Although your favorite bargain blogger focuses almost exclusively on the Austin area, she loves thrift stores no matter their location. Two of Fort Worth’s finest – Hope’s Resale and Upscale Resale – not only are lovely thrift stores in their own right but the monies they generate support Community Restore, which works to keep northeast Tarrant County kids in school when their families face a crisis. Imagine your Diva of Discount’s outrage when she read that the agency’s 26 foot box truck had been stolen right off Community Restore property and driven through its locked fence! The truck is vital to delivering donations to the stores and supplies to families in need. With no way to replace the truck the agency turned to the media for help and within a week, the truck was located just a few miles away. Three cheers for Community Restore and their supporters.
So with that happy ending, let’s turn to Austin’s own angels of academic assistance – The Assistance League of Austin’s Thrift House at Burnet and 49th Street. If you want your shopping to put points in your karma account as well as couture in your closet, this is the place to go. The Thriftstress hardly knows where to begin – does she start with the 400+ volunteers who raised $600,000 last year, the incredible programs that these dollars support, or the fabulous finds that can be had on each and every visit.
Let’s start with shop talk, shall we? Thrift House is upscale retail…and it says so right on the door to the spacious and nicely laid out store. Someone looking to furnish their apartment or outfit a family on the cheap will likely do better elsewhere but for those looking for great quality, pre-owned clothes and house-wares at second hand prices, well, let’s just say that more dealers shop at Thrift House than anywhere else in town.
The Thriftstress is embarrassed to admit it – she knows better – but she hesitated on a darling hallway table priced at just $18 and it was long gone on her next visit. Let this be a lesson to all of us…if you want it; get it! On her most recent visit the Thrifty Snicker found a top quality duvet cover and shams for $22, an Ellen Tracy jacket for $20 and a Royal Dalton serving set also priced at $20. The piece de resistance was the Nathan Anthony bounce ottoman and pillow for $275 – the ottoman alone retails at almost $1,800!
Women’s clothing is sorted by size and type and there’s almost always a featured display – maybe cashmere pieces or golf attire – to tempt the bargain hunter. Your Thriftstress was able to indulge her inner cougar (oh, get your mind out of the gutter!) with a terrific display of animal prints. Chico’s and Coldwater Creek figure predominately and if you sign up for the Thrift House weekly newsletter, you’ll be the first to know when a new batch arrives. Check out their great website at http://www.alaustin.org.
Nice handbags, shoes, scarves and jewelry are plentiful and worth browsing. But be smart – most of the merchandise is reasonably priced but a few things hovered very close to retail. As of this post, summer clothes are on sale.
The store has a modest children’s section and clothes and shoes for men. They even have a “sports shop” in the corner if you need to pick up a UT golf shirt or A&M t-shirt for the game. Don’t overlook the craft corner as Thrift House consistently has the largest selection of arts and crafts items, wrapping paper and gift bags, and sewing material of any local thrift store. House-wares lean more towards serving and decorative pieces and seem a little pricey. Although they typically don’t last long, there’s always a selection of nice furniture, home décor and seasonable holiday decorations. Thrift House’s Christmas sale is not to be missed!
As befits her celebrity status, the Thrifty Snicker got a behind the scenes tour thanks to volunteers Cathy, Leila and the irrepressible Patti. Did the Snicker mention that this operation is run entirely by volunteers – some 400 of ‘em, many of them retired educators? But don’t let these sweeties fool you; this formidable outfit owns the building and almost 100% of sales go right into programs benefiting the community. Thrift House’s flagship program is Operation School Bell. Local school counselors and social workers refer families who need extra assistance and when they visit each child is matched with an Assistance League “personal shopper” who helps them select brand new outfits in keeping with their school’s uniform policy. Kiddos leave with tops, bottoms, underwear, shoes, a jacket, a backpack and a personal hygiene kit. Teens go with their personal shopper to local stores in order to choose from a wider clothing selection. 4,000 children were served in 2012 alone!
In addition to the section of the building that houses Operation School Bell, there’s a large sorting area, meeting space, storage for out-of-season clothes and house-wares, and a toy section to stock the toy cart at Dell Children’s Medical Center. It was all your Thriftstress could do not to sign up to become a volunteer right then and there.
Thrift House supports several other fabulous programs but the one nearest to the Snicker’s heart is the assault survivor kits stocked at St. David’s hospital for victims of assault whose clothing isn’t wearable or has to be left with the police. The Snicker hopes that Thrift House gives serious consideration to expanding this service to other area hospitals that serve victims of sexual assault.
Be a part of the fun and philanthropy! Visit the website to learn more about Assistance League programs and volunteer opportunities. Plan a shopping trip and start going through closets for donations. Thrift House is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 to 4:30 and is the perfect first stop on a Burnet Road thrift trip – something the Thrifty Snicker will write about someday.
As much as it pains the Discount Diva to admit it, she doesn’t know everything thrift. What are your favorite places and best bargains?
Until the next find!
The Thrifty Snicker