Frugal holiday shoppers find ways to save
Deanna Mulye refused to enter any store with “mart” in its name when she shopped on Black Friday.
In fact, the North Side resident wouldn't go into any store in which most of the goods hadn't been used before.
Instead, on the busiest shopping day of the year, Mulye, 27, visited a Goodwill store. She bought old books that she will turn into ornaments to give as gifts.
Mulye, who teaches book arts and book binding at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Midland, also uses old shirts and linens she buys from thrift stores to make journals for gifts.
“It's a little more old-fashioned and cost effective” than buying new items, said Muyle, a longtime handicrafter.
Retail experts say the tough economy is spurring more people to cut costs by making their own gifts or shopping at thrift and dollar stores.
According to a November survey of 1,000 people by America's Research Group Ltd. in Summerville, S.C., 27.5 percent said they will give homemade holiday gifts, compared with 14 percent last year.
It's more about tight wallets than rejecting the commercialization of Christmas, said C. Britt Beemer, the survey group's chief executive officer.
“I think it's 100 percent driven by the economy. Consumers have less money, and they are still trying to do something for Christmas, even though they may be making it themselves,” he said.
Becky Maruca, 26, of Ross, an unemployed cabinetmaker, makes wooden ornaments, bottle stoppers and other Christmas gifts for friends and family members. She said she is not motivated by saving money as much as a desire to add a personal touch to her presents.
“Every gift you make, you're giving away a piece of you. It's a much greater gift than going out and buying something,” she said.
Overall, consumers are expected to spend conservatively this year, an average of $749.51 on gifts, décor, greeting cards and more. That's up from $740.57 in 2011, according to the National Retail Federation, a Washington-based trade association.
On the other hand, NARTS: The Association of Resale Professionals, a trade group representing 1,000 thrift and other resale stores, said 35.3 percent of its members reported an increase in sales of holiday items purchased as gifts in 2011 from the year before. The group, based in St. Clair Shores, Mich., uses the NARTS abbreviation instead of the full name it once used, the National Association of Resale & Thrift Shops.
NARTS expects an increase in sales for members this year. It conducts an annual survey in January to compile its statistics.
Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania has recorded a 50 percent increase in annual retail sales overall since 2008, not just at Christmas, spokesman David Tobiczyk said.
The nonprofit has 25 stores in the region and partly attributes the increase to doing a better job of getting donated goods on sales floors as soon possible, he said. It has made stores brighter and cleaner; merchandises clothing by size; and opened more stores in higher-income areas, such as Robinson and Richland, which led to donations of higher-quality goods, he said.
“I do more Christmas shopping at Goodwill than anywhere else,” said Ron Bonasso, 59, of Hampton as he shopped in the Ross store. He said the thrift store offers unusual and vintage goods, such as the Marvel Comics figurines that he collects.
The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Council of Pittsburgh, a Catholic nonprofit that operates six thrift stores in the Pittsburgh area, has tried to set itself apart from other thrift stores by offering higher-quality goods, and it recycles unusable goods for scrap, said Keith Kondrich, executive director of the Manchester-based organization.
“We always say it's not your father's thrift store,” said Kondrich.
Part of the benefit of shopping at nonprofit thrift stores is that the money goes to support charitable missions, he said.
St. Vincent de Paul's sales benefit the organization's food pantry; provide assistance with utility bills for people in need; and support other programs, he said.
Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- A field day on social media as Pirates’ Rodriguez attacks Gatorade cooler
- Penguins see Stars, blanked by Dallas in opening game
- Starkey: Pirates gaining bad big-game rep
- Steelers quarterback Vick getting more acquainted with offense
- CMU showcases its lengthy list of fledgling companies at venture event
- Downtown Pittsburgh Macy’s donates bits of history
- Westmoreland County candidate admits to summary offenses
- Laurel Ridge rangers on watch for sexual misconduct in park
- Steelers hoping to establish run early against San Diego
- Ohio woman will be milestone passenger to fly out of Arnold Palmer Regional Airport
- Pennsylvania hardliners mum on GOP House leadership