The Worst Thrift Store in America … Perhaps

It may be a bit of a stretch to declare that Community Thrift Store in East Dundee, Ill. is the worst thrift store in America – I haven’t shopped at all of them! But I have patronized no less than 200 thrift/resale stores in states including Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. This place epitomizes the worst in thrift – grossly inflated prices, dingy old clothes, chipped dishes and figurines, filthy displays, screaming kids – all to benefit the avarice of a grungy for-profit business. I suspect that the location in Gurnee is owned by the same person given the reviews on Yelp.

This place really brought out my inner grouch. Every time I spotted a rip-off, which pretty much applied to everything in the store, I grumbled so loudly to Jeff that I am surprised one of the clerks didn’t kick us out. This thrift store does NOT benefit any charitable cause, making it even more deplorable. Most of the patrons looked like people who have to shop at thrift stores. I hate when people less fortunate are ripped off.

The prices at this store are absolutely insane – costume jewelry sets for $39.91; new shoes for $29.91 to $75.51; unfashionable, used and often stained shoes with gum and debris on the soles for $7.17 to $24.91; used stuffed animals for as much as $5.51; and battered pots and pans for as much as $24.41. I also don’t understand the point of such odd pricing – most thrift stores price items at an even $4.00 or $4.99, for example. I guess these prices follows some logical pattern if you are a bit warped – and this owner must be to price items so outrageously.

I don’t understand why people are paying far higher prices at this run-down joint for used junk than they would for new goods at clean retail outlets. Many of the bedraggled, beat-up goods found here can be purchased new at Marshalls, T.J.Maxx, Burlington Coat Factory, Nordstrom Rack, J.C. Penney, Tuesday Morning, Target, Wal-Mart, and countless other stores throughout suburban Chicago. In fact, Spring Hill Mall is located less than 3 miles away and several strip malls are even closer.

Most perplexing is that this store was very crowded with shoppers and many were Hispanic. The only answer I have is that people assume thrift stores are synonymous with bargains – and when these stores are run by decent citizens they very well can offer up a Pandora’s box of treasures and bargains. I can forgive slightly overpriced items at thrift stores that benefit charity, but this place is truly egregious. The owner of Community Thrift Stores should be ashamed of his or her unparalleled greed!

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