In tough times, business at thrift stores is booming

When Kansas City preschool teacher Elizabeth Eastburn walked down the aisle last April she wore an $800 wedding gown from a major bridal retailer. Only she didn’t pay $800 for it.

She paid $15 for the never-worn dress at a thrift store.

With money tight these days, this is Eastburn’s new way to shop. So on a recent day off from school, with book shelves and exercise pants on her shopping list, Eastburn wandered the aisles of Hillcrest Thrift Shop, one of several stores changing their ways to attract, and keep, new customers like Eastburn.

”We’re going gangbusters,” Manager Lou Warner said of business. “It’s the economic times the way they are. People are just needing to find things cheaper.”

And thrift stores are thriving. Members of the Association of Resale Professionals, which represents nearly 1,000 consignment and thrift stores, reported that net sales increased 12.7 percent in 2009 from 2008, trouncing overall retail sales that declined 7.3 percent over that time.

The Associated Press