Seeing the Light in South Florida

Thrift stores remind us of the old Mickey Mouse Club’s “Anything Can Happen Day.” Why? Because you can never predict the kind of merchandise and prices you’ll find once you cross the threshold.

This came into sharp focus at the Our Lady of Light Thrift Shop in Bonita Springs, Florida, which is south of Fort Myers. As with most Florida thrift shops, it’s a combination of clothes, housewares and furniture. But unlike most thrift stores, its prices are all over the map.

Skip the designer rack and front-of-the-store handbag collections, which have wildly inflated prices for resale merchandise. ($50 for an orange leather handbag slightly marred by ink stains and created by an unknown designer? Or dated St. John cardigans for $125 and stretched-out cashmere pullovers for $30? I don’t think so.) Hit the regular racks instead, where you’ll find good to top labels at moderate ($6 to $15) prices instead.


We scored a terrific crisp 100 percent cotton Ralph Lauren purple and white striped shirt for $8, an aqua crunch pleated jacket for $7 and a Kim Rogers black and red long-sleeved polyester/spandex shirt for $6.

Red blouse

Our shopping buddy found a leopard pencil skirt by Jones NY for $7, which was so flattering she wore it later that day for a dinner date. Pro tip: Hold garments up to judge sizes, rather than depend on the label. The size marked was a 0 and she actually wears a size 4. Examining it, she realized it was either mislabeled by Jones NY or vanity labeled (making shoppers think they’re a smaller size).  If she had relied on the label, she would have pushed past it on the rack and denied herself a great-looking bargain.

We also found a white 100 percent cotton Gilligan & O’Malley nightgown in pristine condition for $10, but left it for another lucky shopper.

If you truly desire the designer goods, visit this store on Magical Mondays, the first Monday of each month, where purchases are marked down 20 to 75 percent. There’s also a clothing sale on the third Friday of each month, with everything marked down by half.

We don’t want to be too hard on nonprofit thrift stores with scratch-your-head pricing, as we realize they rely on a rotating cast of volunteers to sort and price goods.

In the case of Our Lady of Light, all proceeds assist the annual Catholic Faith Appeal, which serves a multitude of charities throughout southwest Florida. So even if you pay slightly more than usual thrift store prices for an item that really appeals to you, your dollars go for a good cause.

Our Lady of Light Thrift Shop, The Shoppes at Pelican Landing, 24600 S. Tamiami Trail, Suite 600A, Bonita Springs, FL 34134.  239-992-1576.

 Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday – Saturday

Bonita sales





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