Local Thrift Stores Face Cost Crunch
Thrift stores have become popular in recent years. But they are not immune to highs and lows.
“There’s kind of a cost crunch for thrift stores right now,” said Rich Vosepka, volunteer for Arc’s Value Village in New Hope.
Step inside Arc’s Value Village and you are in bargain heaven.
“Our shoppers are very price sensitive,” said Molly King of Arc’s Value Village. “Our average price is $3 an item.”
From kitchen items to clothes, there is more than two of everything in this store and it’s all sold at a discount that benefits a trusted charity.
“The value of thrift stores is giving back to the community,” Vosepka said. “Recycling valuable materials that would otherwise be in a trash heap somewhere.”
“You buy a shirt for a couple bucks and you are literally helping your neighbor who has a disability through Arc Minnesota,” said King.
Arc’s Value Village has been around since the 1980s. It’s one of the many nonprofit thrift stores in the northwest suburbs.
“The stigma of used items has gone away,” King said.
However, some thrift stores are facing financial turbulence. Arc has four stores in the Twin Cities, but will soon close its St. Paul location. That store was never profitable, officials said. Arc also closed its Brooklyn Center store last year, not because it was losing money, but because it lost its lease.
“Costs and overhead keep going up,” Vosepka said.
“There are a lot of strong headwinds right now,” King said. “We have a lot of competition in the thrift business in the Twin Cities.”
Rent and wages keep going up, yet prices remain the same. As a result, those in the thrift store business are trying to get creative to stay solvent and generate more revenue.
“There are bumps in the road,” King said. “You have to continuously work to find what’s new and exciting for our guests.”
Arc’s Value Village now has a service that finds items to fit a shopper’s profile. It also now has an eBay site. The nonprofit hopes those changes and others will result in more revenue.
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