a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bizarre thrift store sells by the pound

Shoppers seek bargains at a Pittsburgh-area Goodwill store that sells its merchandise by the pound. Scott Beveridge photo.

By Scott Beveridge

McKEESPORT, Pa. – A Goodwill worker steps out from the back room of a sprawling Pittsburgh-area thrift store to announce the next sale.

"Goodwill shoppers. Please step behind the cash registers," he screams to a room where most customers have already lined up there with their buggies in high anticipation of the incoming merchandise.

About a dozen employees of this store in North Versailles Township, Pa., then scurry about the floor carting away large blue bins on wheels containing merchandise that didn't sell over the past few hours.

"Do people ever fight over this stuff?" I ask the older woman beside me, who has already identified herself as a regular shopper at this Goodwill Outlet at 294 Lincoln Highway.

"Oh my," she replies, as the staff here quickly returns nearly 75 of the carts to the floor heaped with more used bargains. "They sometimes have to call the police."

The same man who ordered everyone behind the cash registers soon invites the shoppers back to the merchandise, with hesitation.

"Please. No pushing or shoving," he says.

Then, as if this Wednesday in late November is Black Friday, the 40 or so customers rush to the bins to sift through the 'new' items for sale.

Most of them wear garden gloves because some this merchandise is filthy dirty or includes broken glassware.

A few people here are immigrants grabbing up cheap, donated shoes and clothing to send home to poor people in Africa, another veteran customer explains. Others are here looking for cheap stuff to line the shelves of their thrift stores.

Goodwill Southwestern Pennsylvania leased this former 96,000-square-foot Ames department store in October 2010 as a way to dump stuff that didn't sell at its other thrift shops in Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has reported.

The bins turn around here about every two hours. The stuff is sold for $1.39 a pound, a price that drops in stages to 59 cents a pound when a customer accumulates more than 50 pounds of merchandise

On this day the bins contain items ranging from a one-piece Jason Voorhees "Friday the 13th Part V" Halloween costume for a toddler to a semi-naked Barbi Doll with a missing leg.

I'm here with one of my aunts, and we spend $34 for a bunch of stuff we actually like.

She went home with a pretty angel to add to her vast collection of them, along with a handmade doily and a cool Steelers raincoat.

I went home with, among other things, an original signed painting of a water scene by an artist named G. Gomez R. and the biggest prize, a small metal toy Porsche.

This is supposed to be the only store of its kind in Pennsylvania, and it's worth a visit, if only once, because it's that bizarre.

An original painting signed by artist G. Gomez R. and purchased for a bargain at a Goodwill Outlet near Pittsburgh. 

1 comment:

Viv Sluys said...

Wow! That sounds really interesting!