The thrill of the find
Denise Banks held up a silk brown shirt with a white bow at Pass It On Thrift in Tahoe City Monday, examining the frock with a discriminating eye.
“This would be $100 anywhere else,” Banks said.
The Tahoe City resident said she shops at thrift stores because she doesn’t like to buy new clothes from stores that may exploit workers from Third World countries. And she enjoys the thrill of the find.
“The other really cool thing about thrift stores is that people give away items they handmade,” Banks said as she points to a handmade kimono-type shirt. “Look at the stitches. This probably took a thousand hours. You can’t find that anywhere else.”
Banks is just one among legions of shoppers turning to thrift and consignment stores to find quality clothing and homewares at low costs.
Christine McCann, manager of the Tahoe Forest Hospice Thrift Store in Truckee, Kings Beach and Incline Village, said there is a growing group of “thrift store junkies” who make an effort to shop in every thrift store in every town they visit.
“We’re getting a following of people who have heard of us and they stop in when they come to town,” McCann said. “It’s contagious.”
Thrift stores rely on donations from the community to thrive ” items which can vary in quality ” but local thrift store owners and managers say the Tahoe/Truckee community is very generous in its donations, especially with winter gear.
“We get a lot of good winter stuff because there’s a lot of good winter people,” said Heather Solomon, owner of Pass It On Thrift in Tahoe City.
Tahoma resident Elani Malone said she noticed a Burton ski jacket similar to one she bought last season for more than $200. At the thrift store this year, the jacket is priced at $25.
“I feel like I got ripped off,” Malone said. “Sometimes the clothes that you want are too expensive and you can come here and find a good deal.”
Various consignment stores are also abundant in Tahoe, including the winter gear store 9 Lives in Tahoe City.
“We wanted to do something different and we found our niche,” said Andrew Laughlin, owner of 9 Lives, which will be open for its fourth winter this year. “There is a need for it.”
Unlike thrift stores, consignment stores pay for the goods the community brings in and then charge slightly higher prices. But Laughlin explained that his store gets extra gear from local professional skiers and sales reps, and marks down the prices.
“Anything you need for winter sports, we have it,” Laughlin said, adding that the store carries snowboards, cross country and downhill skis, snowshoes and winter apparel. “Our biggest customer base is families and seasonal workers who don’t make a lot.”