Usually only decorators and black-belt shoppers check out thrift stores first when looking for quality home furnishings. Many consumers think thrift stores are tacky, and many are. Some, however, offer upscale resale with choice items at rock-bottom prices. In many instances, new merchandise donated by local manufacturers and retailers is on the floor.
One such thrift store source is the group of shops operated by the American Cancer Society, where the inventory varies at each location. When the Pasadena store opened last year, a handsome custom-made sofa didn't last long at $300. Quality brass floor lamps tagged $50 had been $140 at a major upscale department store.
Retailers who donate merchandise usually want to remain anonymous because some unscrupulous shoppers were buying donated merchandise for a song and returning it to the department store for a refund at the original retail price.
At the Discovery Shops, there's always a fair amount of name brand apparel on the racks--some new, some not. I've seen new Bally shoes for men marked $20 and 100% silk Ann Taylor blouses for $14.99. Several months ago, at the Pico Boulevard location, a London Fog women's raincoat in perfect condition was a mere $30.
New, used, modest or top quality, everything is one-of-a-kind at the Discovery shops.
The Sherman Oaks location is the biggest and best one I've seen yet. A lovely walnut credenza and hutch was $400. Some of the clothes were as good as those found at the ritziest resale shops. I purchased a 100% black wool blazer with the Robinson's label ($25), a 100% pure camel's hair jacket (also $25) and a wool-blend red plaid scarf ($7.50)--all in mint condition. Total bill: $62.24. New, the scarf would have cost $60 alone, plus another $500 for the jackets. Now that's bargain shopping at its best.
There were clothes for men as well, but I was having so much fun hunting for treasures for myself, I didn't take great notes on the men's apparel. But a swell-looking black leather golf bag was $40.
The Discovery Shops always need good salable merchandise: clothing, household items, books, furniture, jewelry and antiques. By selling donated merchandise they are able to make a substantial contribution to the fight against cancer. To donate furniture, call the store nearest you to arrange for pickup.
* Northridge: 9719 Reseda Blvd., (818) 772-0194.
* Sherman Oaks: 4454 Van Nuys Blvd., (818) 905-9141.
* Valencia: 23132 Valencia Blvd., (805) 287-9088.
* Ventura: 434 E. Main St., (805) 643-3422.
* Beverly Hills: 9327 Pico Blvd., (310) 276-6812.
* Inglewood: 201 N. La Brea Ave., (213) 677-2555.
* Los Angeles: 318 S. Robertson Blvd., (213) 274-7568.
* Pasadena: 77 N. Raymond Ave., (818) 793-3004.
Each of the Southern California Discovery Shops is manned by volunteers and open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. MasterCard/Visa accepted.
For more information, contact Discovery Shop Headquarters, 315 Arden Ave., Suite 11, Glendale , (818) 956-8052.