TAMPA, Fla. — With the financial strains of the pandemic, Christmas shopping could be challenging for many of us this year. However, filling up your cart with gifts doesn’t have to mean emptying out your bank account.
Thrift stores, like Life’s Treasures in Tampa, are waiting for you with open arms.
“Just like every other retailer it’s the busiest time of the year for us, our shelves are fuller, there are more people out shopping,” said director Brad Powell.
He said they see and hear first hand from customers that they are trying to save money this holiday season but still want to buy those one-of-a-kind gifts.
“You go to a retail store, $80, $90, $100 for a jacket, you can get one for $18, $20 or less,” said Powell. “One of the things I love about the thrift store, I think that makes it better than even a traditional regular retail store, is you get the vintage stuff, you can’t go in and buy stuff that’s 40, 50-years-old at Target.”
He said the store could also be the perfect spot to find that gift for that person in your life who is impossible to shop for.
“It’s funny we have people come in here and say, ‘you know I’ve been everywhere and I couldn’t find anything and this is exactly what I’ve been looking for and I didn’t even know it,’” said Powell.
You’re not just leaving with a great gift, but a great feeling. The store is run by volunteers with all proceeds going back to LifePath Hospice.
“You can go to the mall and buy something or you can come here and you can help the community,” said Jason Carroll with Chapters Health Foundation.
Terry Hudson started volunteering at the store after her husband was admitted to LifePath Hospice, now 20-years-later she is the manager.
“It's just amazing when they walk in the door and they start looking around and they say they came in looking for this but I found all of this and they have a full basket,” said Hudson.
She loves helping customers dig for those buried treasures. Every day they receive new donations.
“These are a pair of heatable boots, scented with lavender and a perfect gift still in the box,” said Hudson holding up one of many items that are still like new.
“We get clothing in with tags on it, shoes brand new in the box,” said Hudson.
Marie Scolamiero peruses the aisles at least once a week. She says there’s such an array of merchandise for all ages, it helps to have a strategy.
“Get in there and we scan first, with the eyes, I’m already seeing a vintage, antique vase right over there that I’m going to check out and check out where it's from and who made it,” said Scolamiero.
For Marie it’s been another successful trip, money saved and memories made.
“Here’s Santa with a pipe and it’s even a music box, it’s fabulous, and it works, you can’t beat it,” said Scolamiero as she shows off all the unique items in her cart.
Now she just has to decide which ones she’ll give away as gifts and which ones she’ll keep for herself.
“I’m obsessed with this place it’s by far the best thrift store for miles and miles,” said Scolamiero.