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Used bargain stores cash in on trend
Tu Lo of the Salvation Army organizes a popular section of the thrift store that has served Manteca residents for decades. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

It’s the ultimate fashion paradox.

Why is it that some clothes cost more money used than their brand new, off-the-rack counterparts? Why do raggedy Levi’s 501 jeans cost twice as much as a brand new pair?

With consignment stores and upscale vintage boutiques opening up throughout the Central Valley, searching for that old workers jacket or that perfect pair of broken in wing tips – the completion of the hipster archetype – doesn’t require a trip to the Bay Area anymore.

But it also doesn’t have to break your wallet.

For decades Manteca has had at least a pair of competing non-profit thrift stores that offer bargains at absolutely every turn, and provide a valuable opportunity for hunters looking to find that perfect 50/50 softball t-shirt or the velour sport coat that will surely spark a conversation during a night out on the town.

And the entire process has become fashionable.

Last year Seattle-based rapper Macklemore became a household name when he released a song on iTunes called “Thrift Shop” that detailed his exploits while carousing for deals at his neighborhood bargain bins – picking up everything from fringe leather jackets to alligator shoes and a broken keyboard.

The song was intended to be tongue-in-cheek, but for those who spend their time searching, it was an anthem.

Here are a few places that you can find steals of your own:

• The Salvation Army Thrift Store – You know how they call the Rose Bowl “The Granddaddy of Them All?” That’s The Salvation Army. This place has operated in the same location for decades, and the money raised through the sale of donated goods funds a variety of outreach efforts into local communities. There is absolutely nothing pretentious about this place. That smell of old, boxed-up clothes that have been in the attic or the basement for months? It’s like they somehow were able to capture that in a Glade Plug-In and hit every single outlet. But the supply is plentiful and the bargains are everywhere. It’s a can’t miss. 128 N. Garfield Ave, (209) 239-3426.

• Goodwill – After serving people in Downtown Manteca for years, Goodwill packed everything up the same way that people who donate to them do, loaded it all into a truck, and moved into a massive retail space in the Manteca Marketplace – occupying the end section down past Save Mart. It was a shrewd business move because it meant that their space cost would naturally be higher. But the store is, on the regular, packed – racks and racks of clothing provide options for men, women and children, and a wide variety of accessories from housewares to shoes rounds out the offerings. Even some new items are available for purchase. The new space kind of takes away from that thrift store feel, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to find the bargains that you’re looking for. And it’s a non-profit to boot. 1477 W. Yosemite Ave., (209) 825-4105.

• The Hope Chest – This is the new kid on the block. And it’s a very established, close-knit block. But when the money that you’re raising through the same of some pretty amazing second-hand items goes to benefit Hospice care, it’s easy to break into the lineup. For several years now The Hope Chest has been providing Manteca residents not only another place to shop for bargains, but also another place to donate to and know that their generosity is going to a good cause. It isn’t the largest thrift store – the building that they occupy was at one time a supermarket and has since been partitioned into two sections – but it offers a lot more than dirt-cheap clothing and a variety selection of plates and glassware. I think Macklemore would approve. Did I mention that it supports Hospice? 208 S. Main Street, (209) 824-5638.

• B&B Consignments
– Looking for that vintage look and feel? This is the place for you. This quaint boutique has carved out a niche with its unique offerings of shoes and purses and jewelry and other accessories that you simply can’t find at a lot of other thrift stores. And not everything in here is necessarily meant for a thrift store rack. Being a consignment store, some of the items, albeit used, are still in extremely good shape. Maybe you want something that’s already broken in. Maybe you want that depreciation equivalent that comes as soon as somebody walks out the door of a store. Either way, you’re going to find it here. 220 N. Main Street, (209) 665-7934.