Thrift Shops and Thrifting Finds in Gainesville

As a college town, Gainesville is no exception to this upward trend

By Michaela Bisienere and Rachel Godfrey

A kitchen cabinet stocked with souvenir cups from someone else’s long gone prom or trip to Disney. A well-loved book with notes and diary entries scribbled in the margins. Those heels that you wouldn’t even let yourself dream of wearing when you saw the price tag in the window at the mall last year.

 It’s not just your grandpa’s style anymore. Thrift shopping has evolved from a passing fad to an integral part of the way that millennials spend money. A still-recovering economy coupled with a new attitude toward sustainability, recycling and all things vintage has contributed to an increased popularity of thrifting among younger generations. The National Association of Retail Professionals estimates that the popularity of thrift shopping has increased by 7% over the past couple of years, and is still climbing.

As a certain Grammy-winning song pointed out, all it takes is $20 in your pocket and the right enthusiasm to get caught up in the thrill of the thrift store hunt. As a college town, Gainesville is no exception to this upward trend. Stores like Thrift 5, The Outreach Thrift Store and the local Goodwill can be the ideal spot for students looking to shop on a tight budget.

With a copy of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” in one hand and a map of Japan in the other, Hannah Barson is a seasoned thrift store junkie.

“I like the randomness,” she said.  “You never know what to expect. It’s really spontaneous and you find gems for a bargain that you won’t see anywhere else. Every shop is different and that’s what makes it fun.”

Barson takes scissors and a needle and thread to her unique finds and creates a new look all her own.

The satisfaction of stumbling upon a pair of vintage Levi’s or an ‘80s neon one-piece is Maddie Cozart’s reward for scouring thrift store aisles.

“You win some, you lose some,” she said. “There’s a ton of quantity but you do find a lot of quality. If there’s ever anything wrong with something I buy, I just laugh about it. It’s not like I wasted my life savings on it.”

Rachael Kerley, an employee at Thrift 5 on West University Avenue, said the idea of one piece of clothing or furniture making its rounds through the lives of different people is one thing she likes about thrift stores.

Instagram photo by gnvfashionweek - Working hard for tomorrow's Trunk Show at Thrift 5! @meshrose @neutral7 #aiginthecity #gfw2014

“There’s something really nice about the circulation of things,” Kerley said. “You don’t want things to just stand still. If we’re not actively using things, they shouldn’t be in our spaces.”

The idea that thrift stores are a graveyard for mysteriously stained couches and sweaty-smelling clothes is a misconception. Kerley said she sees a lot of high-quality finds end up in the store simply because the owner needed to clear some space and get rid of excess clutter.

“I’ve definitely been there before, where I’m like, I don’t wanna throw this stuff away but I’m just done with it, I can’t hold onto it anymore,” Kerley said.

One man’s trash is another’s treasure. Want to see what’s waiting for you? Come to the Gainesville Fashion Week and Thrift 5 Trunk Show on March 16 from noon to 5 p.m. at 1227 West University Ave.