Thrifty spender

Second-hand clothing is the solution for students looking to add flare to their wardrobe.

From trendy labels to funky retro, it can all be found in the various Tampa bay area second-hand stores.

There are two different types of second-hand clothing stores — thrift and consignment. Each has good points and each has its failings. These differences are only guideline; not all thrift shop clothes are low-priced, and not all consignment stores have high standards.

In thrift, there are great deals to be found. Finding a great deal in a thrift shop is like discovering pottery on an archeological dig– sift. Through the useless a treasure can often be found. A half an hour of looking through the moth-eaten and neglected can yield a funky Army jacket, a respectable business suit and a skirt from The Limited — all for less than $20.

It’s possible to leave a thrift store empty-handed. But returning another day could be worthwhile because thrift stores replenish stock according to donations.

Consignment stores accept or reject clothing from those who want to sell their old clothing. The profit of the sale is split between the seller and the consignment store. Consignment is generally more expensive than thrift but makes up for it by having higher standards. Sometimes the clothes at consignment shops have never been worn and still have the tags from the original purchase. Clothes are clean in consignment. They aren’t torn, stained or missing buttons. Cheap retro, unfortunately, is hard to find in consignment.

Best Thrift, Inc.

Those willing to sift through clothes for a great deal should head to Best Thrift Inc., located on Busch Boulevard in a shopping center containing a bingo hall, a flea market and a shop selling imported Egyptian furniture. The prices for clothing varied widely. Skirts, for example, range from $1 to $10. Check any potential purchase for flaws.

Salvation Army and Goodwill

No thrift store shopping would be complete without a visit to the two classic destinations in any city: the Salvation Army and Goodwill.

“At the Salvation Army I found a pair of barely worn American Eagle shoes at $5.” said Siobhan Winick, a USF art student. “I have the same pair at home, but I paid $30 at the mall.”

Winick periodically uses strange and nostalgic items often found at Salvation Army and Goodwill for her art projects. Both Goodwill and the Salvation Army have fixed pricing for types of clothing — all

T-shirts go for a particular price, all blouses go for another price and so on. It is recommended that thrift shoppers should stick to the fixed prices at the Salvation Army. The higher quality items are far too overpriced. The Goodwill on Hillsborough Avenue. is definitely worth a visit for any serious thrift shopper. Slightly higher prices in the “Better Quality” section are worthwhile. Brand names like Tommy Hilfiger, Ann Taylor and the Gap can all be found at second-hand prices.

Second Image

The thrift shop Second Image on the corner of Armenia and Kennedy boulevards has some of the highest quality thrift in Tampa. The prices are often comparable to Goodwill, but the atmosphere and quality beats most Tampa thrift. The color-ordered racks and nostalgic atmosphere lends Second Image a feel less frantic than some of the other the warehouse-like thrift stores.

Pendy’s Consignment

Pendy’s Consignment is a mere five-minute drive from USF. It can be found on 56th Street in a shopping plaza across the street from Bank Atlantic. Most single pieces range from $5 to about $12. Items with original tags usually cost a little more. Clothing and dresses start at about $20. The owner, Linda Overholt, makes up a large part of her business and it’s understandable why. The prices are reasonable and the quality is excellent. Overholt said being strictly consignment has advantages.

“We’re always fussy about the things we take in,” she said.

By no means is this a complete list of all the area thrift and consignment stores. There are plenty more listed in the phone book. Anyone who wants to get to know the Tampa area should take a weekend going to as many area thrift and consignment stores as possible. Shopping at Goodwill, Salvation Army and church-affiliated thrift shops also benefits the needy.