Thrift Shopping for the Holidays

Michelle and Ruth help check out customers at Second Act in Iowa City.

With Halloween officially over and the holidays approaching, thrift stores are starting to ask their customers to bring in old sweaters and festive apparel that could be worn to the annual office Christmas party. The National Association of Resale & Thrift Shops (NARTS) predicts a large increase in sales for the resale industry this holiday season. Seventy eight percent of thrift stores that are NARTS members say that their sales increased, at an average of 35 percent, within the past year. Since resale has evolved from the image of dark, musty junk stores, to well displayed stores that offer value and selection without the new-price markup, consumers are heading out to thrift stores to not only do their wardrobe shopping but to pick up unique gifts during the holiday season.

Second Act consignment and resale store located in Iowa City is getting ready to accommodate to the needs that the holiday season brings. They’ve recently cleared their store of Halloween costumes and are bringing out sweaters dressed with sequins and tinsel, gifts that mom will love, and an outstanding supply of quality winter coats to prepare themselves for this years holiday shoppers. While the resale and thrift shop industry continues to grow annually by 7%, the holiday season is helping bring a surge of new business in.

Melissa Williams, owner Second Act, first saw the rise in sales during the holiday season 10 years ago. She noticed that the stigma of dirty “used” second hand clothes was slowly leaving the industry and the trend of wearing vintage was on the rise. Williams works hard to stay on top the of the industry trends by asking her customers for donations that will help the store thrive. Each year she sets aside a stash of festive apparel that will suit her shoppers during the holiday season. Second Act is also the only place in Iowa City that offers costumes year around.  The store is one of the largest second hand stores in Iowa City and has rooms to separate the costumes they have to offer. Whether you’re looking for a fantasy, 80’s, or western themed costume; Second Act has a room designated for each look that you want to disguise yourself in. Williams and her bookkeeper Ruth, both have seen growth in the store within the past few years. Ruth recalls a time where vintage was overlooked and now she points out different girls in the street wearing vintage clothes and sees high end retails shops designating a section of their merchandise for vintage apparel.

If you’re trying to catch the trend of thrift store shopping, this holiday season is a great time to start. It’s much easier to find something of higher quality and a lower price at a thrift store and the satisfaction of finding the “it” piece is priceless. Whether you’re saving some money this holiday season or surprising your friends and family with a unique one-of-a-kind gift, thrift stores can help you accomplish it all. For more information and tips on holiday shopping at thrift stores, follow this link for a list I’ve put together using pictures, tips contributed from different people, and videos to help you get into the spirit of Holiday saving.

Below is a list of thrift stores in Iowa City where you can get your holiday shopping started:

Second Act

538 Olympic Court Iowa City, IA
Phone: 319-338-8454
Hours: Monday – Friday 10am – 5:30pm,  Saturday 1pm- 5pm, Sunday 1pm – 5pm

Crowded Closet

1213 South Gilbert Ct. Iowa City, IA
Phone: 319-337- 5924
Hours: Monday – Friday 10am – 5:00pm,  Saturday 10am- 4:30pm, Sunday closed

Stuff

1027 Highway 6 Iowa City, IA
Phone: 319-338-9909
Hours: Monday – Thursday 9am – 8:00pm, Friday – Saturday 9am- 5:00pm, Sunday 12pm- 5:00pm

Goodwill

985 Highway 6 East Iowa City, IA
Phone: 319-337-3548
Hours: Monday – Friday 9am – 9pm, Saturday 9am – 6pm and Sunday 12pm – 5pm

Artifacts

331 East Market Street, Iowa City, IA 52245
Phone: (319) 358-9617
Hours: Monday – Friday 11am-6pm, Saturday 10am- 5pm, Sunday 12pm – 5pm

Decorum

323 East Market Street, Iowa City, IA 52245
Phone: (319) 354-2183
Hours: Open on Saturdays (hours are not listed)

My 80’s Halloween

Every Halloween I purchase my costume at a second hand shop. This year I chose the lovely number above at Second Act in Iowa City. Walking into the store I had no idea what my plan was for this year’s Halloween. I came across an amazing rack of 80’s sequin- over the top- dresses tucked away in the back of the store. This dress had me at polka dots and the gold foil sleeves that deserve their own area code. I knew that I needed this dress so I built my costume around it.

Inspired by the puffy sleeves I decided to use this dress as a premise for my 80’s prom queen costume.

What I used:

  • Bright Pink Lipstick (MAC Impassioned)
  • Baby Blue Eyeshadow with Blue glitter
  • Pink blush
  • Tiara
  • Fabulous 80’s dress from a thrift store
  • Fish nets
  • Kitten Heels
  • Scrunchie for your side pony tail
  • Neon barrettes to randomly place in your hair
  • Bubblegum (to obnoxiously chew

This is just one idea that I came up with using a second hand garment. With some imagination and creativity a thrift store is a great and affordable place to great your own unique costume.

Happy Thrifting,

Elvira

Thrifting for a Cause

Merci

My name is Liza Showalter, I am a mother of two, I have a15 year old and a 8 year old, both girls.

And I love downtown Iowa City

I work for Catherine, she and Sheila Davidson, who owns Revival, this was their idea and she just asked if I wanted to a part of this again. Because, we were open in April and May.

The concept is to be able to give people affordable name brand clothing, we have

Tory Burch dresses that are $80 instead of $500, and they’ve been used once or twice.

We also give 10% of our proceeds back to the community. Last time we did four charities; Domestic violence, Crisis (center), a shelter house, and James gang for the arts.

This time we’re just going to split the 10% between Mission Creek and Domestic Violence.

The secret with, like, thrift stores and second-hand stores and consignment is to move the material around a lot. So that what people didn’t see last time they were in and this time they come in and it looks like a different store.

Because, you know, you do have to dig a little bit, to find great deals but also it just kind of refaces the store. And it’s fun to see something different when you come in.

They’re more willing to give it up (clothes), per say, when they know it’s going to a good cause.

And we did have such good luck last time we were here, that a lot of the same repeated donors came and gave stuff again.

Last time I noticed we had a lot of high-end bags, this time we didn’t get as many, but I think that you can only have so many Louis Vuitton bags.

I’m putting together a Halloween Facebook today, so just putting together some of the weird, funky stuff we have. Like, we have a “Thing 1” sweatshirt.

Catherine and Sheila wanted to find a better way to give money back to the community, and also do something that they were experts at. So they knew it couldn’t fail.

Do you take only cash?

Nope we take credit…

 

(Background noise, sales exchange.)

FEATURE: White Rabbit

This week I will be interviewing Cortnie Widen, owner of my favorite vintage apparel shops in Iowa City. I remember when I first discovered this gem of a store nearly 4 years ago. I was a freshman looking for something different to wear, that not every girl on campus had in her closet. Since that first day, I’ve always loved going back to White Rabbit. It’s always a hazard as I know that I’ll fall in love with almost everything.

Over the years, Widen has stayed true to her vision for the store and their selection is always consistent. The vintage clothes are meticulously picked to compliment this years latest trends while giving you a unique fabric or detail that you wouldn’t find at a department store. Each time I leave White Rabbit, I’m usually on the phone gushing to my friend about how I just found the best thing ever.

I’ve never met Cortnie Widen and I can’t wait to hear what she has to say about thrifting, fashion, and her adorable store.

xo,

Elvira

REfurbished Tweed

I’m wearing: Vintage yellow stone necklace from the 40’s, Polka Dot Top from H&M, vintage tweed skirt, and beige bow flats found in a second hand shop.

While I was out hunting for my next find, I came across this tweed skirt. The first thing that caught my attention was the quality of the tweed and the beautiful colors woven through turquoise. When I first held it up to get a better look, I knew the length had to go. Here is my photographed journey of turning this tweed skirt into something worth showing off.

What you’ll need: a really cool tweed skirt that needs some attention, scissors, buttons, thread, a hand sewing needle, and a steady hand.

First: Try the skirt on and decide what length you want. I found safety pins helpful in trying out different lengths. Once you’ve decided on a length, have a friend be your fit model and cut the skirt while being worn. This will ensure precision and an even cut.

TA-DA

Look! You can see my knees. (gasp)

I did a raw cut with no hemming. This just means that I left the edge of the skirt untouched after it had been cut. I think this adds a rugged look to the feminine skirt.

Now, Details. By now you know that I love the little details. It’s frosting on top of the cake. It’s necessary. I purchased this skirt at Crowded Closet in Iowa City, IA, and this second hand shop also has buttons, needles, fabric, etc. I picked up a set of gold cabochon buttons to add to the pockets. I hand sewed two buttons to each pocket by hand.

And there you have it! A tweed skirt that doesn’t look like something your grandma would wear.

This skirt cost me $2 and the buttons cost $2. My grand total is $4 for this chic steal that will look amazing with a pair of black tights and leather booties in the fall.

xo,

Elvira

Shopping to save money

Kate Waters, 20, is a student at the University of Iowa who has turned to buying second hand clothes to save money to pay off her student debt. Waters is a sophomore studying French and Business and has been passionate about thifting since a young age. Waters shares her insight on thrifting, tips to start, and how it’s an easy way to save money.

Artifacts

Todd Thelen is very successful at what he does. Todd is the owner of Artifacts in Iowa City, nestled on the corner of N. Market and Gilbert. It is a visual treat walking into Artifacts on a grey day in Iowa City. The walls are covered inch to inch with various works of art. Furniture, toys, and trinkets tower around the store competing for your attention. It takes a careful eye and patience to not miss something great.

Artifacts is a phenomenon among the pickers, thrift store lovers, and collectors. Todd has customers travel from all over the country to pack up their trucks with his vintage goods. Todd even has a customer fly in from Japan three times a year. He’s always on the lookout for items that his customers will want. In order to be successful at this he’s set standards for the items his store sells. He’s looking for mid-century products and leaving behind the antiques. The once thriving antique market is dead and Todd is ahead of the game picking modern products of the Eames generation.

Besides the overwhelming amount of items in the store, one thing that’s hard to miss is the overall atmosphere. As if Iowa City wasn’t small enough, Artifacts feels like its own community. People walk in and around, exploring each nook for a treasure someone missed. Todd greets almost every person by name and a warm welcome before showing off his latest thrift find.

Todd has a strong customer base and a few regulars that come in every day checking in to see what’s new. Steve is one of Todd’s serious pickers. He travels hundreds of miles across the Midwest each day looking for that great buy among the junk. Today he’s come to the store with news that the infamous “marshmallow” sofa is rumored to be for sale nearby. Steve and Todd marvel over the sheer possibility of Artifacts hosting this one of a kind sofa, or modern work of art. In anticipation, Todd already plans to put the marshmallow sofa in the display window. The marshmallow sofa is considered to be the most iconic of the modernist sofas.

With a steady rise in the thrift store market, Todd is holding on tight and trying to not get burned out. The stores motto is, “If it’s boring, we don’t have it.” His niche is that he has cool stuff and it doesn’t cost a fortune. He has something for everyone, whether its 50 cent vintage stamps, Prada shoes, or modern sofas, there will be something that fits your budget. Last week I found a vintage Christian Dior sweater for 12 dollars. It’s safe to say that I almost fainted.

80 percent of the items in the store are consigned from the people who shop there. Before consignment Todd spent his time searching for the one of a kind items at antique shows and now they come to him. Todd thinks that the trend for thrift stores and second hand items can be correlated with the recession and consumers wanting to save money. People have realized that they can get a product of higher quality for half the price. Artifacts is growing rapidly and successfully with each year in business. Their only obstacle is space. Todd finds that the location of Artifacts is a critical factor to its success and doesn’t plan on moving despite the need for more room. Margaret Roberts, one of Todd’s full time employees, tells me that it can get tight but the merchandise goes out as fast as it comes in.

As I finished up my interview with Todd, Steve let me in on a secret. From his many travels across the Midwest to find the greatest of thrift, vintage, and antiques. There is no place out there like Artifacts. It has the furniture that New Yorkers will spend tens of thousands for and the charm of a small town community of genuine thrifters. Not to be confused with those personalities you see scripted on TV. Margaret tells me that it’s the best job she’s ever had.

It’s definitely worth a visit.

xo

Elvira