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Shoppers Want More Second Chances Than Second Helpings

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Thrift, discount stores see sales soar

By Chris Levister –

When Vincent and Rose Thomas made their annual predawn shopping trek on Black Friday, this year they made it clear that they were only going to spend so much money.

"So far we're sticking to our budget," said Vincent, an out of work construction worker.

In early November, the Thomas' did something they've never done before. They drew up a budget.

"We sat the kids down and told them the truth about our financial situation. Then we created a no frills budget that included one new toy for each child and a scavenger hunt at a local thrift store."

On this chilly morning the Thomas', with their three girls in tow are hunting for bargains at the Salvation Army thrift store in San Bernardino.

First stop, the vacuum cleaners.

"Our's broke six months ago," said Rose. "The carpets are overdue for a good cleaning."

Their eyes catch a slightly used Hoover Wind Tunnel upright. At 60% off the manufacturer's suggested price, it's a deal.

Nearby the Thomas' three girls are engaged in a 'friendly' tug of war over a Disney 'Just One Kiss' Princess Tiana Doll. It's missing a shoe. No problem said Rose 'that can be fixed'.

The girls settle on the Princess doll, along with a Disney Princess Beauty Tote.

With budget dollars to spare Vincent found a set of wrenches, the girls bagged a Laloloopsy Doll (Pepper Pots 'n Pans), and Rose found a new set of luggage, and a new pair of designer boots.

"Full price at the mall. Half off here...I win," she said with a big grin.

The holiday grab is under budget.

A stroll through the Thomas' modest home you wouldn't think that more than half of their belongings were purchased at huge discounts.

"We found this sofa and dinette set at Goodwill."

Goodwill and the Salvation Army along with consignment and thrift shops are some of the Thomas' regular stops.

Last year the family purchased a flatscreen TV at a Rialto thrift store.

"If you don't want to wait in lines to get discounts, why not go to shops where there are always discounts," said Rose. "We're hooked on giving things a second chance."

"The days of needlessly paying full price are over. We can't afford it, more importantly sticking to a budget helps teach our girls how to manage their money and how to live within their means," said Vincent.

"We want them to save money for college not Disney. This way they can have their cake and eat it too," he said.

Like the Thomas', a lot of folks are trying to fill their Christmas list without busting their budget this year.

Area thrift stores are cashing in by offering deep discounts to lure shoppers hunting for deals.

Hoping not to get left out small businesses are operating under the banner "Saving the brick and mortars our nation was built on." Sponsored by American Express the campaign considers life without small businesses.

"What independently owned businesses would you miss if they disappeared? Stop in. Say hello. Buy something for a loved one or someone less fortunate. Keep small business in business. The campaign urges let go of "Big Box" and "Shop Small."

We've become pretty anti-traditional Rose explained. "We're kind of anti mall. We're supporting the small businesses in our neighborhood.

"It's less stress, we live within our means and its better for the environment," said Vincent. "We celebrate our friends and family not material things."

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