Thrifting in a Covid World

Hello folks!

As a chronically ill and disabled individual I have been socially isolating since April 2020. For almost a year I avoided all medical care that wasn’t emergent and did as much via ZOOM as I could. I learned how to set up for curbside pickups for as much as possible. I also learned how much more expensive food comes when you can’t shop sales/clearance prices and have to pay what the normal price is when you curbside pick it up.

Once I finished my vaccinations in April 2021, I slowly started going out more. Covid rates were down, and I started catching up on medical appointments I’d fallen behind, and doing backyard, distanced, visits with parents. I went into a store or two.

And then covid screams back up, and I’m fully isolated again. I get a booster due to my immunocompromised status, and unemployment ends. I need to earn money somehow as I’m jobless and without benefits. Covid rates are higher than they have ever been, and I’m trying to stay as isolated as possible, but have to earn some funds.

I used to flip items a lot, and it seemed natural to me that doing a bit of thrifting and very quick, masked sales transactions, would likely be the best option as I’ve yet to make anything from my online presence, nor have I been able to find online work from home.

I’m sharing my experience going to several thrift stores over the last few days in terms of value and safety.

I visited my local Deseret industries thrift store and I was pleased to find very good prices on larger items and decor. Clothing was priced a bit high, and since Deseret has a policy of no sales, I’d likely buy clothing at the Goodwill utilizing their $0.99 clothing tag days.

The Deseret store is a large warehouse environment. Super high ceilings, lots of air flow, and automatic dual doors to increase airflow. There were only a handful of people there and it was easy to stay even 15 ft from people. Every employee I saw was wearing a mask properly. This was a really good experience. I felt safe, and feel that my exposure was limited.

I went to the Goodwill. The location is a lot smaller, less airy, and more crowded. Items seem to have jumped up significantly in initial price. Since I haven’t been thrifting for well over a year, price increases were startling. They still have their 50% off tag, and their $0.99 tag though. I didn’t find a darn thing and did not linger. Staff were 75% wearing masks correctly. Didn’t feel as good all over for this one.

Lastly, I visited Habitat for Humanity Restore. You can often find smaller appliances, some decor, or furniture for good prices enabling flipping. This, like Deseret, is a large warehouse environment. Tall ceilings, decent airflow. Doors are not automatic, so usually one is opened at a time, with a pass through of double doors – this limits the airflow somewhat. Prices were dramatically increased. Furniture prices were astonishing. I suffered severe sticker shock seeing standard counter height wood chairs in used condition for $45 a piece. Staff were wearing masks correctly, but half the shoppers were not. This was not the case in the other stores. I’d say this store is the one I felt the least safe, and most exposed. And then everything was so expensive I was glad to get out of there.

Lastly, I visited St. Vincent DePaul thrift stores, which have changed their discount program significantly since I’ve been there. They no longer offer 75 and 90% off items. The highest discount is now 40%. Prices were reasonable compared to other stores. Staff was hit or miss on masking. By this I mean: they wore them, but they wore them incorrectly. IE: nose poking out, or on their chin. Tall ceilings, lots of doors opening for air flow as this location has outdoor shopping areas. There was some gorgeous furniture there, and I could see a chance now and then of scoring something good.

I’d say I spent less than 10 minutes in each store. I ran in, and I ran out. I stayed away from people, and wore an N95. I’m doing my best to limit my exposure while finding ways to generate an income. I’d say I was most comfortable in the Deseret Industries store, but I recently found out they are closing and moving locations, and we’ll see what the new store looks like next month.

These trips were a success. I have several other items to sell in Week TWO (week one results) of my October Road to 1K challenge, so I plan to clean and post these items before searching for more, while also working on other avenues for income.

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