Store offers vintage wares

Look all around town, but chances are you won’t find a selection that ranges from vintage bell bottoms to newer name brand clothing with prices almost always under $3 anywhere else but at The Salvation Army Thrift Store on South Main Street.

Walking in, it is possible to find a range of clothes from vinyl pants and leather, to suit jackets and dress attire. But clothing is not the only thing for sale. The Salvation Army also has books such as Stephen King and other famous authors, vinyl records that date back to the Supremes and other accessories such as dishes, pictures and shoes among other rarities.

With prices so low, even poor college students can scrounge up some change to grab a nice shirt or a pair of corduroys. Walking around the store, there are many people that are ready to aid customers.

Layne Layton, the store’s assistant manager, walks down each of the aisles picking out all the items marked with a blue tag, while other employees are in the back sorting, pricing and distributing clothes to be put out on the selling floor.

Name brand clothing donations intrigue customers and workers alike.

“Hum, nice Structure sweater,” Layton said.

Layton and the rest of the staff say they “have fun seeing what is going to come in next.”

Even while working they keep an eye on the stuff they think they might want to take home with them.

“It’s nice working here because we get the first look at everything,” Layton says.

The store is unique because it offers a variety of items that you would hardly find anywhere else, such as vintage lunch boxes, elephant trunk pants and disco clothing. The vintage items mixed with newer brands are what make this store in a class of its own.

“Everything in here is so unique because unlike other stores where you would only find what is in style that season, you can get things here that go all the way back to the 1940s,” Layton says, grabbing more sweaters off the rack and piling them into a cart that is starting to overflow.

The clothing in the store is not the only thing that is diverse. The wide selection of consumers that frequent the Salvation Army is about as big as the range of items found in the store.

“There are people that show up here on a regular basis,” Layton says. “Then you also have college students that come here looking for outfits to wear to theme parties.”

Looking around, there are people browsing all the clothes, racks shuffling back and forth and people looking for things they want or need. One woman in the store pushes a Tickle-Me Elmo on the front of the shirt and it starts to giggle aloud.

The Salvation Army not only helps people in this college town with their selection, it also provides a service to people who need the assistance.

This is one of the big reasons that they sell their items so cheap in the store. People in low-income families can easily afford the items for sale since the prices are just right.

“The Salvation Army Service Center on Lehman Avenue provides certificates for people who are in need of special aid with purchases,” Layton said. “And if they have kids they will usually give a $25 certificate for each kid so that the parents can come here and get what they need.”

Several people are involved in the distribution process. A lady by the name of Mari Alyce sorts the clothes into different categories.

“We usually separate the clothing into men, women and children’s, as well as taking out the dirty, ripped clothes that are not able to be sold,” Alyce said, while taking a handful of clothes out of the big hamper bins and putting them on their appropriate racks.

“The process is like an assembly line, we all have our parts to do, and some of us do a variety of tasks,” Alyce said with a smile. After the clothes are sorted, they move on to be priced. Cindy Huff, the store manager, stands at the rack with her co-worker Diana Finkenbiner marking the clothes to the right prices.

“The pricing all depends on if the clothes are name brand or not and what conditions they are in,” Huff said marking a black polo shirt with $1.99 on the tag. “Prices range for most shirts anywhere from 99 cents to $3.99, but we still try to keep everything at an affordable price so that all people are able to shop here.”

Looking at the racks there are all sorts of different shirts. There are polo V-necks, regular T-shirts and even stylish dress shirts that would be in a name brand catalog.

“With the variety of items it is like Christmas everyday,” Finkenbiner said You never know what you will end up with.”