Hello Fellow Thrifters! Now the Thrifty Snicker does not wish to start the summer off on a down note but she does wish to share a bit of trash truth she suspects you will find every bit as disturbing as she does. The United States spends more on trash bags than the entire Gross National Product of ninety other countries!* If that doesn’t put the gross in your GNP, your Bargain Blogger doesn’t know what does. We must all do a better job of recycling and reusing in order to keep things out of the landfill.
But on a happier note, hang on to your saddle horn for review of Austin’s own Texas Thrift Store – a shopping experience as big as the Lone Star State itself! Now you’ve seen that big ‘ole sign there east of I-35 just north of 51st Street, probably while creeping along in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Just jump off at Airport Blvd. and stay on the access road. Texas Thrift takes up an entire half of strip center a bit on the seedy side, but no worries, it’s another adventure in affordability and you’ll know you’ve found another shopping soul-mate when you see the sign in the window that says, “Never, Ever Buy New!”
Texas Thrift Store is a charity store (supporting Medina Children’s Home in Medina, Texas), sporting equal amounts of trash and treasure. But if you’re willing to go through the racks and shelves methodically and with an open mind, The Thriftstress promises you’ll walk away with an armload of dirt-cheap goodies! Come through the front door and you’ll find clothes to the right and house-wares and soft goods to the left. Straight ahead are the functional dressing rooms and the start of women’s clothing. On her most recent visit swimsuits and women’s tops were front and center.
As for clothes, despite efforts to keep sizes together, it’s worth your time to comb all the sections as sizes are easily mixed and you don’t want to overlook something wonderful. Case in point – three brand new Talbots linen skirts, size 10, were residing amongst their size 4 and 6 skinny little sisters. In anticipation of the 4th of July, your Bargain Blogger was in search of red shirt and found several to choose from but from different racks. Most of the separates fall into the $3.98 to $5.98 range – a point of pride for Texas Thrift staffers who maintain that theirs are the best prices in town. Dresses seem to run about $4.98 to 9.98 as do shoes. The Snicker found a beautiful spring coat by Old Navy for just $7.98 and snickered over the Aladdin slippers complete with rolled up toes for just $4.98. No doubt the flying carpet was just down the aisle!
Annie Lennox began singing just as the Thrifty Snicker got to women’s jeans and she could have sworn she heard Annie croon, “Sweet jeans were made for me…” And sweet they were as most were priced at $5.98 and $6.98. A quick tour of the menswear section revealed pricing consistent with women’s clothes as well as an added bonus in the form of a very sexy ponytailed male shopper that The Thriftstress would have been quite happy to interview had she been thinking more quickly and less dazzled by the Nina Ricci peasant blouse for just $6.98. Pauvre de moi!
Informative conversations with staffer Logan, as well as store manager, Janet Murdock, revealed all the necessary low down for your shopping (and donating) experience. Logan’s Law of Donations: if you leave your baggie in the pocket of something you donate, do NOT come asking for it later. Janet, a self-styled “south Austin funky girl” admits that she spent some time on the dark side (read: retail store in a shopping mall) but returned to her roots when she took on Texas Thrift Store. Intentionally low prices and a relaxed attitude translate to regular and dedicated customers who typically fall into one of three thrift categories: the budget shopper looking to clothe a family; the “I Love Thrift” bargain shopper, and the fashion independent seeking to put together a unique and inventive wardrobe. But clothes aren’t the only deals to be had what with nearly half the store dedicated to house-wares, books, toys, furniture and other home accessories. Texas Thrift Store does not do large appliances and furniture is minimal but a nice six foot bookshelf priced at $14.98 won’t be there long. The good folks there are happy to take most of your donations so long as clothes are clean. Baby furniture, mattresses, and appliances are on the “no go” list but computers and electronics are okay. They’ll even pick up your donations if that makes life easier for you! Give ‘em a buzz at 512.380.0025.
While they do put out 15,000 garments a week, they don’t have a website or Facebook page, although that may change. What’s not going to change is their commitment to customers and to helping make Austin affordable. You can be a part of the Texas Thrift Store experience 7 days a week at 5319 North I-35. Store hours are 8 to 8 Monday through Saturday and 11 to 6 on Sunday.
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
*Polly LaBarre, How to Lead a Rich Life, Fast Company, March 2003