A recent client came in and hired us for some local Milwaukee SEO work. They were wanting to get their Thrift store ranked for several different local terms. So as part of my research into their business I went around and checked out their competition to see what they were doing different from my client. This article is a glimpse at what I saw after examination of thrift shopping in Milwaukee. In Part One we looked at the Goodwill shops around Milwaukee. This installment will feature some of the other larger thrift emporiums, while the final installment will feature an examination of the smaller boutique resale stores.
A Look At Milwaukee Thrift Stores
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army thrift stores are about as well known as the Goodwill shops, and certainly comparable in size. However, where the Goodwill shops thrive with excellent employees with great customer service skills, clean shops and a great selection, the Salvation Army has always offered me the opposite experience. The employees have ranged from less than helpful to downright rude. The shops tend to be far more dingy than Goodwill, and the selection does not appear to rotate quite as much. However, the sheer amount of items available make it worth the stop because with that much junk to look through there just might be something worth buying. My experience is primarily limited to the Salvation Army store on 27th Street (6341 S. 27th St., Franklin) but I have had the same experience at other Salvation Army shops as well.
American Council of the Blind Thrift Stores
Do not miss this huge thrift store at 6731 West Greenfield Avenue. The selection is huge and changes often. The daily specials are fun (recently I saw “buy one plate get three free”), the store is clean and the staff is friendly and helpful. I have found more brand name clothing at this thrift store than any other thrift in Milwaukee, and the prices are excellent – most clothes are under $3.00. While clothes are the real find here, there is typically a good selection of furniture, as well as nice household goods.
There are a few Value Village thrift shops in the Milwaukee area, but the one most centrally located is in the shopping center at the intersection of Layton and National – 729 South Layton Boulevard. Value Village is, unfortunately, the most unclean thrift store I have ever been in. I couldn’t help but feel dirty just walking into the place. The items are displayed poorly and everything is in disarray. The store has an unpleasant odor – far more than most thrift stores. The only thing that this Value Village really has going for it is that it is located centrally and is easily accessible, but if you can get to any other thrift store, do so. This one isn’t worth a drive at all.
USA Family Thrift
Located at 4470 South 108th Street in Greenfield, USA Family Thrift is one of my new favorites. The store is very clean and the staff is helpful. The clothing selection is inexpensive and wonderful, and if you are looking for a winter coat for under $20 you will have plenty of beautiful choices here. Holiday items go on sale early, and I purchased some great Halloween finds at 50% off a full week before Halloween. This is not the place to find furniture, although they do offer some furniture items, but there are nice household goods like dishes and glassware. This place may be worth the stop just to see the hundreds of not-for-sale Barbie dolls they have tacked to the walls around the shop.