Augusta Christmas shoppers turn to flea markets, pawn shops for bargains

 

Thrift store shoppers have a reputation of being just that, thrifty.

In the current economy, though, it is not just a certain group that shops for the best bargain.

Nowadays, more shoppers are skipping the retail stores altogether and heading to flea markets and pawnshops to do their Christmas shopping.

Barnyard Flea Market on Doug Barnard Parkway was full of shoppers Saturday, which the vendors said is normal for this time of year.

“I am not really a ‘flea market’ person,” said Janell Sherbing, of Martinez. “But a friend suggested it when we were talking about trying to afford Christmas this year, and I have to admit, I did find some great stuff.”

Jim Salmen, of North Augusta, was helping a friend sell guitars and amplifiers in Row J.

“Now, shoppers are smart,” he said. “They have to be.”

Salmen defined his customers as savvy shoppers who generally know what they want before they walk into the market. Most people have a goal so they go in, buy exactly what they are looking for and get out.

Shanae Williams, of Augusta, said she has been shopping for Christmas at flea markets for years.

“You can find things here that you can’t find anywhere else,” she said as she pointed to a sculpted dog with a sign that read “Go Away” on its chest. “And it is usually much cheaper.

“I just got a washer and dryer for my niece here for $300.”

Matt Butler, the manager of the Downtown Pawn Shop at 564 Broad St., says his business always booms during December.

“Not everyone has the money or time to head out on Black Friday. We have Black Friday all month,” he said.

Butler said he gets a lot of people who trade in older possessions to buy newer gifts, even people who trade in things bought the year before.

“This is a good month for us. We can compete with big retail stores because we have so much merchandise coming in,” he said. “Plus, people don’t have to worry about crowds here.”

Butler said he has customers from all walks of life, from construction workers to doctors to lawyers.

“Everyone is looking for a deal,” he said. “They start out at the mall, but eventually they end up here.”

Downtown Pawn Shop goes through a lot of electronics, video games and jewelry during the Christmas season, Butler said.

He, like Salmen, said his customers usually come in already knowing what they are going to buy.

“People aren’t browsing anymore,” Butler said. “They have already done the research.”

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