GJ thrift stores showing uptick in their sales

Shoppers buying used items as economy tightens budgets

A customer at the Goodwill store near Mesa Mall thumbs through the clothes hoping to find a deal

The call for more people to work the cash registers went out at least three times within an hour Tuesday at the Goodwill Industries store in Grand Junction. The parking lot was nearly full. Lines were long.

Store officials say it’s partly because of a steady increase in business since the store opened at 630 24 1/2 Road in June 2007.

They also say the crunched economy has something to do with it.

It’s economical, said Som Chan, 32, who is studying to be a nurse at Mesa State College. She was visiting the store for the first time.

“The name of Goodwill and the price attracted me here today,” Chan said. “I’m here to find a yoga outfit for my class at Mesa State. What they cost at sports stores is more than I can afford as a student. I didn’t expect it to be this busy, to be honest.”

Beyond pinching pennies because of college, there’s been a noticeable influx of thrift-store shoppers in recent weeks.

Nationwide, thrift stores reported sales increases of anywhere from 6 percent to 15 percent. Officials at the store in Grand Junction hesitated to reveal what kind of increases it has seen this year because the number of shoppers has risen steadily since the store opened last year.

They did report, however, last week’s count of 3,590 shoppers was up from the previous week’s 3,334 shoppers, going from an average of 476 shoppers a day to 512.

“It’s difficult to judge what percentage is because of the economy and what percentage is because of growth,” store manager Rick Morgan said. “We’ve consistently been ramping up.”

The Salvation Army’s thrift store at 1038 Ute Ave. in Grand Junction has seen a 15 percent to 20 percent spike in sales, according to Maj. Alfred Parker, director. He attributes much of the increase, however, to the recent departure of the Habitat for Humanity store from their neighborhood.

Store associates at the Grand Junction Rescue Mission store, 2962 North Ave., said they have seen slight increases in sales during the last few months.

“There may be an increase with more people coming in as things tighten up, but it’s not much,” said Keith Bradley, director and founder of the mission.

The inventories that are coming in from donors are holding steady, Morgan said.

“I was concerned about that going down,” he said.

The Encore Shoppe & Gallery, at 2493 U.S. Highway 6&50 in the Cottonwood Mall, reports its consignments are up at least 30 percent to 35 percent, said owner Mandy Barnes.

“It’s because people are making more conscious decisions about how they use their money,” Barnes said. “If they bring their used goods in here and get some money for them, it works to their advantage.

I’ve heard often, when people come in and get paid out, them saying, ‘Oh, now I can go to the movies,’ or, ‘Now, I can get my gas tank filled,’ or, ‘Now, I can go to a nice lunch.’ It’s more like free money for them.”

The donations to Heirlooms for Hospice is seeing a greater quality of donations.

“As far as clothes, those are the same, but the last couple of weeks, we’ve gotten in some beautiful furniture,” said store employee Barbara Hansen. “I’m hearing a lot about people moving or just re-doing their homes, which you don’t think about with the economy. But it’s still happening for some people.”

Katrina Hammond, 44, was walking out of Goodwill this week with a large bag in hand.

“I’ve done this all my life,” she said.

“There was a time I thought it was awful. That was when I was a teenager. But I got over that, and I love it. My kids love it. They get something from the store here every time.”


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