What can you buy for $5 at a thift shop
In the anything-goes-world that is thrift-shopping, one axiom holds true: If you see a “must have,” grab it. Chances are excellent that it won’t be there when you go back. You can even take a minute to muddle your decision.
Carson Valley offers shoppers four thrift stores, each one special in its own right with proceeds going to different causes.
But they all have a common thread.
Customers say a thrift shop is a great place to hang out on a Saturday afternoon, but the savvy shoppers go all week.
Need a washer? Coffee pot? Bread machine? Stretch pants? Cabbage Patch doll? Beanie Baby?
With patience and a little digging, you can find anything. You might discover Kate Spade shoes or fictional gumshoe Sam Spade in the paper backs. The Kleins are there, too – Anne and Calvin – at a fraction of their retail cost.
The thrift shops stand by their merchandise. Clothes are clean, the appliances work.
The background music almost always is country, and some offer special discounts.
For example, every other weekend, everything at the FISH Thrift Shop is half-price. And they mean everything – from baby clothes to a sectional sofa.
In January, Hidden Treasures discounted everything half off for the entire month as a thank-you to their customers, some of whom shop at least once a week.
Barton Hospice Thrift Shop in Minden holds regular half-price sales. You can tell when the bright yellow “Sale” banner is hanging over the wall that faces Highway 395.
Helping Hands Antique Thrift Shop manager Carrole Jardine has a special going almost every day.
Before Valentine’s Day she offered 15 pieces of sexy clothing for $15.
For this edition of The Carson Valley Almanac, we visited each of the Valley’s shops to see how far $5 would stretch.
Helping Hands is the latest incarnation of Carson Valley’s first thrift store, Coventry Cross. It’s changed congregations from Episcopalian to Methodist, but the mission statement is the same.
The store provides high-quality merchandise at reasonable prices and gives back to the community.
“We’re able to give people self-esteem and dignity with the quality items they can buy here,” manager Carrole Jardine said.
Even with the prices so low, the shop takes in $135,000-$140,000 annually in sales, Jardine said.
Jardine has more than two dozen organizations with which the thrift shop works, either receiving donations or making referrals.
“One of my goals is that this could be a total outreach center,” she said.
In the meantime, she’s happy working six days most weeks at the shop.
“The best part is I get paid for it,” she said.
A few days before Halloween, Kelly Peters came running in with Jade Hamilton, 11-1/2.
“Maybe you can be an angel or something,” Peters suggested as she sorted through a rack of costumes.
Like many thrift shoppers, Peters said she likes looking for bargains.
“I go to yard sales, thrift stores. I can’t afford to pay the new prices,” she said.
She and her husband have six children between them.
We gave Jade $5 and in minutes, she’d picked out five T-shirts before she and Peters dashed off.
Jardine said the donation she remembers the most is the diamond ring donated by a grief-stricken widower.
“His wife had just passed away and his heart was so broken, he gave us his wife’s diamond wedding ring. It was the saddest donation I ever saw,” she said.
The proceeds from the sale of the ring were donated to the Carson Valley Food closet.
“Miracles happen in here,” Jardine said.
— Sherri Smith was making a regular visit to the Hidden Treasures Antique and Thrift Store in January to take advantage of the store’s month-long half-off sale.
The unadvertised special was a way for the store to pay back regular customers like Smith who said she stops in once a week.
“I’ll never have to buy a new shirt again,” she said, looking through a rack of menswear.
“I come in here all the time,” she said. “The quality is good and the prices are always fair.”
Volunteers who work at the shop are paid in credit – $2 an hour.
Dave Giorgi, who usually works at the Family Support Council – the store’s sponsor – was helping supervise volunteers including two young missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Giorgi has seen lots of bargains come and go from a Kate Spade handbag to a bowl full of unopened McDonald’s Beanie Babies.
“One of the things we do here is offer clothing for men and women who are returning to work and need a professional-looking wardrobe. They get vouchers and come here and go shopping,” Giorgi said.
That day we invited Cassandra Calvillo, 20, of Carson City to shop with us.
We gave her $5 which she spent on books, records, and a set of glasses.
Calvillo said she is a second-generation thrifter.
“We like really antique-y things,” she said. “I love to go shopping with my mom.”
— We took Calvillo – with another $5 – to Barton Hospice Thrift Shop in Minden.
Assistant manager Peggy Lucier was working the counter with the assistance of her Maltese toy poodle, Bay Spinner.
Outside the store were two racks of uniforms donated by the women’s prison. Inside was a handmade quilt with all the state’s birds, on sale for $20. The quilt was the handiwork of Myrtle Fannon, dated 1982.
“Old as I am,” she embroidered on the quilt.
Lucier recalled some of the more unusual donations – a set of Civil War buttons and a diamond bracelet watch that she found in a donated bathrobe.
Calvillo invested in books, a ring and a vase.
At FISH Thrift Shop, Sharon Muldoon of Gardnerville had just taken over caring for her grandsons and was shopping for clothes for Carlos, 17 months.
“He likes Winnie the Pooh,” she said as she found a matching shirt and pants.
Carlos was more interested in exploring the toy section of the spacious store, but settled down long enough for his grandmother to determine his size.
“It’ll work out,” she said of her sudden responsibility to help raise her grandchildren.
For $5, she was able to dress Carlos handsomely.
Pam Silvis of Gardnerville said the thrift shops are a godsend as she wheeled a crib for her granddaughter out of Helping Hands.
“I hit them all,” she said. “It comes and goes on who’s got the best deal.
“To tell you the truth, it’s a God thing. You put a prayer out that you have a need, and you get a feeling of where it is.”
CARSON VALLEY’S THRIFT SHOPS
— Barton Hospice Thrift Store, 1609 Highway 395 (off Buckeye Road), Minden. Hours are Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Donations may be dropped off Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m.-noon. Information: 783-3533.
— Helping Hands Thrift Shop, 1418 Industrial Way, Gardnerville. Hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Donations may be dropped from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Information: 782-9410.
— Hidden Treasures Antique Thrift Shop, 1224 Pep Circle, Gardnerville. Hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Donations are accepted Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Information: 783-8869.
— FISH Thrift Store, 1231 Service Dr., Gardnerville, Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Donations are accepted from Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Information: 783-1455.