Thrifting is an undeniable pleasure for many. The hunt for the ultimate deal or that unexpected item can be a lot of fun. But if there’s one downside to thrifting, it’s that often stores are too large and almost corporate. Shelves may be filled with carelessly stacked items or packed tightly together so that you can’t possibly check out everything in the store. Those same shelves may also be filled with a lot of junk, from barely functional items to cheap plastic things that won’t last much longer.
Newly opened Tacoma Thrift & Consignment is out to change that.
“I really want this store never to have junk,” says shop owner and operator Jessica Prindel. “That’s how I want to be different than other thrift stores — I want it to be curated. I’m really into wood and materials that stand the test of time. I dig through the dregs to find the gems and then I place them here. I go to garage sales. I go to the Goodwill Outlet. I go to really weird stores out in places like Edgewood. I haggle for prices. I want to do that work so the customer doesn’t have to.”
Tacoma Thrift & Consignment is not a large thrift store and the shelves have ample space between them. Even though Jessica could add more shelves into the space if she wanted to and fit more items into the store, she prides herself on the shop’s aesthetic.
“I love buying at thrift stores — it’s one of my life’s greatest joys — but if the store is cluttered and unorganized, I start to feel very claustrophobic and it gets overwhelming for me,” she explains. “So if it’s overwhelming to me, someone who thrives in chaos, it’s probably going to be overwhelming to everyone else. What I try to have is an organized, clean atmosphere here at the shop.”
Despite the store’s modest size, you might be surprised by just how much you’ll find. The shelves and spaces are organized by theme. There’s a kid’s area, a furniture nook, a small clothing area, and shelves dedicated to everything from jewelry to vintage electronics to media and even some sports items.
“I would say my focus is on vintage housewares and décor, but I try to have a bit of everything here,” she says. “I like things that are functional and also pretty and were made in an era where things last.”
She points to some lamps on the shelf from 40 years ago and says all they took was some cleaning, but they still turn on and function just fine, contrasted to many things made in the modern day that break after five years. Likewise, you might spot an avocado green mixer from the ‘70s or a parasol from the ‘40s or even some vintage records. You’ll see a fair amount of media and electronics around the store, a throw-back to Jessica’s many years working for Hi-Voltage Records, another 6th Avenue business.
In fact, Tacoma Thrift & Consignment is located in Hi Voltage’s old location. She’s repainted since moving in and relocated the counter near the front of the store, but this is the same space she’s been working in for a number of years.
“I spent the past four years here as a record store clerk,” she says as she shows me a photo of what the store looked like a mere few weeks ago. “Sometimes I’ll look around and think, ‘That used to be the jazz corner.’ It was jam packed full records.”
Jessica’s years of working at Hi-Voltage led her to where she’s at today, though. She’s always gravitated toward jobs at small businesses and learned early on that she could ask to learn something and business owners were often happy to teach her.
“I’ve always worked with small, independently owned businesses,” she says. “I’ve always had this drive. No matter what job I had, I always found myself in a management position or doing things the owner does. I was just always a self-starter that way. I was never just punching in and punching out. Basically, the way I describe it is that instead of going to college, I just treated my jobs like college and I learned everything about small business that I could. If they would let me take over something, I would do it.”
She started as Hi-Voltage owner Brian’s nanny, but moved into working for the store and taking on many additional responsibilities along the way. She built the record store’s website, began selling items online and got SKUs onto all items. But with time, she realized she wanted to do something for herself. While she had years of experience working for small businesses, she turned to Spaceworks Tacoma to build an even more solid foundation in business.
“I went through the Spaceworks program, but I didn’t get this space through Spaceworks,” she says. Before Spaceworks could connect her with a vacant space, she found her own through her connection with Hi-Voltage. “They do so much more than just give you a space. I took six months of business courses. You get all kinds of resources and now I’m a member of the Chamber of Commerce.”
Through other business owners, Spaceworks, and through her high school years at Tacoma School of the Arts, Jessica has learned much from others. Through her store, she also hopes to give back — at least once she gets fully set up and running. And it’s more than just a thrift store. The word consignment is in the store name for a reason. She already has some antiques on consignment, but has plans to expand her consignment to include local arts.
“The consignment aspect kind of came out of going to Tacoma School of the Arts,” she says. “I was never in band, but I was always helping the bands that I loved get out there and make money because it’s really hard to make money in art. So the concept for the store is that I want to feature a local artist; maybe every year or every couple months I want to have a new one. I want to help teach them how to amplify their own brand and how to actually make money off of what they’re doing and show their value. I haven’t started doing that quite yet since I’m still getting going.”
Teaching might be one on one, or it might eventually be via workshops she holds in her space.
For now, she’s thrilled to get her store going, spending her mornings shopping and haggling for new items to bring into the store, and her days manning the store. She doesn’t even mind that she doesn’t have days off anymore, but she’d love to have an employee down the line.
Stop in to check out the store, or to donate or chat about potential consignment items. While Jeschoosychoosey about what items she offers on consignment, she’s not as picky about donations, and she has a warehouse, so she can accept far more items than it might appear she can. If you think you might be a frequent donator or you have several boxes of things to give, ask about her donation card so you can get a 10, 20, 30, 40 or even 50 percent discount on a future purchase.
Tacoma Thrift & Consignment
2612 6th Avenue
Tacoma, WA 98406