Lomita, California, is known for its railroad museum, a now-defunct comic book store owned by a professional wrestler, and the closest Savers Thrift to Los Angeles. Sadly, I did not have time to stop by the museum on this trip, and missed the window on the comic book store permanently, but I did have a chance to thoroughly inspect their Savers. It was clean, organized, and massive, though I did not find a lot of exceptional deals there. I’m only rating it as a high as I am because of its comprehensive inventory, which makes up for its other shortcomings. Overall rating: B
In the same way a couple can only be as happy as its least happy member, a thrift store can only be as fancy as its surrounding demographic. Lomita is not an especially wealthy area, and so most of the Savers merchandise comes from low-end department stores. The racks of clothing are chock full of Forever 21, Express, and H&M, and the shoe section is mostly brands like Bandolino, Fioni (available at Payless), and Xhiliration (Target). I will break this concept down in a future post, but it’s simply not worth paying much of anything for used items that are shoddily made and won’t wear well, which is most of what “fast fashion” is. In the used market, you have the additional complication of used items being priced comparably to new items on sale from the same maker. If shoppers realized this, and had both options to choose from side by side, they would be very unlikely to buy used.
For example, there are a number of H&M sleeveless/short sleeve women’s tops which sell for between $4 and $7 new in the clearance section on their site while used versions of these from seasons ago are priced at $4.99 at Savers. Similarly, I don’t think anyone would knowingly pay $5.99 for a used pair of shoes from Payless when they knew they could get an equivalent new pair in the sale rack for $10 – $15 unless it was in absolutely pristine condition and there was no comparable new style.
What to buy:
1. Specialty kitchen appliances. When I make a complete list of everything you should never buy new, specialty appliances will be at the top of it. Nobody ever runs their pretzel/homemade pasta/ice cream maker into the ground. Savers had a decent-sized appliance section, and I noticed both a pretzel maker and a tea cake maker (which, I have to admit, I considered purchasing) for good prices. I think this pretzel maker was $7.99, though I see you can actually buy a new one for a little more than double that, so it’s not quite the steal I thought it was.
2. Vacuums/carpet cleaners. They had models from Eureka and Bissell for $9.99 and $19.99. They had what might have been an old model Eureka Boss Smart Vac, which sells for about $150.00 new. Before you commit to a vacuum cleaner, I urge you to confirm that the bags for the model you want are still available. This can be the downfall of an otherwise great purchase. Also, where possible, in both new and used models, I urge you to find a bagless model. Vacuum cleaners can last a long time, and be easily repaired, so get one you can keep for the long haul.
3. Hair dryers/curling irons. $4.99 and $3.99. I couldn’t find any model of curling iron for less than $15.00 new, and I’m sure some of these are higher quality than others.
5. Dresses. Maybe it was pure chance, but I saw a few cute Max Studio dresses for $9.99 and $7.99 here, which is a fair price, though they are very easy to find for around $40.00 in every discount chain you can shake a stick at. They look great on everyone and wear very well!
6. Uniforms. I have never before seen a uniform section in a thrift store. Scrubs are pretty cheap new, but I’d still way rather spend $1.99 on a pair of scrub pants than $8.99, when I would only be buying them through a cloud of resentment that I had to pay for them myself, anyway. Unless they’re obviously stained, they’re not going to look that great no matter what you do.
7. Toys. Savers boasted the least depressing toy section I’ve ever seen in a thrift store, which is kind of like the best performance in the worst movie of the year. Everything looked relatively clean, though I’d be cautious about purchasing toys with a lot of parts missing. I saw a few Bratz styling heads for $7.99 or so, but they didn’t come with all the beauty products they do new, so it’s up to you whether you can make it work without the official styling gel.
It’s also worth checking out their plus-size clothing and kids’ clothes, because those sections were extensive. Certainly kids’ clothes in decent condition seem like a worthwhile endeavor.
What to avoid:
1. Most clothes. See explanation above for their overpricing of mostly low-end labels. In the few instances when Savers had something more upscale on offer, it was no bargain. I saw an Anne Klein pink suit with a jacket with the tags still on, but nonetheless looking like it had sat in someone’s closet for 15 years, for an absurd $119. Why would I ever buy that when I could buy this cute little number at Macy’s right now for $129.99?
3. Decorative items. As usual, these were not competitively priced.
Check out all the photos here.