Nationwide Economic Uncertainty Fails to Buoy Niceville Thrift Shops

The Thrifting Situation

     Nationally, an unsteady economy may appear to impact pocketbooks, with people finding ways to save.

            If thrift store shopping could indicate inflationary and recession shopping, it hasn’t been seen by workers in two Niceville thrift stores.

            “I don’t know if they (shoppers) are coming into the stores because of the economy or because they’re looking for a bargain,” said Carole Galpin, a volunteer with Angel’s Attic. She handles publicity for this thrift shop located on the Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church campus, Valparaiso Boulevard.

            Similarly, Amanda Parish said she sees shoppers who also seek bargains and more.

            “I think if thrift shopping picks up in the next few months, it will be more about what can be found in the thrift shop that can’t be found elsewhere,” Parish said. She serves as ministry director of the Bargain Box, located on the Crosspoint campus, Partin Drive.

            “If you are just going for price, a thrift shop may not necessarily be where you go to,” Parish continued. The low-price items, she added, may not last; thrift shops often offer made-in-the-USA items and quality manufacturing.

            “Right now, one of the greatest benefits of thrift shopping is you can find vintage clothing and boutique clothing,” Parish also said.

            What also brings shoppers to the Bargain Box, Parish continued to say, is that it does offer selection.

            “We don’t have a supply chain problem like the retail stores,” she said.

a woman standing in front of a clothes rack
Amanda Parish, the manager of the Bargain Box in Niceville, poses in front of some of the thrift store's wares.

Donations, Dorm Rooms and Overseas Thrifting

          The Bargain Box was founded in 1957 by four ladies who wanted to raise money to furnish the parsonage of what was then the called the Niceville United Methodist Church. The church and its campus has grown, with Crosspoint serving five locations in Okaloosa County.

            Bargain Box operated on a volunteer basis for several years, although now it supports two full-time employees and two part-time employees. Between 60 to 70 volunteers keep the shop running.

            Bargain Box puts its funds toward Crosspoint ministries and toward community outreach organizations such as the Sharing & Caring foodbank and Children in Crisis.

            Angel’s Attic also supports church-related ministries as well as community outreach organizations. The shop recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, and like the Bargain Box, it was founded by a group of Holy Name parishioners that held an annual rummage sale to raise funds.

            “We’re all volunteers here,” said Pat Honstetter, chairwoman of the Angel’s Attic board. Angel’s Attic operates with about 30 volunteers. Honstetter held a brief phone interview, with three other representatives sitting in a separate in-person interview.

            Pat Tusai, who serves as the thrift store’s advisor and a board member, brings with her extensive thrift store knowledge.

            “Our prices, the majority of our clothing, it’s a dollar,” she said. “And we frequently run 50 percent off.”

            It is the pricing and selection, she added, that brings in shoppers—people looking for bargains.

            “We have a lot of foreign nationals who come in,” Tusai said. “They send (merchandise) back to their home countries.”

            Tusai also noted that in August, as students prepared to go to college and university, she saw many parents shopping for household items such as dishes and cooking utensils.

            “I don’t think there’s any one items that sells better,” she also said.

            Board member Pat D’Aquila, who was part of the in-person interview, said that Angel’s Attic sells everything but furniture.

            “I think there’re more younger people coming in, too,” she said, adding that they are often shopping for fast-growing children.

            Galpin, who was also part of the in-person interview, said that the Angel’s Attic volunteers are vigilant in what goes on the floor.

            “If it has stains on it, it doesn’t go on the floor,” she said. What doesn’t sell is packaged and donated to Waterfront Mission, which operates a larger thrift store venue.

            Both of these church-based thrift shops operate like commercial retail shops. The shelves are organized, inventory is rotated, seasonal items get front-of-store placement. Parking for both shops is plentiful and convenient. Both shops accept donations directly at their stores.

            Angel’s Attic: Shop hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 to 1:00 and on Saturday 9:00 to 12:00.  Angel’s Attic is located at 1200 Valparaiso Blvd., Niceville; 

            Bargain Box: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; donations during shop hours. Bargain Box is located at 214 Partin Dr. S., Niceville; 

Location of Angel’s Attic in Niceville

“We have a lot of foreign nationals who come in,” Tusai said. “They send (merchandise) back to their home countries.”

Pat Tusai, Thrift Store Advisor Tweet
Some of the items for sale at the Bargain Box in Niceville

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