San Diego’s East Village Serves with Heart

Thrift stores typically are located where rents are low. In San Diego, this means there are several charity-run shops in the areas where their homeless clients live – a service to those needing inexpensive clothing. And the stores welcome shoppers with more resources, because they need customers to keep their charitable mission alive.

This is the case with a tidy Goodwill in San Diego’s East Village area, where homelessness is more obvious than other parts of the city. There are a few tents on sidewalks and homeless men and women congregate along storefronts.

A block from the Goodwill is a Humble Heart thrift shop – one of three in the city – but it will be moving after nine years here at the end of July to newer space in the city’s Ocean Beach district. Until then, all clothing is buy one, get one free. This sale yielded us two lightweight summer blouses, a coral chiffon dotted with gold studs, new with tags by A.N.A. (original price $48), and the other a paisley polyester by Venezia, for a total of $6.99.

Both shops help people directly – Goodwill in providing job training and the Humble Heart by supporting First Presbyterian Church’s soup kitchen. Humble Heart also has shops in nearby City Heights and Poway.

Goodwill has a big presence in San Diego – 24 retail stores, plus a San Ysidro outlet store that holds daily auctions on bins of clothes, shoes and accessories. From 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., shoppers hand select items from tables and bins for as little as $1 each. In the afternoon, the clothing that does not sell during the piece sale is sold by weight, and shoppers fill their own totes.

Another Goodwill outlet store in Otay Mesa holds several daily auctions for furniture, bikes and electronics, but no clothing. There’s also a clearance center in North County for clothing and furniture at 50 percent off the already low Goodwill prices.

The small, well-organized Goodwill shop in the East Village has decorated its women and men’s clothing areas with inventive displays. The clothing is organized by color, a trademark of most Goodwill stores.

Long aisle

The jewelry section had a particularly good variety of nice items, with extremely low prices. We bought a stretch bracelet of pale pink stones set in gold metal clasps for $1.

We also couldn’t resist a casual men’s shirt featuring an unusual summer print of purple, red and green fruits and vegetables for $5.99. The brand is ChiaMaré, a vintage 90s brand often sold on Etsy and Poshmark for $32 and up.

San Diego’s temperate climate attracts an outsized number of down-on-their-luck people. Better weather and access to city services boosts the homeless population. Shopping resale at charity thrifts is a small way of helping this city succeed in serving all its residents.

Goodwill, 343 16th St., San Diego, CA 92101.619/794-0199.

Open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

GW sign

Humble Heart Thrift Store, 531 16th St., San Diego, CA 92101.619/238-5555.

Open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.






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