Bargain shopping

Arlene Wheeler of Greenville always shops at Goodwill for books, she says, because she enjoys buying them at bargain prices.

Thrift stores are one way to battle the high cost of living these days.

Naomi Plummer said she visits the Goodwill store in Hermitage about once every two weeks because its clothes are cheaper than buying new. With gasoline costing $4 a gallon, Ms. Plummer said all her money goes into her fuel tank.

“I think that’s the way it is for everybody,” she said.

Kristan Glisson shops at Goodwill weekly for clothing and sometimes “odds and ends.”

“I lost a bunch of weight and had to go out and get all new clothes,” Ms. Glisson said. “I didn’t want to buy new.”

Avid reader Arlene Wheeler said she always buys books at the store, along with clothes, shoes and purses.

Reading “is my chance to escape, and I can do it cheaply here,” Ms. Wheeler said. “You really have to dig for bargains, but I always find something.”

Salvation Army customer Ron Zuccaro said he stops in the store in Sharon about four days a week looking for collectibles and clothing. Zuccaro enjoys collecting old jewelry and mechanical watches.

The Salvation Army has “better bargains,” he said, “and you can’t find old stuff in the new stores,” he said.

“I love these stores,” said Virginia Banovich, a second-time shopper at the Sharon Salvation Army store. She said she decorates her kitchen with chickens and often shops at thrift stores to find neat items.

“You can get quality furniture at a good price if you know what to look for,” she said. “People don’t know what they’re throwing away.”

Erica Parker, marketing director at Youngstown Area Goodwill Industries, said the number of donations to area Goodwill stores has declined, aand the items they do get are of poorer quality.

“We’re really low on houseware items,” Ms. Parker said. May especially was a month low in donations.

When donated items are of poor quality, the store must throw them out, which increases its trash bill.

Last year, the Youngstown area stores spent almost $100,000 for garbage pickup, Ms. Parker said. That money could have been used for the company’s vocational rehabilitation programs.

“Our stores exist in order to fund the programs,” she said. The goal of the programs is to train disabled members of the community and prepare them for jobs so they can “become taxpayers instead of tax users,” she said.

Hermitage Goodwill store manager Patty Krolopp said she has noticed a “slight increase” in customers.

“We do get quite a few who buy housewares,” Ms. Krolopp said, “but I see more people buying clothes and shoes than household items.”

Ms. Krolopp said customers often ask for mattresses, box springs and beds, items Goodwill doesn’t carry for sanitary reasons.

Beth Howard, manager of the Sharon Salvation Army thrift store, said customer numbers are about the same as last year.

“We do very well,” she said. “The community is very good to us.” She said the store has never lacked for donations.

“Every year, we grow,” she said. “Every year they set my bar a little higher but I always meet it.”

Ms. Howard said the clothing donated to the Salvation Army is of good quality. “You can really get your kid looking good,” she said.

Customers in general are happy with the store’s prices. “You always get those grumblers,” she said, “but most say prices are good.”

The Salvation Army store funds a number of services including a food pantry, a senior citizen activity program and a summer camp for local kids.

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