Local stores offer wallet-friendly shopping that is easy on the environment
Published: Sunday, August 24, 2008As students are faced with the blank slate of new dorms and new apartments this week, many will run to Target or Wal-Mart to fill their rooms with colorful and affordable items.
But before purchasing the same green chair or pink rug owned by five other people on your floor, consider the local alternatives.
On Government Street — a few miles north of campus — sits Honeymoon Bungalow and Time Warp Boutique.
At these vintage stores, they sell only dateable items, not new imitation products termed “retro.” The store’s stock is selected by quality and decade, unlike bulk donations at thrift stores.
From a ’50s table lamp to photographs of campus from the ’20s, the Bungalow focuses on mid-century housewares, and its stock is divided into rooms of a house. For instance, couches and chairs are in the living room area, china and cookbooks in the kitchen.
Marsha Rish, owner of both stores, said she fell in love with the history of used items.
“It has a soul. It has a story to tell,” she said. “We’re like a foster home. We take [an item] in, clean it and take care of it until someone else comes in, buys it and loves it.”
Rish said now that retro is in style, she has more competition from corporations like Old Navy and Urban Outfitters.
“Everybody wants to get on the vintage bandwagon,” said Joshua Holder, Time Warp Boutique manager and University alumnus. “At the mall, it’s all the same styles in six different color schemes. Here, no two pieces are alike.”
Both Rish and Holder emphasized that vintage items tend to be higher quality and better design.
“People buy vintage because it fits better,” Holder said. “You don’t have to fit this box that the store says is a size 4.”
Holder said when many of the clothes he sells were made, women did not walk out of a store until the outfit was tailored to their body.
“A seamstress made your dress, not a small child in Cambodia,” said Holder.
Holder and Rish also encourage customers to customize and alter their purchases to fit their tastes. From cutting the sleeves off a dress to re-upholstering a couch, just because it is old does not mean it cannot be updated.
But vintage is not the only way to go when looking for affordable, used items. Baton Rouge is teaming up with thrift stores like Goodwill, Salvation Army and St. Vincent De Paul’s.
One local thrift store —The Purple Cow — supports the Christian Outreach Center, a combined ministry of several downtown churches. Money from sales goes to help local, low-income families.
Founder Lin Loghran helped start the store five years ago. She said she sees a lot of college students in the store.
“It just makes so much sense,” she said. “It’s obviously better to keep re-using things than to throw them away.”
Loghran said with the declining economy, she is seeing more new people in the store.
“Right now thrift stores are really having a resurgence of popularity,” she said.
The Purple Cow sells mostly clothing, but it also sells housewares, books and records.
“It’s a kind of an inexpensive way to decorate your room,” she said.
Rachel Clark, music education sophomore, decorated most of her apartment with thrift store purchases.
“You spend so much money during college that there’s no reason to spend more than you have to on things you could get for a lot cheaper,” Clark said.
Clark said she was raised to appreciate bargain-hunting.
“Part of it is the thrill of the hunt,” she said. “I enjoy digging through the trash to find the treasure.”
Clark warned that thrift store shopping is not for those that need instant gratification. She said part of it is waiting for items to come in that fit her taste.
Rish has two pieces of advice for vintage and thrift store shoppers.
“No. 1, don’t be in a hurry. Take your time,” she said. “No. 2, if you see something that makes your heart pound, buy it because it might not be there tomorrow.”
Contact Lauren Walck at firstname.lastname@example.org