Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thrift Store Madness

Labor Day was a Monday holiday, and like a lot of recent Monday holidays, I celebrated the holiday at the Unique Thrift Store half off sale, which they do every Monday holiday.

Now, I didn't get up before the crack of dawn and go stand in line for an hour (or more) before they opened, although I did do that once. I've since realized that they keep restocking all day long, so if I miss out on something, there will be something else to take its place. Besides, if you don't know you missed out on it, did you really miss anything?

I have shopped at the Uniques ever since I came to Louisville, over 20 (!) years ago. One of my earliest purchases there was a black London Fog vintage trench style overcoat/raincoat that I bought for five bucks. I just loved it and wore it everywhere, until Christmas, when my brother talked me out of it.

If it hs ever existed, you can eventually find it at Unique. This I truly believe. Especially at the older store, which is in this old warehouse in one of the poorer parts of town. Shopping there is an amazing experience, which is not to be missed in my book. One time when my brother spent a weekend her and he wanted to do "Louisville things" one of the places I took him was Unique, where I ran into a co-worker and her husband who were shopping for outfits for work.

I've seen a lot of complaining in some online forums that the prices at Unique are high for a thrift, and to an extent that's true. They certainly are much higher than they used to be, but they're by no means outrageous. It's still more than possible to find several good bargains there in a short visit.

For resale purposes, I do have to rely on the half price day to be able to put stuff in my booth and make a profit, but for ordinary thrifting, Unique is more than worth a visit. In the pre-booth days, I'd make a list of thrift stores in town and Keith and I would visit them as a part of the celebration. The Uniques were always on the list.

Part of the fun of a Unique visit is wandering through the furniture and large items (and the nick nacks) and seeing what turns up. I've seen antique wheelchairs and prams in there, and once saw a really old prosthetic leg.

One of the reasons people try to get there before the doors open on the sale days is to get a cart. There just are not enough carts in the store to accommodate everyone. Carrying a lot of stuff in your arms just isn't practical. People will wait by the registers to get a cart from someone checking out. On Labor Day, I spent about half an hour doing that myself. Only at Unique. Other things I have tried include getting large bags from the luggage and purse sections to carry stuff around the store. I've not gone so far as to bring my own cart, but it's not uncommon to see that on the half proce day.

The second Unique is in a former store, so it doesn't have the atmosphere of the older one, which takes away from the experience a bit. The prices there seem to be a little lower on some things as well. It's still awfully hard to get a cart there on sale days, though.

On Labor Day at the older store, a customer called the Fire Marshall to complain about the crowds. That led to a line at the door and one person being let in for each one coming out. That's the way it was when I got there. I didn't have to wait in line too long, and we could stay in there as long as we wanted. Surprisingly for the crowd control measures, it was still pretty crazy inside. I still had to avoid several aisles for the people in them, and still had to wait in line quite a while to check out.

My favorite places to check out at Unique are the racks of smaller items that they've placed in bags. You can find some real bargains there almost all the time, and on Half Price Days, it's even better. I'm a fan of bagging up set of items for my booth, so I like this approach to selling. I also like to buy someone else's set and break it down into smaller sets for resale. You can do a lot with a baggie full of toys or magnets or whatever.

Labor Day yielded some good finds for me. I got some Halloween costume items and decor to sell, some odd nick nacks, a new hoodie for me, and of course lots of bagged sets. I'll put some pics up sometime soon.

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