Goodwill Hunting

The picture above is my shopping cart at Goodwill, I found so many things they let me bring the shopping cart into the fitting room!

This weekend I took my friend with me to our local Goodwill. It’s been a few years since I’ve been digging around at Goodwill. The one thing Goodwill is always good for is funky, cheesy, and amazing sweaters. My friend was nervous about our shopping trip, it was her first time at Goodwill. Unfortunately Goodwill has a stigma for being “dirty” or  a place where poor people shop. On the contrary it is one of the main places where growing teenage girls, wealthy middle aged woman, and old people with amazing vintage clothes donate their goods. Goodwill is the creme de la creme of second hand shopping.

One exciting thing about Goodwill is that none of their merchandise is priced. It is color coded ranging from $1-$5. It’s so cheap that they don’t even have to price it! If you can get over the fact that the clothes are second hand, it’s a shopaholics heaven.

What experience have you had with Goodwill?
xo

Elvira

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For Better or for Worse

As I start to develop this blog, there comes a time and a place where I have to answer the question of “What is your blog about?”

Usually I give the brief description of a thrift store fashion blog because, I love fashion, obviously.

Tonight I was challenged with, “Those stores are ruining the economy.”

Sure, you can argue that. Besides that being an overly dramatic statement, thrift stores do in fact provide us with dirt cheap clothes. These clothes are usually in good condition and sometimes you can even find designer names, *gasp*.

Although thrift stores are on trend and gaining popularity with college students and people between their early 20’s and late 30’s, I don’t agree with the argument. Earlier this week I interviewed Kate Martens, a thrift store enthusiast and she mentioned that buying used clothes has a stigma attached to it. It’s this stigma of not wanting to be the girl/boy shopping at Goodwill and coming across as not having money.

If your like me and you love shopping but don’t have the budget for new clothes, thirfting is your Paradise. Since trends repeat and styles turn over, with some searching and patience you can have the trendiest clothes and do it for next to nothing. Better yet, everyone loves the word “vintage”.

Vintage = Cool

So if thrift stores are doing better and corporate chain stores are not making as much, we’ll survive.

Keep thrifting,

xo

Elvira

 

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