:00-3:00.

According to their website, over half of the general funds for The Sunriver Nature Center come from The Second Tern. The nature center’s mission is to “inspire present and future generations to cherish and understand our natural world.” The Sunriver Nature Center also has an observatory and host winter and summer evening sky gazing programs.

http://www.sunrivernaturecenter.org/

***

Typical Prices for Thrift Shops*:

Shirts $3-$10

Pants-$3-$10

Dress-$7

Shoes; $5-$14

Kids clothes range from $1-$6 for shirts, shoes and shirts.

*Some brand name items are more than quoted here. Each item is considered separately.

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