WEST VALLEY CITY — Bub Fowers expects a rush of customers at the Salvation Army thrift store midmorning Friday, just about the time that store shelves at big box stores have been emptied of Black Friday doorbusters.
"Last year, we had quite a few shoppers that time of day. After 10, 11 o'clock, we sure get real busy. That seems to be about the time that the stores with the five- or six-hour sales are running out of the things they advertised," said Fowers, who manages Salvation Army Family Stores in Murray, West Valley City and Ogden.
When they hit the Salvation Army stores, they'll find more bargains — 50 percent off furniture and clothing. "I think the things we sell are comfortably priced so it's a little easier to get some stuff," Fowers said.
The Salvation Army stores are among a number of Utah thrift, consignment and resale stores seeking a piece of the Black Friday pie. A number of stores are offering deep discounts to likewise lure holiday shoppers looking for bargains but provide a more personalized shopping experience.
Adele Meyer, executive director of the National Association of Retail and Thrift Stores, said thrift, resale and consignment shops benefit from a critical mass of people in the mood to shop.
"Once people get out shopping, they stay out shopping," Meyer said in a telephone interview from the association's headquarters in St. Louis.
Thrifts, consignment and resale shops have a lower price point to start and regular customers enjoy the good customer service they receive, often from the store owners themselves, Meyer said.
Beyond that, these types of stores offer the thrill of the hunt.
"It's truly exciting when you find this really great buy. It's not the kind of buy that there's 100 of them on a store counter," Meyer said. "It's a unique great buy."
Name Droppers consignment store observes the first big weekend of holiday shopping by putting everything on sale at both of its locations, said owner Tiffany Colaizzi. Name Droppers operates a consignment store at 3355 S. Highland Drive and an outlet at 2350 E. Parleys Way.
The first 100 people in the store Friday will receive a coupon for $10 off their purchases, which will already be marked down 10-50 percent. Meanwhile, savings up to 75 percent will be offered at the outlet. To enhance the party atmosphere at the Highland Drive store, Colaizzi has hired a DJ to help entertain shoppers on Friday.
"We will be put out new (arrivals) on all three of those days," Colaizzi said, explaining that the Highland Drive store will also be open from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. "It's all about the thrill of the find."
While some people have started shopping in consignment or resale shops as the recession has continued, most customers are regulars.
"More people are turning over their items (clothing, accessories,) quite simply, because they need the money," Colaizzi said.
Shannon Black, store manager of the Savers store in Millcreek, 3171 E. 3300 South, said thrifts, resale and consignment shops have experienced some uptick in business during the economic downturn, but many customers shop these types of stores because they enjoy shopping for a good deal.
"I think a lot of people like to find a bargain and they like to find treasures," she said. "We get stuff in this store all the time and we say 'Who would donate this?' "
Savers is offering a Super Savers Club Card for Black Friday shoppers that will discount all used items in the store by 25 percent. The card, Black said, is currently available in stores.
The store offers a wide array of clothing, shoes, furniture, bed and bath items as well as housewares. There is also a good selection of used holiday decorations, she said.
Black said Savers stores are clean, well lit and well organized, which enhances the shopping experience.
"We try to be inviting and fun."
Bargain hunter's glossary:
A consignment shop accepts merchandise on a consignment basis, paying the owners of the merchandise a percentage when and if the items are sold.
A resale shop is the phrase most often used for stores that buy their merchandise outright from individual owners.
A thrift shop is run by a nonprofit organization to raise money to fund their charitable causes. These range from the large Salvation Army/Goodwill chains to individual school, church or hospital thrift shops. Nonprofits can obtain goods through donations or they could operate on a consignment basis—some do both.
Source: National Association of Resale & Thrift Stores