Carbondale Thrift Shop offers students an alternative to Goodwill


Jennifer Johnson, of Murphysboro, poses for a portrait Monday, Jan. 23, 2018, at The Thrift Shop in Carbondale. The Thrift Shop, where Johnson serves as store manager, provides items for the public’s purchase but also assists the community in providing clothing and household goods to those in need. “I can not see myself doing anything else,” Johnson said. “My favorite part is helping people – I know our mission [is] to provide clothing and goods to the community in need.” (Reagan Gavin | @RGavin_DE)

By Jeremy Brown, Staff reporter

The Thrift Shop in Carbondale is a community-based store with the sole purpose of giving back to the local community through charitable efforts.

One example is its voucher program.

Thrift Shop manager Jennifer Johnson said the profits from donated goods sold at the store pay for its voucher program.


“Our sole purpose is to take in donated goods, process them and sell them at a very low cost,” Johnson said. “That way we can keep our doors open to help those in need.”

Through the voucher program, the Thrift Shop gives away clothing and other household items to Carbondale’s homeless population, Johnson said.

“We don’t donate to shelters,” she said. “The shelters refer homeless people to us.”

The shop also helps workers get community service hours by working part time at the shop after receiving a court referral, she said.

The shop works with several other organizations, such as the Carbondale Towers and Project Choice, to help those who need community service hours.

Sydney Baumeister, a sophomore at SIU studying Mortuary Science and a cashier at The Thrift Shop, said they help many people who just come in the door.

“Many times if someone walks in and needs a coat, we’ll just give them a coat,” Baumeister said.


If people need essentials, Baumeister said, the Thrift Shop has given pants, shirt, underwear, socks and shoes to those in need.

“If it’s cold, we also give them gloves, a scarf and a hat,” Baumeister said.

Cory Frisby, assistant manager of the Thrift Shop said it has very little presence in Carbondale.

Many people who donate to their competitor, Goodwill, don’t know The Thrift Shop exists.

“I tell people I went to high school with where I work, and they go ‘We have a thrift shop?’ They’ve been here their [whole] lives,” Frisby said.

He said many people who donate household goods just want to get stuff out of their homes and don’t care where they donate to.

Those who donate to their local thrift shops or charities keep money circulating locally, rather than going out of state.

Both Frisby and Johnson said they think it’s important to support the Carbondale community.

“We are not a franchise,” Johnson said. “We are one store in Carbondale. That’s all we’ve ever been, that’s all we’ll ever be. We don’t want anything more.”

Although competing against franchises, Johnson said The Thrift Shop is cheaper than its competitors.

Averaging the prices of store items including, coats, suits, shirts and jeans, Carbondale’s Goodwill Retail Store prices are 36 percent more expensive than The Thrift Shop’s.

Baumeister said if more college students like herself knew about The Thrift Shop, they would all shop there first.

“College students are on a budget,” Baumeister said. “The prices here are pretty freaking great, and on Fridays we do student discount days.”

Mainly older people come in, she said, but every Friday a new customer who is a student will walk in and say “I never knew this place existed, I’m definitely coming back.”

The Thrift Shop doesn’t exclusively sell clothing — its entire basement floor is dedicated to all other donations.

Frisby said every category of goods exists in the basement, ranging from books, electronics and three aisles of assorted knick-knacks.

“We get a little bit of everything, it seems like,” Frisby said. “It’s nice to be able to offer the basic necessities.”

Staff writer Jeremy Brown can be reached at j[email protected] or on Twitter @JeremyBrown_DE.

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