Desks and chairs, dressers and lamps, cribs and mattresses, some new and some used, line the sidewalk in front of the This and That variety store on East 33rd and Pine Avenue in Erie.
The store’s interior is even more interesting with its vintage feel. A middle-aged man stands behind a counter that holds old costume jewelry, glittering in the sunlight through key chains and sunglasses in the window.
Owner Don Coffman has operated This and That for just over a year and says his business fluctuates.
“It’s on and off,” he says. “My store is popular for its furniture. People buy it as soon as it comes in. I don’t usually have it for more than a day.”
His most common shoppers are middle-aged women and college students, he says, as a mother and her young son enter the store, perusing Halloween costumes at the entrance.
The store offers consignment, where customers ask the store to sell their personal items. This and That also buys items back from people after they’ve used a product.
“This is especially popular with college students in the surrounding area and makes This and That unique,” Coffman said.
Anyone can sell at This and That. Simply bring in gently used or new items and Coffman will sell or buy them if they’re worth it.
“What’s nice about our store is that we offer a 75 percent return on items we sell for people. Most other consignment stores only give back 50 percent,” Coffman said.
Coffman also sells items on eBay for his own personal business and for customers, too. “I just sold a cookie jar for $50 yesterday,” he said.
Regardless of whether the economy is in a downfall, Coffman is finding ways to keep his store thriving; he continues to sell inventory.
Amy Cobb, owner of Cobb’s Second Time Around Thrift Shop at 2630 Parade St. in Erie, said, “There has definitely been an increase in sales and a change in demographic of shoppers.”
Cobb opened the store three years ago as she was looking to start a small business and purchases most of her inventory from auctions and estate sales, while people also bring in items to consign. She claims that not only has there been a rise in sales, but a rise in the consignment trend as well.
“People call the store and come in all day asking me to sell their belongings,” Cobb said, “And my most common shoppers are in their mid-30s and 40s.”
“We sell a lot of furniture, used DVDs and knick-knacks,” Cobb said. “People buy secondhand items for the obvious reason that it’s cheaper than buying new.”
Secondhand shopper and Mercyhurst College senior Marissa Stuart found several items in secondhand stores including a vintage jacket purchased in New York City and a Calvin Klein shirt found locally.
“I enjoy buying from secondhand stores because you can find things that are more unique or something that not everyone else has,” Stuart said. “Each item has a story behind it, so it makes the experience really cool.”
Stuart said, “The key to any secondhand shop is looking at everything and taking your time because sometimes you don’t see the potential right away.”
“Typically I don’t go into any store with a set item I want. However, I do tend to look for jackets, dresses and jewelry. I usually find items that are much more appealing and different than items found in retail stores,” she said.
A few popular thrift stores locally include Plato’s Closet, located in the Summit Towne Center Plaza off of Peach Street, Thrifty Shopper at 914 State St., Salvation Army at 1209 Sassafras St. and Goodwill at 2526 East Ave., all in Erie.
For a list of other consignment and thrift stores, visit goerie.com.