Halloween is Christmas for Thrift Stores!

We’ve said it before, and it gets truer every year. Halloween is the major holiday for thrift stores. In October, they see new customers and customers who might shop there only that month. More and more thrift stores are stocking new costume accessories – witches’ hats, play swords, masks, fake beards, costume makeup, plastic vampire teeth – and gathering costume-appropriate garments in one sales area decorated for Halloween.

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The top photo in this post is from a Goodwill Boo-tique at 524 Santa Monica Blvd. in Santa Monica, CA, as are the two photos above. All the other photos are from the ARC Thrift Store in Denver, CO, at 1515 S. Broadway, south of downtown, where there were plenty of costumes and accessories at “Halloween Headquarters.”

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At the checkout, we happened to meet Liz Barron, an enthusiastic costume-maker who depends solely on thrift shops to outfit her extended family of 12 for Halloween. Liz (shown below) was at the ARC for the second time in two days, she laughed. “ARC is the best,” she said. She was looking for costume items for a dozen people — herself and her husband, their children and spouses, and three grandchildren ages 5, 8 and 10. The former English teacher used to collect vintage clothing from thrift stores and is adept at finding choice items. (Just yesterday, at a Goodwill, she found a pristine, “gorgeous” straw hat from a famed designer for under $4, she said.)

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Today, for her 41-year-old son, she scored a Suitmeister pumpkin print men’s blazer and matching tie that looked like Tom Hanks could have worn it for his Peter H. Pumpkin outfit on Saturday Night Live. It appeared to be unworn, and was tagged at $12.99. (We found similar Suitmeister Halloween costumes, with matching pants, on Amazon.com for about $60.)

Liz often picks a theme for each Halloween, and thought that next year, she would do Star Wars costumes. To that end, at ARC she happened to find a hardcover “character encyclopedia” that fully depicts Star Wars costumes!  Needless to say, she snapped that up. “I’ve seen children’s Wookie costumes for $50-$90 in Halloween stores,” she said. “I know I can do much better than that at thrift stores.” (Note: We saw new adult Wookie costumes for as much as $375 on Amazon.com!)

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ARC stores are nonprofits that benefit Coloradans with intellectual or developmental disabilities and their families. There are 30 ARC thrift stores in the Colorado Front Range, and all offer half-price discounts each week on items tagged with a certain color.

The day we visited, the discount color was white, and we found a turquoise linen blouse and a no-iron navy striped blouse, both from Chico’s, for $3 and $2.50, respectively, with the white tag discount. We found plenty of other good labels, all with white tags, that day. The items below were half the tagged prices.

The store made it easy to find garments, as there were  plastic signs on the racks that described exactly what was found there, such as “Long Sleeve Knit Tops” or “Short Sleeve Blouses.” Within each category, items were then arranged by size.

Knit tops

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Scarves were nicely displayed, as were shoes and boots.

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There were dressing rooms, and a large sections of housewares and furniture.

Manager Barbara Casey said the Broadway location is the original ARC thrift store  and has been in business for 51 years. It is the smallest store, she said, and other locations, such as the stores at 16801 East Iliff Ave. in Aurora and 825 S. Kuner in Brighton are huge. She said the stores’ support of ARC results in a $2 billion impact in Colorado, providing employment and support services to individuals, food and housing vouchers to people in need, advocacy for people with disabilities in their schools, as well as helping all Coloradans live greener lives by recycling clothing, housewares and furniture and keeping items out of landfills.

ARC Thrift Store, 1515 S. Broadway, Denver, CO 80210. 303/777-3703. arcthrift.com, Open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. All 30 ARC stores in the Colorado Front Range have the same hours. Their locations are listed at https://arcthrift.com/location/store-locations.html

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