Where is right: successful thrifting is all about location, location, location. Great thrift stores exist in every city, but you have to know where to look. Luckily for you, dear reader, I decided to give up my Saturday morning (oh, the sacrifice!) in search of some good Columbia thrift. I’m not sure if I should be embarrassed or proud, but I’ve been thrifting in Columbia enough times to have a thrift route, and this route invariably begins at His House.
764 Meeting Street, West Columbia
Open Monday — Saturday, 7:30 — 5:30
His House is located far down Gervais Street, which turns into Meeting Street in West Columbia. It’s one of the closest thrift stores to campus, and their reasonable prices make it a great place to start your day of thrifting. The building has 6 rooms with art for sale hanging on every wall. The selection here is great: you can find records, rugs, plates, old electronics, vintage suitcases and lots of National Geographic magazines. You can also browse for chairs and lamps in one of the three rooms dedicated to furniture. And at $1.00 a pop, you can buy clothes and shoes to your heart’s content from their sizeable 14-rack clothes section and shoe wall. Best of all though, you’re helping out the community. This non-profit’s revenue goes towards helping alcoholic and homeless men. His House has three other thrift stores, located at 3708 River Drive in Columbia, 167 Highway 378 (towards Lexington), and 4357 Augusta Road in Lexington. For more information visit HisHouseSC.org
Goodwill Clearance Center
1008 Meeting Street, West Columbia
Monday — Saturday, 9 — 6
Sunday, 1:30 — 5:30
Right down the street from His House is the Goodwill Clearance Center. The least attractive of the bunch, you could call Goodwill Clearance a thrift-store jungle. This is because there are no clothing racks in the large warehouse-style, concrete floored room. All you see is bins. Over 70 of them, actually, piled with everything from toys to bags to books to shoes. Oh yeah, and mountains of clothes. This is where all of the unwanted items from other Goodwills in the Columbia area end up.
Shopping here can be intimidating at first. Those bins are STUFFED with clothes, a lot of which seem less than desirable, and you’ll never find the store free from customers. But like at any good thrift store, perseverance at Goodwill Clearance pays off. In clothing, that is, because you won’t end up paying much at this thrift store. Everything sells at $1.09 per pound (except books, which sell at 25¢ per pound), and everything is 50% off on Sundays. Thrifty, no? Believe me, digging through those bins is worth it. I left with 11 pounds in merchandise, and I could not be happier with the stuff I found.
Stepping Stones Ministry
1916 Augusta Road, West Columbia
Monday — Saturday, 9:30 — 5:30
Stepping Stones has a little bit of everything, including furniture, glassware, books, light fixtures and (of course) clothes. It’s always worth a look in this thrift store if you’re in the area because all clothes are 50¢, shoes are $3.00, belts are $1.00 and furniture varies.
They also offer special discounts to those who are their fans on Facebook. The racks are really well organized, to make looking for any particular item a breeze, and they have a wide enough variety for some fun browsing. The store has a nice, calm shopping atmosphere that's especially refreshing after Goodwill Clearance. And once again, you’re helping out. Stepping Stones is part of a larger ministry that provides transitional housing for recovering addicts. Stepping Stones Ministry also has a second thrift location at 6000A Two Notch Road.
1078 Sunset Boulevard, West Columbia
Monday — Saturday, 10 — 8
Sunday, 12 — 8
My last stop for the day was Thrift Avenue, formerly known as Pets, Inc. This place feels more like a TJ Maxx than a junk store, and prices follow accordingly. This puts Thrift Avenue in a slightly higher price bracket than the other stores I visited, but don't let that deter you! While some things may be pricier, the general condition and quality of items is better than at other stores. Everything is priced individually, so you can definitely find some cheap goodies, and they currently have a buy-one-get-one-free sale on $4 shirts, pants and skirts. Their "stuff" section is set-aside in a huge room, a treasure trove of junk: organs, typewriters, books, sofas, Christmas trees, lanterns, anything. All of Thrift Avenue’s profits go to keeping their pet adoption center running, which is located on 300 Orchard Drive in West Columbia. For more information on pet adoption, visit www.petsinc.org or call (803) 739-9333.
All in all, I spent $30 for three pairs of shoes, four cardigans, five shirts, two belts, three big scarves, four pairs of pantyhose, a pair of dress socks, a necklace and a scarf pin. Not bad for one day’s work.
Do you know of any other great thrift stores in Columbia? Comment and share with us!