Local thrift stores that give back: A guide to popping tags the philanthropic way

Story by Rhiannon Gilbert / Managing Editor 

A couple decades ago, thrift shopping used to be sort of taboo. The economy was good, casual wear meant something different than it means today and the snob-appeal mindset persisted and eschewed second-hand clothing. Along came a recession and Macklemore, and all that quickly changed. Now bargain hunters happily boast about getting the lowest prices, and many college students agree that Goodwill is the first place to go when they’re in the market for new stuff. As much of a bargain staple as Goodwill is, there are other unique thrift stores right in Murfreesboro’s backyard, and most of them are nonprofits that exist to give back to the community. If you’re looking to kick your thrift shopping game up a notch, try these places on for size:

The Garden Patch Thrift Shoppe

Located at 309 S. Spring St., The Garden Patch is an extension of Greenhouse Ministries by the square. The store offers very low-priced, high-quality clothing for both women and men in a cozy, modern boutique atmosphere. Some décor and housewares are also available, and they sell furniture in another section outside.

Prices on most clothes range from $2 to $5. The best part? All the proceeds from the store help fund Greenhouse Ministries’ various programs designed to help Murfreesboro’s homeless.

“We like to say ‘when you see people on the street, help them by helping us,’” said store manager Sharon Thomas. “We feed people Tuesday through Friday with food boxes, and we have… learning programs with GED classes and computer classes — things to help people improve skills so they can get better paying jobs.”

MTSU students get an even better deal on Thursdays when everything in the store is 25 percent off with your student ID.

All Things Possible Bargain Center

At 2061 Lascassas Pike, what used to be a Food Lion has transformed into a sprawling showroom of odds and ends. This probably isn’t the first place you want to go if you’re just looking for clothes, but if you need to get inventive for projects or costumes, this treasure trove has likely got you covered. Old kitchen appliances, receipt printers, suitcases and wedding dresses are among its many offerings, along with furniture, wheelchairs and antique sewing machines.  Particularly old and ornate things are pricey, but the rest is very inexpensive.

The money spent at All Things Possible helps support entrepreneurial and leadership programs for young people in the Middle Tennessee area through non-profit organization Youth About Business.

Habitat for Humanity ReStore

Located at 850 Mercury Blvd., the ReStore is like The Garden Patch in that it serves as a fundraiser for Murfreesboro’s branch of Habitat for Humanity. That’s where the similarities stop though — the ReStore is strictly bargain hardware heaven. If you’re renting or remodeling a house or need materials or props for a project, this is a great place to go before hitting up Lowes or Home Depot.

“We have cabinets, windows, doors, furniture, area rugs, flooring products, artwork — really anything you could use for any type of residential remodel,” said store manager Josh Chapel.

Everything is donated from local businesses and private individuals, so the furniture tends to be nicer than what you would find at All Things Possible, but it’s usually more expensive, too. Chapel estimates that everything in the store is generally around 50 percent of the retail price.

Outreach Thrift Store

Outreach Thrift Store is a for-profit store with two locations in Murfreesboro: 1715 S. Rutherford Blvd. and 810 NW Broad St. Outreach is an understated little store filled with clothes, shoes and basic housewares. At Goodwill, you usually need to dig through mountains of clothes to get to “the good stuff.” That isn’t really a problem at Outreach, where lots of name-brand tags can be easily found and everything has a consistently good quality. And if something doesn’t? It’s priced lower! Unlike some larger stores that seem to put the same price tag on sheer undershirts as they do on slacks, Outreach’s prices tend to match their products. If you spend a dollar or two more on an item, you know you’re getting your money’s worth.

Outreach works with over 40 local agencies that refer people in need to the stores, so they have access to affordable, quality clothing and housewares.

This story originally ran in MTSU Sidelines’ February 2017 print edition. Read the full edition here

For more information, contact Editor-in-Chief Sarah Grace Taylor at editor@mtsusidelines.com

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