I am an avid thrifter. My wardrobe is composed of 90% Goodwill, 5% Savers and 5% miscellaneous hand-me-downs or the odd piece of clothing from Target. I began thrifting regularly in early high school, but I have always dabbled.
When I arrived to Flagstaff, I immediately noted where the local Goodwill is. However, despite having lived here for two years, I have yet to expand my horizons beyond Saver’s and Goodwill.
Today, I will. I went to five different thrift stores in Flagstaff to judge which one is the best, based on price, location, variety and quality.
The Garden Thift
My first stop was The Garden Thrift. This shop has an adorable storefront with a repurposed Volkswagen van and picnic tables where customers can sit. The Garden Thrift is located downtown near The Hub and Fratelli’s. And Single Speed Cafe is just next store, so you can grab yourself a coffee before you browse.
The store is split into three stories: the first floor has furniture and linens, the second floor — where the entrance is located — has cutlery, china, music and literature, and the third floor is dedicated to clothing.
On the day I went in, all clothing was 75% off, making the average of $5 to $10 plummet to a buck or a few. All the plates and kitchenware average between $1 and $3. The furniture varied in price, but was still reasonable — they had a very comfortable duck down armchair on sale for only $20.
Overall, The Garden Thrift had a wide variety of products. I saw camera gear, tons of pillows, art, bikes and a crib. Everything was well priced — definitely no more expensive than Saver’s — and while it’s not super close to campus, it’s location isn’t too shabby. Depending where you are on campus, it’s most likely walkable. The quality of all the products seemed about the same as or even better than Goodwill’s average
The Garden Thrift gets my seal of approval, especially if you’re looking for a place to get cheap stuff to decorate your apartment or dorm.
Runway Fashion Exchange
My next stop was Runway Fashion Exchange. This place has a strong Plato’s Closet feel. They accept name brand clothes for cash or store credit, but due to the pickiness, per se, of the shop, it’s somewhat of a luxury thrift store.
The average price for tops ranges from $8 to $10 and pants range from $15 to $30, pretty much double that of The Garden Thrift. They carry some nice winter coats which average around $20 — a steal in my opinion.
Runway is just as expensive as Forever 21 or H&M. They do carry some cool products and I saw quite a few things I contemplated snagging. The price is due to the focus on name brands and high quality clothing, which isn’t a problem.
I think the higher prices give less incentive for the average person to shop there when they can go to the mall and get something “new” for the same price. Regardless, Runway promotes the recycling of clothes which would otherwise have been thrown away by whoever took them in to sell.
Since everything is on the higher-end side, as opposed to Goodwill or Saver’s, you are paying for the name and quality, which one could argue is worth it.
They have a clearance section which ranges from 20% to 50% off and sell new clothes from small designers, which Runway buys wholesale, according to an employee. She said the wholesale products take up about 10% of the store.
Runway, while on the pricey side, has a wide variety of clothes and the store is heavily stocked. It’s pretty close to campus, located on Milton Road near McDonald’s. The clothes are high quality enough to justify the price. However, price is the biggest factor to me, personally, which is why I shop at Goodwill. If you want used clothes that look new, this is the place to go.
I call Saver’s, “Better Goodwill.” While it’s slightly more expensive than Goodwill, the store is vast and carries a wider variety.
Saver’s has a similar set-up to Goodwill: narrow aisles jam-packed with thousands of clothing items. The outskirts of the store contain books, kitchenware, art and other household items.
Everything at Saver’s is about a dollar or two more than it would be at Goodwill. The quality is only slightly better than it’s thrift department store counterpart — every now and then I get stained or ripped items from Goodwill, but rarely do I come across damaged items at Saver’s.
Saver’s stock of shoes, jeans and dresses, just to name a few, is larger than that of Goodwill. When I’m looking for a specific piece of clothing, I go to Saver’s because I know it’s more likely they carry it.
The clothing ranges from $2 to $10, but every now and then I’ll stumble upon something in the teens. However, the slightly higher prices don’t necessarily deter me because the quality and variety make up for that buck or two.
Goodwill is a classic and honestly, it’s hard to go wrong. I will always have a soft spot for Goodwill, but it does have its downfalls.
There are two Goodwills in Flagstaff: the outlet and the regular store. The regular store is what you would expect from a Goodwill. They carry tons of clothes, some shoes and jewelry, linens and art. The average price for clothing floats somewhere around $5, but pants and jackets can bring that average up, of course.
On the other hand, the outlet — AKA “the bins” — doesn’t have organized racks of clothes on hangers. Rather, you can dig through bins of donated clothes in hopes of finding something of value.
This experience is dirty and cheap, but there’s no guarantee you’ll find anything you like. Going to the Goodwill Outlet can take some time and requires some digging, but in the end, you can walk away with a lot for very little.
At the bins, you can get items for anywhere from 10 cents to a dollar. For me, that price is worth the grime of the experience. However, some Goodwill Outlet locations may be more “worth it” based on where they are in the country. A Goodwill Outlet in Los Angeles is likely to be better than one in Flagstaff.
Saver’s comes out on top, but “the best thrift store in Flagstaff” is still an unclaimed title. It depends on individual needs and where in the city you’re looking to shop. If you’re by the mall, Saver’s is the place to be, but if you’re downtown, The Garden Thrift is the perfect place to shop around.
Flagstaff’s thrift market isn’t only limited to these handful, either.
Go out there and find your best thrift store.