Goodwill Hunting: Thrifting for Money

16 May

Many people thrift as a hobby, or to find inexpensive new clothing. It is fun to search for trinkets and old vintage clothing from decades past. However, some have thrifting down to such a science they make their living off of sifting through bins at stores and outlets.

Chris Hernandez, a graphic communications student at Cal Poly, hunts through local thrift stores in San Luis Obispo for designer sunglasses, and sells them online for market price.

He says when thrift store shopping, there are three things that you have to have:

  • A trusty smartphone
  • Patience
  • A good attitude

He sits down for an early morning coffee at Blackhorse Cafe, with ambient 80’s music casually playing in the background, to share a couple of his success secrets before heading out to search through a secondhand “gold mine.”

After coffee, it was straight to the Goodwill, and the professional thrifters were out in force. A woman named Mary, who Chris says is almost always there, made a passive aggressive joke at Chris as he explained his techniques on sifting through bins.

He said, “Oh I am just showing her around,” to which she responded in a thick Scottish accent, “Oh ya, next thing you know you have have four employees under you.”

It was all in good fun, but the tension was definitely there as people stuck to themselves, hovering over boxes.

There are different techniques used as well. One girl helps them put the clothing on racks because she knows if she helps, they will bring out more stuff.

Some people dig straight to the bottom in order to unearth forgotten goods.

What started as a way to unwind for Chris, has turned into a much bigger enterprise. He is constantly making trips to the post office to drop off packages. Leah Pyron, a friend and coworker, says “it is a pain to ride in his car with all the constant boxes and we always have to make a stop at the post office. But, I am glad for him.”

Chris’ kind attitude and perseverance are really what stick out as traits that help him make this business so successful. Pyron says, “Chris has a great heart. I think that’s the secret to his success.”

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