Stark County discount, thrift stores see more customers amid inflation

CANTON ‒ Preserves. Beauty products. Over-the-counter medication.

Shoppers head to Family Wholesale on Cromer Avenue NW in hopes of saving money on a number of household items. The discount store sells everything from dog treats to patio furniture at prices 30% to 70% below retail prices. And in recent months, the store has seen its customer base increase.

Jason Stout, president of Family Wholesale, said it’s common for clearance sales, thrift stores and other discount retailers to see an increase in shoppers during times of inflation.

“(It’s) a time when people need to save money, so they start exploring, you know, non-traditional alternatives,” he said.

Buyers in the United States continue to feel the effects of high inflation. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an inflation rate of 8.5% in July, down slightly from the 9.1% year-over-year inflation rate in June. Gasoline prices fell during this period, but expenses such as food and housing increased.

Family-owned wholesale business in Guangzhou.  Friday August 26, 2022.

Stout started his business in 2016. He buys and sells surplus or clearance merchandise from many national everyday brands. Shoppers who come to Family Wholesale may not find a specific brand, but they can expect something similar. Stout said the store can provide significant savings for people who need to save money.

“A lot of times when times are tight, it’s the difference between putting gas in your car or maybe taking your spouse out to dinner. Doing something you wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise,” he said. he declares.

He said he thinks inflation combined with back to school might help explain Family Wholesale’s recent growth. The store has moved a lot of school supplies and clothing lately, he said.

The Goodwill Thrift Store located across from Jackson Twp.  Police department.

Other Stark County discount retailers have also noticed an increase in customers.

“I can’t say we can definitively cite inflation as the reason, but we’ve seen an increase in sales,” said Maureen Ater, vice president of marketing and development at Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio. . “Everyone is trying to save money these days, and buying used is a great way to save money.”

Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio serves 10 counties in Ohio and West Virginia. It has stores in rural and downtown areas.

Like Stout, Ater said Goodwill stores are typically busier in late summer as students prepare to return to class. Rising inflation mixed with a flurry of back-to-school shoppers, she said, could be responsible for the sales growth.

“People walk through our door every day to save money, so it makes sense that in times of inflation we would definitely see an increase in customers entering Goodwill stores,” Ater said.

Eric Strata, owner of Black Sales Liquidation at Alliance, said he’s noticed more customers visiting his store at 308 E. Main St. since day-to-day spending began to rise. The store sells a variety of merchandise, ranging from clothing to children’s toys.

“I feel like the more inflation goes up, the more these retail stores raise their prices, the more people come to see me,” he said.

Goodwill sees growing demand, fewer donations

More buyers mean an increased need for goods. But Ater said donations to Goodwill stores tend to decline in times of inflation.

“People hold things a little longer,” she said. “They may not be letting go or changing things in their lives like clothes or household items as quickly or as they would during times when there is no inflation or prices are not not as high.”

Items such as pots, pans, dishes and other household necessities have been donated less frequently over the past year or so, Ater said, while demand for these products has increased. She said it was important for people to know that when they donate or shop at Goodwill stores, they are helping their communities.

“We want to keep those shelves full, and we want to make sure we have a great selection for that demand that we see at this time of year from shoppers,” she said.

The parking lot at the Goodwill store in North Canton was packed with cars early Friday afternoon, with many shoppers coming and going through the doors.

Tiffany Roper, 38, is a passionate thrift shop. The Akron resident owns Thrift Theory & Style, a styling firm specializing in second-hand clothing. Roper said she frequents several thrift stores in northeast Ohio several times a week, looking for unique pieces to buy.

Her shopping habits haven’t changed amid rising inflation, she says, but she’s noticed higher prices at thrift stores on items like clothes.

“I like shopping at Goodwill because it’s still quite affordable,” she said.

Another customer, Maggie Nyeste from Green, said she had always been a big thrift shop but had become “more thrifty than before”. She said she looked for a variety of items in the thrift store and often bought items to donate to homeless people.

The Salvation Army sees customers coming back

The Salvation Army in northeast Ohio has noticed an increase in shoppers at its thrift stores since the drop in gas prices.

“The increase in petrol, when it was happening, really reduced the people who came to see us on a regular basis because it was too expensive to go out. It’s better now. So as the price of petrol has come down , we’re starting to see more buyers have started coming out again,” said Maj. Van Wirth of the Salvation Army’s Northeast Ohio Division.

In addition to the return of regular clients, the agency has seen new ones. Wirth said he recently had a conversation with a first-time shopper at one of the Salvation Army thrift stores.

“What brought you here today?” Wirt asked.

“I’m looking to cut my expenses though,” the woman said.

The children’s section has been popular lately, Wirth said, as parents shopped for clothes to get their children ready for the new school year.

Meanwhile, donations have remained “pretty solid”.

Wirth said funds from Salvation Army thrift stores help provide support to its adult rehabilitation centers for those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. According to its website, the Northeast Ohio Division of the Salvation Army has rehabilitation centers in Akron, Cleveland and Toledo.

Donations skyrocketed when the pandemic started, Wirth said, but numbers have since returned to normal.

Eric Strata is the owner of Black Sales Liquidation in Alliance.  He is shown in his store in June in this file photo.

Stout said he’s happy his store can help people stretch their dollars.

“At times like this, it makes you feel a little better about your business because you really start to realize the service you’re giving to the community,” he said. “You increase (people’s) buying power because our daily prices are 30-70% below retail, and then we periodically run even bigger sales throughout the store.”

Similarly, Strata said its goal when opening Black Sales Liquidation was to do good in its hometown of Alliance. He said he felt the support from the community as customers searched for deals.

“I really feel like over the last six to eight months people have enjoyed my business so much and appreciated the awards so much,” Strata said. “I mean, I hear it every day when I call them and give them their total. They’re so shocked, and they thought it would be so much more.”

Contact Paige at 330-580-8577 or [email protected], or on Twitter at @paigembenn.