Thrifty is Good – Especially When You Are WICKED THRIFT

What comes to mind when you see the word “thrift”?  A simple definition from Webster is this: careful use of money so that it is not wasted.

We can all use a lesson in thrift from time to time. For many of us, money can be tight, but that doesn’t mean shopping can’t be FUN! Let me introduce you to Tammy from Wicked Thrift. I first met Tammy a few years ago when I ventured into the funky old house on Rte 28 in Dennis. There where racks and racks of some of the most outrageous clothing and accessories from all eras of fashion. There were murals of the land of Oz on the walls and the most unique mannequin I have ever seen!

WTBlueThe first time I actually got to TALK to Tammy was back stage at the Current Quarterly Fashion Show to benefit WE CAN earlier in May. Tammy was quirky and casual and let each of us pick a dress from the racks she dragged through the rain from her 2 stores: Wicked Thrift and Pop Rock Vintage. I picked a floor length blue floral dress that I fell in love with! I talked a little more with Tammy and learned a bit more about her shops. Tammy invited me down for a tour and an overview of her unique business model for thrifty clothing.

The first thing you need to know is that Wicked Thrift is a local business. It is not a non-profit give-it-away-for-free outlet. This is a uniquely community based business. It is also the ONLY “buy outright” re-sale clothing store on the Cape. What does that mean? Rather than bringing in a pile, box or bag of unwanted clothing to donate, Tammy will give you CASH for your stuff! Money! No freebies! You can also get a store credit, or she will occasionally do consignment on specialty items like formal wear and prom gowns. Tammy has a system and there are rules and dates and math involved.

“The hardest thing I had to learn was structure” Tammy laughed at herself. When she first opened in 2010, she filled the old barn in Dennis… Then she filled a box truck… Then she filled the delivery area in the retail shop next door… All with clothing she was buying from people in the community to re-sell to other people in the community.

She studied the business model for other re-sale shops. Maybe you have heard of the national chain Buffalo Exchange? She also sought help through a mentoring program called S.C.O.R.E. “My mentor was an older retired businessman. He was GREAT! He also told me the most important lesson in re-sale clothing: “Don’t be the ‘cheapest’ girl on the block. Loyalty is about service and honesty”.  Tammy is both loyal and honest, and her customers come back again and again.


Tammy with the Prom and Figawi dresses

Tammy’s model for buying clothing became so well-known she had to set up strict times and dates for when customers could wait-in-line or drop off clothing. Its first come-first served and there is absolutely a cut-off on the wait-in-line days.

Here is how it works: I go through my closet and find up to 25 items in good to great condition I no longer have use for. I wait in line EARLY on a designated date and sign up for a time slot. When it’s my time, Tammy will go through and evaluate each item. The items are priced for re-sale and I receive either a percentage of that price or a slightly higher percentage for store credit or a bit more cash for consignment. What Tammy doesn’t think she can sell I get back. Simple, right?  The process takes about 15 minutes and she averages up to 25 people on a wait-to-buy/sell day.  Warning: There is ALWAYS a line to sign up. Bring your cup-o-joe and get ready to make friends while you wait. (I have to admit, I did bring a bag with a few goodies from my own closet, but because I was chatting with Tammy on a non-buy/sell day, I will have to wait for her final analysis of my ‘stuff’).

If you like colorful, Wicked Thrift has you covered!

If you like colorful, Wicked Thrift has you covered!

Tammy didn’t come from a retail background, or a fashion background. Tammy grew up in a nice section of Connecticut where her parents owned a successful business cleaning houses. “It taught me a lot about hard work and an honest living. We did ok, but it was still awkward to get dropped off at school in the work car. My parents cleaned the houses of a lot of the kids I went to school with.”

Tammy actually had a career in the music industry in Nashville and in New York.  “I know nothing about clothes or fashion. I just want things to be fun and look good”.

A perfectly fun outfit for under $100!

A perfectly fun outfit for under $100!

As I looked around the store, colorful, funky and fun all came to mind. She pulled out a few outfits including a jumper. “Isn’t this great? If I bought this, I’d wear it with a big floppy hat!” Sure enough she walked to the front of the store and found a fabulous hat – and a pair of wedge designed sandals. “Look at this! This is great!” She propped them together on a couch.

Scarves, hats, purses, shoes, jewelry…. A shelf filled with men’s jeans and dress shirts and ties! T-shirts and shorts! My head was swimming! There wasn’t a single thing I could think of that was missing! There is a throw-back bohemian feel to both shops and I always think of a few shops I visited in Berkeley when I lived in California.

Tammy let me have a peek “behind the curtain” where she stacks and sorts and irons and prices things. She candidly admitted she had been very close to the financial tipping point more than once. We know that happens with small businesses on the Cape. “I was trying too hard to make everyone else happy and not paying attention to what the business needed”. Lesson learned. I watched the emotion build up in Tammy’s whole body as she told me stories about customers and special items of clothing they had brought to sell. Every piece of clothing or jewelry has a story… Sometimes they have HISTORY. When she comes across a really special piece or collection, she won’t buy it. She will help the owner find it a ‘home’. This includes a collection taken from an attic here on the Cape with a wedding dress that Tammy estimated dates back to the 1800’s!

The next time you are in the area and the mood for shopping, or browsing, you might want to visit Wicked Thrift in Yarmouth, or Pop Rock Vintage in Dennis.  Shop local and shop THRIFTY!


Here is the “How To Trade” process at Wicket Thrift. You will also see the schedule for the next “Wait-To-Sell” dates and drop-off dates.

About Cat Wilson

Cat Wilson is "That Girl" on Cape Country 104 – a Cape Cod native and longtime Cape radio personality. She is a passionate supporter of Military and Veteran causes on the Cape and also hosts local music spotlight program, “The Cheap Seats” on Ocean 104.7.

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