Van Malssen said she buys exclusively from thrift stores and pointed to her $18 deal on once $140 Dansko Clogs that she dubbed her “king of finds.” As a veteran shopper, she said her passion takes patience and a keen eye.
“Some days it’s hit or miss, but you’ve got to keep a lookout and hold on so you don’t get ripped off by retailers,” van Malssen said.
The prices aren’t the only reason to get involved with thrift stores. Some community members are motivated by a desire to give back.
“This will probably be my last job before I retire, and it just feels good to work in the community where I’ve lived for 25 years,” Page said.
The PTA Thrift Shop organization began in 1952 and has since donated nearly $70 million to local schools.
Matt Pennachi, the director of community relations for the two PTA thrift shops, said he has watched the organization grow.
“We are a 60-plus-year-old organization whose mission hasn’t changed — it’s just evolved,” Pennachi said.
Giving 98 percent of their net profit each year to schools, the two shops contribute an annual average of $250,000 to the district. The funds support transportation costs, band and sports uniforms and classroom supplies.
“We never turn a donation away,” Page said. “Just like people are donating it for a cause, we are accepting it for a cause.”
Anything the Carrboro shop cannot keep is send to a warehouse in Garner where it is further dispersed. Some donations are sent overseas, and any remaining goods are put through a thrasher to make new fabrics and materials.
Carrboro resident Bobbie Hayes said she appreciates Carrborro’s commitment to recycling its resources.
“After getting more involved with the thrift shops, I’m more aware of what a wasteful country we are,” Hayes said. “So many people buy new but there is so much already out there.”
Hayes donates clothes, books and housewares to the thrift shop every few weeks, saying it’s easier than a yard sale and more freeing than throwing things away.
“I’m a second child and grew up getting a lot of hand-me-downs. So clothes are my one guilty pleasure,” Hayes said as she pulled two bags of clothes from her car to donate.
“But I think somebody is going to find these things I once treasured and they’ll become treasures to them. And that’s just a great feeling.”