The opening of a thrift store in Utah County is nothing new, but a thrift "department" store may be.
The new Orem store, Savers, is owned by a company headquartered in Bellevue, Wash., called TVI, and boasts low prices on secondhand goods in an open, colorful department store setting.Other thrift stores in the area like the idea, too.
Roger Martin, who is on the board of directors for Provo's Community Thrift and Relief Store, said, "I have thought for a long time that Orem needed a thrift store."
Though he doesn't see a problem with this new large thrift store which gets its donations from the same area, Martin said he will wait and see what happens.
According to Scott Blomquist, director of marketing for the Orem store at 81 N. State Street, the Savers store will work with a local charity to organize campaigns to telephone local residents and ask for donations of unwanted goods and clothes, and then the items are sold to the Savers store.
Blomquist said the store reimburses the organization for its expenses as well as buying the clothes, so it can't lose in its fund-raising efforts.
In Utah, TVI is working with the Utah Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
"Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of Utah County residents, we will now have the opportunity to provide more direct services in this area to people with multiple sclerosis," said MeriLyn Barrutia, executive director of the Utah chapter.
Blomquist said that all the items in the store when it opened on Oct. 9 had been donated by people in Utah County.
He also told of one charitable organization that earned more than $200,000 in its first year with a TVI store in Alaska.
"That is entirely possible here," he said.
Some people have been looking for a store like this.
Ian Hendricks, 17, moved to Pleasant Grove from Arizona about four months ago and said he was just waiting for a store like this to open in the area.
"There are a lot of thrift stores where I came from," he said. And they always seem to stay stocked and have a good selection and good prices.
Blomquist said the idea behind Savers is to give people a reason to come back to the store.
Savers tags the items with a different color each week, Blomquist said. "If the item is there for three weeks it is marked down further, and if it is there for five weeks it is taken off the rack."
That means Savers has a complete inventory turnover every five weeks.
Not bad for a store with 200,000 pieces of merchandise, Blomquist said. "Every day we put 7,000 new items onto the store racks."
One shopper from Orem was happy but wary.
"I found something that I have been looking for for a long time," she said. They have good prices and good merchandise, but the real test is to see what happens after the grand opening.
"It is nice to have a place like this close to home," she said.
The Orem store is the 35th U.S. outlet, with 22 stores in Canada, and Blomquist said the company is planning to open stores in Salt Lake City and Ogden within a year.
"Once people see our store, they are amazed," said Al Mark, Orem store manager. "They don't expect a thrift store to look like a department store, with large, brightly-lit interiors, well-organized displays and a constantly changing inventory."
Mark said the merchandise is priced 60-80 percent below retail and it is mostly used clothing and household items. A few items are new.
The store accepts Visa, MasterCharge and personal checks and has a "satisfaction guaranteed" policy. Items may be returned within seven days of purchase.
Savers employs 40 people as well as others who are employed by the Multiple Sclerosis chapter as solicitors and truck drivers.
"Shopping at Savers is always a fun experience," Mark said. "But the important thing to remember is that your purchases help fund important programs and research efforts for multiple sclerosis in the local community."