In thrift stores, some shop for price, others for the thrill

Manager Mercedes Petrus, right, assists customer Monica Petrella with a purchase at the Junior League Thrift Shop at 430 N. Main St. in Gainesville on Wednesday, Sept. 18.

Erica Brough/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Monday, October 14, 2013 at 12:25 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, October 14, 2013 at 12:25 p.m.

For Jo Stanley, 64, shopping at thrift stores is a treasure hunt. But when she finds a special item for a fraction of the cost, it's not just fun — it's practical.


Partial list of shops in the area

Flashbacks Recycled Fashion
509 NW 10th Ave., Gainesville
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday
Men's and women's clothing, shoes and jewelry

Monkey Cage Kids
2701 SW College Road, Ocala
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday
Children's clothes, toys, shoes and gear

Persona Vintage Clothing
201 SE 2nd Place, Gainesville
Noon to 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon to 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Women's clothing and some men's clothing, jewelry, cowboy boots, some household goods.

Sandy's Savvy Chic Resale Boutique
4148 NW 13th St., Gainesville
10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday-Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday
Men's and women's clothing, home decor, furniture, shoes, handbags and some jewelry

The Kinsman Tree Upscale Resale Boutique
500 SW 10th St., Ste. 305, Ocala
10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
Women's clothing and some men's clothing, jewelry, shoes, handbags and some home decor.

Winters Past Vintage Boutique
20740 Highway 441 and Avenue E, McIntosh
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday
Women's jewelry and men's accessories, women's clothing, hats, shoes and handbags.

Cecile's Consignment
2131 NW Sixth St., Gainesville
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday
Miscellaneous with large jewelry and furniture selection

Alachua County Humane Society Thrift, Gift and Pet Supply Shop
4205 NW Sixth St., Gainesville
10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Monday-Saturday

Alachua Habitat Resale Store
2317 SW 13th St., Gainesville
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday

Family Treasures Thrift Shop
710 N. Main St., Gainesville
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

Gainesville Community Ministry
5001 NW 34th St., Gainesville
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday

Goodwill Industries Thrift Store
2624 NW 13th St., Gainesville
10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Hospice Attic East
300 NW Eighth Ave., Gainesville
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday

Junior League of Gainesville
430 N. Main St., Suite A, Gainesville
10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday

Outreach Thrift Store
125 NW 23rd Ave., Ste. 5 Gainesville
9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

The Salvation Army Thrift Store
55 NW 23rd Ave., Gainesville
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday

Waldo's Antique Village
17805 NE U.S. Highway 301 Waldo
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily

Stanley stops by her favorite shop, White Elephant in downtown Ocala, at least once a week in search of anything from home decor to garden pieces.

Over the past three years, she's furnished three houses with items she found at the store. She even does her Christmas shopping there. Stanley said she often restores her finds, but she either keeps the finished product or gives it to her children.

She said one of her favorite pieces is an oak dresser she bought for $50. After stripping the piece of its three coats of paint, the dresser is now worth $350.

"It's a very economical way to do it," she said. "And when you can put your own touch on it, to me, it's a fun process."

There's no telling what a determined shopper will find in thrift stores. Some stores specialize; others sell a smorgasborg of merchandise. Either way, a smart shopper will stop by often to see what's new.

Some thrift shops are not-for-profit. Sale proceeds from the Junior League of Gainesville Thrift Shop on North Main Street help fund the group's annual holiday toy drive for underprivileged families with children, a children's reading program and an initiative that promotes healthy eating habits as a way to combat childhood obesity. Manager, Mercedes Petrus, who is getting the store ready for fall and winter merchandise, said the store receives frequent donations of everything from clothing to housewares. Customers snatch up furniture almost as soon as it arrives, she said.

This year the store added a permanent school uniforms section for public school students.

For families with growing children Thrift shops are an affordable option, like Jessica Swearingen, 36, who has three young children ages 4 to 8 years old who are constantly outgrowing their clothing. Swearingen said she has been consigning at Monkey Cage in Ocala for seven years now and has saved as well as made a little money by selling her children's still good hand-me-downs.

"I'll come in and I'll be like 'Ooh let me go see if I have any money,'" she said. "It's like a savings account."

Monkey Cage Kids sells brand-name maternity wear and clothing for newborns to 14-year-olds. The shop, at 2701 SW College Road in Ocala, also sells toys and furniture, including cribs, changing tables, dressers and beds.

For Swearingen, who is one of the store's 6,000 consignors, reselling the gently-used items is her way of giving back to other mothers. She said it feels good knowing she's helping other parents get a good deal.

Persona Vintage Clothing carries independent designers and has an extensive costume collection. To owner Nava Ottenverg, 59, thrift shops are perfect for people who want quality items they can't find anywhere else. She said vintage clothing can last about 10 to 12 years and maybe more depending on how people take care of it.

"The fabrics are so superb to what you can find today," she said. "When people made clothes in the past, they made (them) to last."

White and powder-pink pearls drape a gold display stand at the center of Winters Past Vintage Boutique, where owner, Sheila Winters, has been expanding her collection of antique jewelry for the past 15 years. The boutique, at 20740 Highway 441 and Avenue E in McIntosh, is known for its assortment of jewelry and hats. Some of the items come from estate sales, said Winters, 68.

"It's almost like I feel like somebody needs to adopt them," she said.

Winters said people pick up trinkets that remind them of events from their past.

"Most people leave … wishing that they'd lived in an era where they could have worn hats every day," she said.

Mary Ann Kelley, 65, of McIntosh, said despite the staggering collection, she always finds something appealing. Kelley, who has a theater background, said she decided to check out the store six years ago when her mother told her the shop had the best stuff for costumes. Kelley was visiting the store on a recent Sunday in search of rhinestone earrings, which she found for $10. Then she couldn't help buying a velvet jacket decorated with fringe, she said. The price — $25 — is about half of what she'd expect to pay somewhere else, she said. Kelley said the money she saves is nice, but she mainly goes thrift shopping for fun.

"It's like dress up," she said, "but you can buy it and take it home with you."

On the basis of its sheer volume, it would be hard to overlook Waldo's Antique Village. The stained-glass lamps from Pizza Hut, '70s-esque oval suitcases, Coca-Cola glass bottles, fragile china, religious art and a grandfather clock. Waldo's Antique Village features all of these things and more. The shop, at 17805 NE U.S. Highway 301 in Waldo, has been in business for 21 years. "Most people just like to walk around because it takes you back to grandma's house," said Roseanna Smith, 63, the manager of Waldo's Antique Village. Smith said the items that sell the most are bowls, cups and vases, which she calls "littles" or "bric-a-bracs."

Bobbie Stewart, 39, made the trip from Jacksonville to visit the flea market and the antique shop. The trip was an opportunity to "slow down," Stewart said. If you're looking for anything vintage, this is the spot, she said.

Even the cash register is antique. The 111-year old cash register would be worth more than $1,000 if it were in perfect shape. Multiple people have tried to buy it, but Smith said it's not for sale. It goes with the flea market's atmosphere — aged and irreplaceable.

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