Thrift stores save money, offer unique gifts

TAMPA, Fla. – With the financial constraints of the pandemic, Christmas shopping could be difficult for many of us this year. However, filling your gift basket does not necessarily mean emptying your bank account.

Thrift stores, like Life’s Treasures in Tampa, await you with open arms.

“Like all other retailers, it’s the busiest time of year for us, our shelves are fuller, there are more people shopping,” said manager Brad Powell.

He said they were seeing and hearing firsthand from customers trying to save money this holiday season, but still wanting to buy those unique gifts.

“You go to a retail store, $80, $90, $100 for a jacket, you can get one for $18, $20 or less,” Powell said. “One of the things I love about the thrift store, I think that makes it better than even a traditional retail store, is you get vintage stuff, you can’t walk in and buy stuff that’s 40, 50. at target.

He said the store could also be the perfect place to find that gift for that person in your life who is impossible to shop for.

“It’s funny that we have people who come here and say, ‘You know, I’ve been everywhere and I haven’t found anything and this is exactly what I was looking for and I didn’t even know it,’ Powel said.

You not only leave with a nice gift, but a great feeling. The store is run by volunteers and all proceeds go to LifePath Hospice.

“You can go to the mall and buy something or you can come here and you can help the community,” said Jason Carroll of Chapters Health Foundation.

Terry Hudson began volunteering at the store after her husband was admitted to LifePath Hospice, now 20 years later she is its manager.

“It’s just amazing when they walk through the door and they start looking around and say they came looking for this, but I found all of this and they have a basket full” , Hudson said.

She enjoys helping customers dig for those buried treasures. Every day they receive new gifts.

“These are a pair of warming, lavender-scented boots and a perfect gift still in the box,” Hudson said, holding up one of the many items that still look like new.

“We get clothes with tags on them, new shoes in the box,” Hudson said.

Marie Scolamiero walks the aisles at least once a week. She says there’s such a range of merchandise for all ages that it helps to have a strategy.

“Go over there and we scan first, with my eyes I already see a vintage antique vase right there that I’m going to check and verify where it came from and who made it,” Scolamiero said.

For Marie, it was another successful trip, money saved and memories created.

“Here’s Santa Claus with a pipe and it’s even a music box, it’s fabulous, and it works, you can’t beat it,” Scolamiero said, showing off all the unique items in his shopping cart.

Now she just has to decide which ones she will give as gifts and which ones she will keep for herself.

“I’m obsessed with this place, it’s by far the best thrift store for miles and miles,” Scolamiero said.

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