Save money, give back: thrifting in Memphis

“I’m gonna pop some tags. Only got twenty dollars in my pocket. I, I, I’m hunting, looking for a come-up. This is f—ing awesome,” raps Wanz in Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s hit single “Thrift Shop,” which won the Grammy for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song in 2014.

Wanz is right. This IS awesome. Thrift shopping is the act of participating in eco-friendly shopping. Items sold at thrift stores are all donated, commonly previously-loved and range from clothes to kitchenware to furniture to toys and more. Many thrift stores have missions that give back to their communities. The main thing that stands out about thrift stores is the price of the goods; the items are usually marked at below half of retail value.

“In the summer of my eighth grade year, my friends were thrifting, and I was like, ‘Oh my god. Those are cute clothes for so cheap. I got to get on this,’” Nya Goble (11) said. “Thrifting is super sustainable. You can get a lot of fast fashion clothes without engaging in fast fashion … I also donate clothes I grow out of because they are still cute.”

A poll posted on the Instagram story of @wshsscroll gathered that, out of 80 responses, 52.5% of Spartans thrift shop often. Of 11 responses, the five highest recommended thrift stores in Memphis are Goodwill, City Thrift, Repeat Boutique, Blues City Thrift and The Salvation Army Family Store. Ranging from big organizations to local business, let’s take a deeper dive into what each of these stores stand for and how they work.


Recently remodeled internally, the Goodwill at 6899 Stage Road accepts donations in addition to having the main thrift shop and a bargain barn — commonly referred to as the “bins” — available. The thrift shop is open on Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. (Sophia Aiello)

When most people think of thrifting, their minds run to Goodwill. The organization was founded in 1902 with the mission to break employment barriers by accommodating workers with disabilities and providing the Mid-South with proactive jobs. Beginning sort of as a Robin Hood of stores, founder Rev. Edgar Helms collected donations from the wealthy to bring to the poor in Boston, training and hiring workers to assist with this service.

Donations brought to Goodwill are what keep the store in business; the non-profit puts all profit back into the store for employee development and community programs. The items that are not sold at original listed prices are moved to the Goodwill Bargain Barn, located at a separate entrance on the right side of the store. The items are found in bins and sold at by-the-pound rates. Thrifting does not guarantee that purchases will be made, but this Goodwill location offers double the opportunity. There are fitting rooms located on the right of the store, but be aware that there are no mirrors inside these rooms and only one outside the rooms.

City Thrift:

Big red letters sit above the bright blue donation boxes, catching the eyes of drivers passing through Summer Commons. At 5124 Summer Ave., the store thrives by providing below retail price gently-used items, creating a “treasure hunt shopping experience,” according to their website. (Sophia Aiello)

Turning to the right, records and books line the walls next to shelves displaying mugs and vases. Turning to the left, employees in red aprons check out customers pushing carts filled to the brim with great finds. Facing forward, shoppers have a clear vision down aisles lined with clothes and shoes. Everyday, City Thrift selects certain colored tags for a sale up to 50% off, guaranteeing deals on deals because these stack on top of their Senior Tuesdays for ages 55 and up to get 30% off and Military Wednesdays for active duty military and veterans to get 30% off. When in the mood to shop till you drop, make sure to head over between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

“This is the main one I go to — I love it,” Goble said. “It is convenient; they have nice clothes … but there are some places I don’t check for shoes, and City Thrift is one of them.”

Although it may not be the hot spot for kicks, City Thrift’s deeds make up for it. City Thrift locations all over the nation receive items either from donations or purchase them from nonprofits. After being sorted, they are up for sale; however, not all items get sold, and those leftovers are sent to developing countries with urgent need.

Repeat Boutique:

Snagging front row parking, a customer grabs her belongings before heading into Repeat Boutique to sort through gently-loved items. Open from Tuesday to Saturday at 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., this store is located at 3586 Summer Ave., denoted by the small sign with high heels, clothes and a tie. (Sophia Aiello)

Repeat Boutique is run by Junior League (JL) of Memphis, a local organization focusing on volunteerism of women through education and charity. The employees, who are mostly volunteers with JLMemphis,  are friendly and helpful to customers Despite the common association of boutiques with fashion only for women, the store sells items that range from men’s and women’s clothing to furniture and more.

The items range from vintage to gently used to new with tags, all donations from JLMemphis members and the public, which can be dropped off anytime on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. At the front of the store, there are racks with higher-end brand names, sold at a fraction of the original cost. Venturing to the left, women’s clothing is organized on racks along the wall and on the floor; to the right is the same with men’s and children’s clothing. Beyond the clothes, shelves with household items and furniture can be located. The only downside would be the lack of fitting rooms. 

Blues City Thrift:

Blues City Thrift opened its doors at 6685 Quince Road in 2013 to support local charities and ministries. The store gives proceeds back to the Memphis community through education, healthcare and families in need of support. (Sophia Aiello)

Blues City Thrift works on a cycle — they receive from the community to give back. Clean, usable and unbroken clothing, home goods, furniture, appliances, linens and multimedia can be donated at the store during normal store hours, and monetary donations are also appreciated. Daily deals include 25% off for Military and First Responders and 25% off for students and teachers with ID. 

“It’s a constant new selection,” Hallie Boland (10) said. “I got my friend’s military ball dress there. There are always great things there. I get most of my outfits from there.”

In agreement with Boland, Goble said that Blues City Thrift has a wide variety of items: a great selection of Hawaiian shirts — perfect for themed football games and homecoming days — and several other unique pieces.

The Salvation Army Family Store:

Two sets of glass doors frame the front of The Salvation Army Family Store, enclosing a store filled with great deals. Located at 2679 Kirby Whitten Pkwy, this store is open to shoppers Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m to 7 p.m. (Sophia Aiello)

From women’s dresses to men’s pants to plenty of shoes, this thrift shop has it all. Upon walking in, the store is spacious, organized and welcoming. The clean essence of the store takes away from the common misconception that thrift shopping is always dirty and unsanitary. The store features a tall ceiling, multiple fitting rooms and clear walkways — all important to keep shoppers comfortable.

The Salvation Army is an international organization with a mission to spread the gospel as an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center provides jobs for those seeking sobriety and rehabilitation at The Salvation Army Family Store & Donation Center. The particular branch holds prominence in Memphis’s efforts to provide drug and alcohol recovery programs. All profits from the thrift store goes to the rehabilitation center.