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In a city like Boulder, there are a plethora of alternative shopping opportunities. Many offer better value and greater savings than your local Kohl’s. I take pride in every second-hand item hanging on my walls or in my closet. Not only was I able to save a lot of money by purchasing clothes and housing wares on the cheap, I created a style all my own. Thrift stores are any college students’ cheap dream for furnishing their home and wardrobe, but don’t take my word for it — take the word of a real thrift expert.
Fellow Nate Berkus Show fans have heard of Mr. Goodwill Hunting, Rashon Carraway. For those who have not, please allow me the pleasure of introducing you.
Carraway is a lifestyle blogger and an interior designer. His blog, Mr. Goodwill Hunting, features “thrifting,” fashion and interior design mixed into a style all his own. He found his gift of interior design with the help and guidance of Nate Berkus — a.k.a. Oprah’s design expert. Carraway has made multiple appearances on the Nate Berkus Show that have inspired many around the nation to find the beauty in second-hand items. His wardrobe alone is inspirational. It consists of thrifted suits, bow ties and collared button-down shirts which speak volumes to his style and southern charm.
As Carraway will attest, thrifting is an amazing way to shop and find great deals without putting a huge dent into your budget. Spendaholics Anonymous interviewed Carraway via email about his tips and tricks of thrift. Take notes, Carraway has some great advice!
CU Independent: When did you start thrifting, and what is your most treasured find?
Carraway: I have been thrifting since middle school. So quite a while. My skills have definitely improved over time. I have so many finds, but the one that gave me the biggest financial return was a complete dining set of Eero Saarinen Knoll Tulip Chairs. Paid $100 for four chairs and a table. It was a good month.
[With a quick Ebay search, you can find these Eero Saarinen Knoll Tulip chairs listed from about $850 to $1,250, with the more expensive one dated back to the 1950s.]
CUI: At such a big university in such an influential city, how would you suggest students find their own style through thrifting?
Carraway: The great thing about thrifting in college is that if there are local thrift stores one can experiment with various fashion styles until they find a look that fits them.
CUI: On Jan. 19, you posted on your blog, “If you are ever on the fence about a particular trend, make a quick visit to your local thrift store. Chances are you may find something to experiment with. As we all know fashion [is] just like a broken record. It tends to repeat itself,” also included in the post were photos with you carrying a portfolio case or man bag. What are some trends that you think students should embrace and look for at thrift stores?
Carraway: Well I am not a fan of trends. However, some thrift stores are great for trends. For example, neon is what retailers and the fashion industry is pushing right now. I am certain there are a number of thrift stores overflowing with ’80s neon. For the guys, ties, cardigans and suits are always abundant. The classic style never changes so buying those will ultimately keep your wardrobe up to date.
CUI: When buying furniture and pieces for your home, what should one look for in quality and style?
Carraway: Furniture, just like clothing, is up to the personal taste of the individual. There are pieces of furniture I would not use in my home because it isn’t my taste, but that doesn’t mean someone else can’t love it. Quality however, is universal. If you can buy solid wood pieces, they hold up for a much longer time than MDF or practical board (stuff sold at Ikea and Wal-Mart). Sometimes vintage pieces always yield better quality furniture.
CUI: Many people are hesitant to buy second-hand clothing out of fear of buying a damaged good. Do you have any tips on how to ensure to buy top quality items?
Carraway: Well, you can shop major department stores and buy damaged goods. Honestly, vintage clothing is better quality than what is made today. I buy a great number of vintage clothing, but I do buy just as much modern items as well. I think preference over quality is what one should strive for. If you like it, buy it.
CUI: What are your favorite brands to hunt for or favorite items?
Carraway: I don’t really search brands. I’m visual. I skim over what I like. I pull it out and determine if it is my size or not. If not I put it back and move on. Brands can sometimes be germane to location. In one city there is an outlet mall. So I noticed quite a few of the same brands popping up. When I am in New York I see a lot of Theory and Burberry. Down South there are a lot of vintage brands, but with excellent quality. I definitely think thrifting is an art. Everything you purchase should be your personal preference.
Carraway couldn’t be more accurate. Thrifting is an art that takes time and effort to perfect. However, new thrifters can still save a lot of money and adorn their lives with unique items and a style all their own.
Inspired? Here is a list of the thrift stores in Boulder that I frequent in order from best to worst.
Humane Society of Boulder Valley Thrift Store
Monday to Saturday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
5320 Arapahoe Ave.
The Humane Society thrift store is relatively large, cheaply priced and offers a large selection of books. What really makes this store stand out is the adoptable animals hanging around in large display cages around the store.
Greenwood Wildlife Thrift Shop
Monday to Friday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
3141 Walnut St.
This shop is a medium to small thrift store offering a little bit of everything. The prices range from thrifty and cheap to expensive like an antique store.
ARES Thrift Store
Monday to Saturday 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
2536 Spruce St.
This dimly lit store is fairly large. The prices are cheap especially when you take advantage of their daily deals. As a thrifter, you must be willing to dig here, but for those on the search for unique furniture, check this store out.
Hospice Care and Share Thrift Shop
Monday to Sunday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
5565 Arapahoe Ave.
This shop is a pretty large store that is fairly priced and offers some good real wood furniture.
Monday to Saturday 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
695 South Broadway St. #13
Savers offers a Super Savers Club Card with special events and member-only coupons. Savers is kind of pricey, but the store is huge. The shop is famous among students for its Halloween costume selection.
Monday thru Saturday 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
2486 Baseline Rd.
Goodwill is a nationwide chain so it is large in comparison to the others. The prices are expensive and nothing to be floored by.
Salvation Army Family Store
Hours not listed.
1701 33rd St.
Being a nationwide chain, this is a very large store compared to the previous listed. Unfortunately, the store is having an identity crisis because the items are priced as if they were from an antique store. Plus, the items aren’t great to begin with.
Contact CU Independent Opinion Editor Mandi Meek at Amanda.firstname.lastname@example.org.