Shoppers are getting more thrifty
Thrift shops are becoming more popular as cash-conscious customers look for ways to stretch their money.
However, now it is not just low-income earners who are shopping smart for second-hand goods.
Nancy Oughton, general manager of the Hospital Auxiliary of Bermuda, which runs The Barn in Devonshire, said the number of customers had “increased tremendously” after the recession hit.
But Ms Oughton added that customers at The Barn came from all backgrounds.
She explained: “The wealthy go down as well as the people in need — the families that are struggling and can't afford new clothing in town.”
“You'll see executives coming down there and getting three-piece suits.
“Our customer base is pretty wide and varied.”
Ms Oughton added: “Back in the day, there used to be a stigma attached to shopping at The Barn — that it was for just the people who are in need.
“But it's not so.”
Ms Oughton said prices at The Barn were dropped in the wake of the recession to help customers who were struggling.
She added: “We knew that we would take a hit to the bottom line — but it wasn't much of a hit and as a result we have been able to get even more customers.”
Ms Oughton said business was so good, The Barn was looking to expand.
She was speaking after cancer charity Pals announced it was to open its own thrift shop at its Paget headquarters in March, the island's sixth charity store.
Ms Oughton said that there was “plenty of room” for another thrift shop. She added: “The need is out there in the community.”
Colleen English DeGrilla, executive director at Pals, said there was “big love” for thrift shopping on the island.
Ms English DeGrilla added: “I don't think there could ever be too many thrift shops or charity shops.”
She said the idea for the shop came just after she joined the organisation last May.
Ms English DeGrilla added: “When I first toured the building, and I saw this whole big area in the basement, I said ‘my goodness this would be a great place for a thrift shop'.”
She said the Pals shop would help existing thrift shops by giving people another store to donate to. Ms English DeGrilla explained: “A lot of the shops are getting inundated with things. People want more places to give to.”
She said money generated by the shop would help to cover the cost of patient care — about $3,000 a day.
Ms English DeGrilla added: “We get no government grants — all of our money is from donation, corporate and individual.
“This is going to be a great fundraiser for us.”
The Royal Gazette asked shoppers outside The Barn why they shopped there.
Aura Jones said the main reason she shopped at thrift stores was the low cost.
The 42-year-old former Bermuda resident, who now lives in Jamaica, also liked the selection.
Ms Jones said: “I can afford to go to places where the prices are really high, but I like to come here because of the variety.”
Ms Jones said: “You find people here of all backgrounds, from rich to poor, because there is a variety of things people need.”
St George's resident Queena enjoyed the selection of goods.
She explained: “You find things that are unique — things that you wouldn't normally find in department or retail stores.”
The 47-year-old said thrift shops were also good places to discover Bermuda's culture.
Henry Gibbons, a 60-year-old stonemason from Sandys, did not use thrift shops for financial reasons.
“Sometimes I just choose to shop here,” he said.
Ann Spencer-Arscott, executive director at Bermuda Red Cross, said the organisation's thrift shop had been an income generator “that far exceeded our expectations”.
She said that there had been an increase in demand since the shop opened in 2011.
She added: “We started off two days a week, and we're now three days a week.”
Extended shop hours and special events have also been added.
Ms Spencer-Arscott said that customers at the Paget store represented “a good cross section of the community”.
She had spoken to a woman shopping for her grandchildren.
Ms Spencer-Arscott said: “She said ‘I can't afford to buy retail clothing. I'm able to get a lot more for my dollar for my grandchildren, so it helps people to get some of the basic needs.”
Ms English DeGrilla said that donations, including clothing, furniture and appliances, were now being accepted for the Pals shop.