Whether you are an incoming first-year at USC, or have one final year before graduation, everyone seems to need new clothes for the new school year. However, most are unsure where to find affordable options close to campus.
Below are five great thrift spots that can help you stay connected to the Carolina community through service, support and stylish clothes.
4 Paws Thrift Store
Located at 304 12th St. in West Columbia, 4 Paws Thrift Store, or simply just ‘4 Paws’, is a nonprofit that raises money for Patter Pets Inc., a charity and animal shelter that fosters neglected animals. In addition to adopting out new furry friends, Patter Pets also houses pets of women in domestic violence situations who can't bring their pets with them when seeking safety at domestic violence shelters. Once these victims get out of their situation, they are allowed to reclaim their pets.
“If you’re in a domestic violence situation, you can’t go to a shelter with a pet. So you have to do something with that pet, find it a home or whatever, because the other person may harm your animal to get back at you,” Darlene Rollison, the assistant manager of 4 Paws, said. “(The shelter) probably have a hundred cats and dogs there. They’re all vetted. They’re all fed and loved on everyday.”
The thrift store’s merchandise is all donated, and regularly priced items are discounted for students, military and seniors. Aside from shopping, there are also opportunities for individuals to volunteer at the store to help service the community. However, if you just want to visit the store, you can find anything, according to Rollison.
“(Students) can find anything here, we have so much fun … we’ll be upstairs digging through stuff to try to help them find what they’re looking for,” Rollison said. "We do a lot of stuff, I mean, we try to help a lot of people.”
His House Ministries Thrift
One of four locations, His House on 767 Meeting St. in West Columbia, is a 10 minute drive away from campus. His House Ministries was founded by Rev. Garland Ramsey in 1974 with the purpose to change lives through their alcoholic rehabilitation program. The program employs recovering homeless and alcoholic men.
“(Garland Ramsey) had a vision of helping alcoholics find a new way of living. And so he opened up this ministry based on having men that were in his program to operate the stores,” Randy Graves, manager of the West Columbia location, said. “That was his vision, and it grew from having maybe six people in the program to now, up to 36 to 38 people at one time.”
His House also holds church services at their Meeting Street Chapel, Monday through Saturday at 8 a.m., Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. They rely solely on donations that can be sold in the stores, because they receive no federal funding.
According to Graves, he encourages college students to come as the store holds plenty of items that may be of interest.
“One of the things that we have in these thrift stores that the college kids absolutely love is the retro stuff that we have. And I’ll see them bringing up stuff that I’m thinking, ‘This would have never come up here had it not been for a young college student,’” Graves said. “I look at it differently now, and I say, ‘Absolutely put it out because there is somebody shopping for that.’ So, it’s awesome.”
A short drive away from campus is NoMa Warehouse, at 2222 Sumter St., neighboring Indah Coffee and Final Victory Animal Rescue. While NoMa hosts many events, they are primarily a co-workspace for artists that may join on a membership basis to work on their art. Members there can work collaboratively on their projects.
“Our creative director, Mazie Cook, actually came up with the idea because she had recently graduated from USC as an art student, and she didn’t have any space to do her art. She doesn’t have her own studio or anything like that. So, she came up with the idea of shared studio space that is affordable and just very collaborative. She saw the space and she thought it would be perfect,” Cara Lawson, the finance director at NoMa, said.
There is also fixed booth space for members or local business to use as a retail and vendor space at the NoMa Flea, that happens every Friday night. They sometimes have live music and food trucks for those that come out to the market to facilitate a community and welcoming environment with younger, college aged vendors, according to Lawson.
“It’s just a space that you can come and hang out and find cool things in Columbia, and you meet new people, make new friends, find stuff that college students like. We have a lot of thrifted vintage clothes that’s really popular right now,” Lawson said.
Sunshine Thrift Store
At 3300 Two Notch Road is Sunshine Thrift, who partners with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. They donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of items to Prisma Health Children’s Hospital — Midlands. People can drop off donations at the store or schedule a pickup time with the donation truck.
Accepted items for donation include gently used clothing, sheets, pillow cases, blankets, household items and furniture, including any sort of outdoor furniture or tools.
Sid & Nancy
Sid & Nancy is a buy and resell store for recycled clothing. If you are looking for a more modern touch, they look for brands like H&M, Topshop, Gap and Urban Outfitters, but will accept anything as long as it is “clean, unwrinkled and in good condition,” according to their website. Offers for items are made in cash or store credit for usable items, and the store is at 733 Saluda Ave. It is the only store on this list local to Five Points.
“I’d say we’re kind of one of the few local clothing stores in this area," Jeni Scott, a store associate, said. "So, this area is definitely a good spot to come if you’re wanting to support local businesses.”