The price we pay: A profile of thrift stores around Charleston

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Vintage fur coats line the racks at The Trunk Show. (Photo by Abigail Hutchinson)
Vintage fur coats line the racks at The Trunk Show. (Photo by Abigail Hutchinson)

With designer and name brand clothes residing in the majority of the stores downtown, it can be difficult to find clothes that are affordable on a college budget. By definition, a thrift store is simply any store that sells secondhand clothes or household goods. The shops are usually connoted to come with cheap price tags attached; this is why thrifting has become such a popular way to shop. In the world of material items, is there really anything more beautiful than a cozy vintage sweater for only a few bucks? But these kinds of finds are far from common when thrifting in Charleston, where thrifting comes with more of a cost.

There is always the ever faithful handful of Goodwill stores in the area to provide the familiar experience in which you already know thrifting to be like, but if you want to venture outside of the safety of its surety, here are a few alternatives.

the-trunk-show
The Trunk Show is located at 281 Meeting St. (Photo by Abigail Hutchinson)

The Trunk Show is the closest thrift store to the College’s campus. Located at 281 Meeting St., the store has a wonderful selection of everything from glitzy evening gowns to simple T-shirts. The store is completely captivating, but only until you reach your hand into the sleeve of that chic crochet blouse you have already fallen in love with and read the price tag. Quickly, that love is hidden behind the bulging set of three zeros on the tag. Rows of vintage gemstones glitter in the dim light of an old glass lamp, tempting you to check the price of each one in search of something a bit more affordable. An old wooden dresser holds a shelve of high fashion heels all watching as you pass by and acquiesce halfheartedly as you realize the unfathomable prices. Even in the clearance section of the store, the majority of items were priced in the triple digits.

Groove Girl is located at 423 W Coleman Blvd. in Mount Pleasant. It holds a collection of clothes all following the latest trends; Lilly Pulitzer style patterns, bohemian prints, and a plethora of jeans can all be found in the racks.The drive is about 10 minutes away from downtown, with prices ranging almost identical to those of stores on King.

Exchange Fac
Exchange Factor offers the most reasonably priced thrift finds in the area outside of Goodwill. (Photo Courtesy of the Exchange Factor Facebook page)

The farther from downtown, the better the prices seem to be. At a 15 minute drive from downtown, Exchange Factor, located at 5128 Rivers Ave., supplies a true thrifting experience. Not only is the selection vast, the price range is as well. While many items are still priced very high, there is just as many that are affordable. The store reaps an original, eccentric and quirky style that is displayed through its clothes, shoes, stickers and costumes.

To say the least, the thrifting scene of downtown Charleston is steeply priced. Even as you venture away from the city, prices still remain for the most part above average. However, the treasured vintage finds are not impossible to attain– they may just take some smart budgeting. It’s the price all those living in Charleston pay for being in such an exquisite, but expensive, city.

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