The Adventures of Tag Popping

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis may have brought thrifting to the mainstream in 2012 with their hit “Thrift Shop” but truly hip folks have been thrifting way before those boys were wearing green gator shoes and leopard mink.

Thrifting, whether you are looking for clothes, books, furniture, or decor, is often a shopping adventure. Why go to the mall and spend money on new clothes (but usually cheaply made, often in a sweatshop) when you can head to your local thrift or consignment store to look for cheaper clothes that may be like new or barely worn? During your quest, you may run into danger: that puffy, magenta and teal coat made in 1983, hand-sewn wall decor made by someone’s great-aunt, or frightening self-help books with titles like Why You’re Weird, but come on, where is your sense of adventure?!

When it comes to thrifting in the Lowcountry, there are a plethora of options. Of course, one can always choose Goodwill, where there is much to dig through. There are other consignment stores which buy used items in good condition, like Plato’s Closet and Clothes Mentor, both located on Hodgson Memorial Drive in Savannah. However, if you are looking for something a little less corporate-focused, choosing local, whether it is with thrift stores, boutiques, or grocery stores, is usually the better option.

There are many thrift stores in the Savannah area which donate a large percentage, or even all proceeds, to charities, non-profit organizations, or causes which better the community. On the eastside of Savannah, on Bona Bella Avenue off of Skidaway Road, the thrift store Blessingdale’s donates 100% of its proceeds to The Living Vine, a Christian Maternity Home for pregnant women in need.  No matter one’s religious preferences, most shoppers can agree that helping pregnant women is a benefit to the community.

The Old Savannah City Mission, another non-profit with a religious focus, offers a thrift store next to the main mission building downtown on Bull Street. They focus on issues pertinent to the area: hunger, homelessness, addiction and helping to restore ex-offender into the communities. The four Off Island Thrift stores in Bluffton, SC also donate 100% of their proceeds to charity, but focus mostly on local patients suffering from cancer. Three of the stores, located on Bluffton Parkway, have an overwhelming selection of items, particularly clothing. Pooled together, all four stores have a total of over 500,000 individual pieces of clothing, all priced very moderately. One of the four thrift stores, Crazy Beach Boutique, is a “high style” thrift store, where some of the finest store donations are sold. The prices are higher, but it may be one of the only places where buying high end items helps those in need.

Another thrift shop in Bluffton, Calhoun Station, donates its proceeds to several charities and non-profits, including Meals on Wheels and the Boys & Girls Club. Located on Pritchard Street, near the popular Old Town area of Bluffton, the store is run by volunteers and is only open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. All items are very generously priced, and the range of items available can provoke a cornucopia of memories from shoppers born anytime from 1945 to 1995.

One of the most unique and interesting vintage/thrift stores in the Savannah area, Gypsy-June’s, located in Rincon, offers a range of items from more high end clothing, to antique furniture and china, to gently used purses and jewelry. The store opened in March of 2013 and has been popular among thrift shoppers in Effingham County ever since.

Leslie Wise, the owner of Gypsy-June’s, opened up about her love of thrifting, explaining how her hobby helped her begin a wonderfully exciting business. Wanting to escape the life of working in corporate America, Leslie decided to lean on her own personal collection to start a small vintage/thrift store. Of course, a retail business could not operate without a love of people and a network of community fans.

“I love what I do for so many reasons,” Leslie said, “starting with the customers. I love meeting new people and sharing stories about fantastic finds, and before you know it, you are sharing stories about children and grandchildren etc…so now your customers are new friends.”

Gypsy-June’s is somewhat unique among thrift stores, but not unusual for vintage/retro stores, in that they employ a “seeker” (not unlike in Harry Potter’s game of Quidditch) who passionately travels to estate sales, auctions and other interesting events and places, bringing back any found goodies right to the store for sale. Luckily, now that Gypsy June’s has more help inside the store, Leslie has the opportunity to be the seeker in this game of thrift shop owning. Shopping, for a living? Some of us can only dream.

This is not just shopping, but adventure shopping, a term that can solely be used as an action verb executed within the walls of thrift, vintage, and consignment stores, as well as flea markets, yard sales, etc. Embodying the usual craftiness of those who collect and shop for thrifted items, Leslie does not believe in tossing out old objects. “Whether it be at a yard sale, a thrift store, an auction, a flea market….all things old can be used again. Sometimes it takes imagination to breathe new life into things, and that is what I do. There are also occasions when I find pieces that don't need any transformation at all. They just need to be seen.”

Seeking any tips for adventure shopping? Need help thrifting for come ups? Leslie gives the best advice. “Be patient, you'll find it!”