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Davis, California

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Is that your grandma’s coat?

If you’re looking to channel your inner 1970s Barbra Streisand, going with a $15 metallic pink sequin drop V-neck dress might be your best bet. Look no further, because Davis thrift shops and consignment stores have you covered.

“I actually really enjoy fashion and I love putting together different types of clothes and patterns,” said third-year nutrition science major Jessica Stark, who enjoys thrift shopping in Davis. “I think thrift shopping is cool because unlike retail stores focusing on one type or brand of clothing, there are many different types of clothing, and you can mix and match with them.”

Whether you’re on a search for a ridiculous Halloween costume, a hipster sweater, a Gucci purse or a sofa for your awkwardly cramped living room, there is one thing that most people will never pass up: a good deal. Most college students would agree that getting an item for over 70 percent off its original price, even if it may be used, is a undeniable offer.

“Quite frankly, I am broke,” said Emma Kurtz, a cashier at the Yolo County SPCA Thrift Store. “I’ve been paying my way since I was 13 years old. Thrift stores gave me the ability to find things I couldn’t find anywhere else.”

Kurtz has only been working at the nonprofit thrift shop, located in downtown Davis at 920 Third St., Suite F, for the past year and a half but said the store has expanded immensely in the past 20 years.

The Yolo County SPCA, a foster-based organization in Woodland for abandoned animals, is funded by the Davis thrift shop, which is completely independent from the national Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

“[The proceeds go] mainly towards feeding the animals, and medical bills are huge,” Kurtz said. “We pay for all [of] the animals’ shots and [for them to be] spayed/neutered so that more animals won’t overpopulate. It’s very driven towards keeping animals off the streets and out of shelters.”

All items sold in the store are donated, and buy-sell transactions are not accepted. Items for sale include clothing, furniture, electronics, jewelry, shoes, hardware and kitchen items.

“They had a wide variety of clothing, including purses and shoes,” Stark said. “It was pretty well-priced, I thought.”

Kurtz said that many UC Davis students assist in donations and act as customers for the store. In order to encourage more student support, the store offers 20 percent off all items to anyone with a student ID. Students are also offered the opportunity to volunteer time at the thrift store. Kurtz said most currently paid employees were volunteers at some point.

If you’re feeling thrifty, another place to go in downtown Davis is Bohème, located at 409 Third St.

Most items are between $6 and $12, with brands ranging from Old Navy and H&M to Banana Republic and Citizens for Humanity.

“Bohème has fun, quite unique and affordable clothing and items for women and men,” said Bohème owner Dawn Donahue. “We try to provide interesting, practical and affordable used clothing.”

Donahue described her store as different from most thrift and consignment shops, because she will buy selected clothes from the public immediately, as opposed to waiting for the item to sell before paying those who bring clothes to her.

“I believe in thrifting,” Donahue said. “If I don’t think I can sell [an item] or if [it’s] not selling, then I donate it.”

Combining the aspects of consignment and thrift stores is also a characteristic of the All Things Right and Relevant consignment store and R&R Thrift.

These two nonprofit stores are located next to each other at 2801 Spafford St. in Davis. If an item in the All Things Right and Relevant store is not sold after 45 days, it becomes the property of R&R Thrift. The longer an item sits on the shelf of the stores, the cheaper it becomes.

“The money [earned] is distributed equally to 10 different health and mental health agencies,” said store employee Renae Owens.

Along with the funds going toward mental health organizations in Yolo County, consigners get a portion of the proceeds. The store’s systems manager, Kay Ormsbed, said college students are always encouraged and invited to consign or volunteer with the store.

“It’s a positive environment for mental health clients to work and participate in the R&R family,” Ormsbed said. “People can make money from their treasure that will be valuable to someone else.”

Both stores sell a variety of items ranging from clothes to furniture.

Areas surrounding the city of Davis also boast many thrift shops that may appeal to students.

The Thrift Shop Outlet is known for having one of the largest varieties of items in town. The closest store to UC Davis is located at 106 West Main St. in Woodland.

“We sell a little bit of everything. We have all clothing, including kids’ clothing, [women’s] and also [men’s] clothing. We have miscellaneous items that can range from kitchenware to living room items for decoration, to furniture or electrical items,” said store manager Esther, who did not provide her last name due to personal reasons. “We try to have a little bit of everything that you need at home or for yourself.”

The store only accepts donations and does not perform any buy-sell transactions. A portion of the proceeds supports the United Cerebral Palsy organization.

With daily sales and prices generally ranging from 59 cents to $4.99, the Thrift Shop Outlet has gained much attention from customers of all ages.

“I think [thrift shopping] is an easy way to budget,” Esther said. “As a student, you have expenses you have to worry about, like tuition, books, gas and food. You can have great finds at a thrift store, but you might find other items that you weren’t thinking of buying as well.”

For a place closer to home, some students check out the UC Davis Bargain Barn, an on-campus, university-affiliated thrift store.

“[The Bargain Barn] was started because there was a need to keep things in reuse and help departments get rid of items that [they] didn’t use,” said Michelle Borba, coordinator of the Bargain Barn/Salvage Operations. “We sell computers, laptops, microscopes, lab equipment, office furniture and then an assortment of random stuff. Pretty much anything the university is getting rid of will come through here.”

The store opened in the 1970s and moved to its current location, across from the Tercero Residence Halls on La Rue Road, about eight years ago.

“It’s a constant Tetris game in here; we are always trying to figure out where to put stuff,” Borba said. “Students I think are attracted to it because they can get a really good deal sometimes. If they lose their power supply to their laptop, they can come in here and get one for maybe $5 to $20.”

Although the store is only allowed to sell university-owned property because departments are required by policy to dispose of their items through the service, all items are open for students and the public to purchase.

“We are a self-supporting unit on campus, so the majority of the funds that we generate do go to supporting our business,” Borba said. “If an item has a value of $75 or more, we give departments the opportunity to consign it through us, in which they get a part of the proceeds and we get a percentage as well.”

Along with being a great resource for students to use, Borba said using the Bargain Barn is environmentally friendly too.

“What is important to me is that I am helping to reduce landfill waste and I’m keeping things in reuse,” Borba said. “I think a lot of students these days are focused on recycling and sustainability and what they can do for their environment. There’s all kinds of stuff that they can get here for really cheap and [opportunities for them to] help support sustainability at the same time for UC Davis.”

Another option for thrifting in Davis is French Cuff Consignment, located at 130 G Street. According to the store’s website, the boutique was started by a mother and daughter who aim to “provide their customers with great clothes and accessories at great prices.”

In addition to finding unique treats while scavenging for a good deal, many appreciate the people they meet in thrift stores as well.

“You will just never find a more interesting group of folks; everyone here has an interesting back story,” Kurtz said. “Co-workers to customers, everyone I have met here has been a very interesting individual, and it’s very cool.”

The Yolo County SPCA Thrift Store is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Bohème is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. and Monday from 1 to 4 p.m. All Things Right and Relevant/R&R are open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Thrift Shop Outlet is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Bargain Barn is open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on the first Thursday of every month from 4 to 7 p.m. French Cuff Consignment is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

RITIKA IYER can be reached at features@theaggie.org.


  1. […] Is that your grandma's coat? “I think thrift shopping is cool because unlike retail stores focusing on one type or brand of clothing, there are many different types of clothing, and you can mix and match with them.” Whether you're on a search for a ridiculous Halloween costume, a … Read more on The Aggie […]


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