Like most of the customers of Thrift Town who arrived on Thursday for one last visit, Lupé Cabrera felt cheated. The front door was locked.
“It came out of nowhere it’s so shocking, said Cabrera who had been visiting the store since she was a child and wanted one last roam through its two floors of used clothes, kitchen gadgets, electronic equipment and toys.
Some news reports said the family-owned store would close on Friday, propelling dozens of old and new customers to arrive at 17th and Mission Streets on Thursday only to find a letter on the store saying that after 45 years the store closed on Wednesday evening.
“I put two hours in the meter, bought an espresso and was all ready,” said Wendy Brummer of her planned farewell visit to Thrift Town. Brummer and her 18-year-old daughter, Francesca Kocks, were both decked out in earlier Thrift Town buys – sweaters, shirts, and wraps.
“Oh my god, we thought it was open until the 31st,” said Brummer, who has shopped at the door since before her daughter was born.
“If I have or had a special event, I just came here and bought a new outfit and I looked like a million bucks,” she said.
Mother and daughter also had fond memories of shopping there together. “I was always in the children’s corner looking at the bags of toys they sold, begging my parents to buy them,” said Kocks. A lot of my stuffed animals came from here,”
A woman who called herself Showing looked startled to see the shuttered store. “I guess I took time off to come here for nothing I thought it was closing tomorrow,” she said. “I like getting my random shirts here. The random stuff is really fun.”
Collette, a pre-school teacher, said Thrift Town was a place where she could find pants that fit and kitchen equipment that she could use with the kids she teaches.
Hoa Du, who was born in Vietnam, and lives in the Mission, also talked nostalgically about the kitchen equipment and the one time he found a trove of beautiful pottery.
He loved the daily sales and all of the inexpensive decorations offered for Halloween and Christmas, he said.
Dharma too had been going to Thrift Town for a lifetime. “My parents bought me my clothes from here my whole life,” said Dharma, holding her skateboard in one arm. “It’s one less spot to get good quality cheap clothes. I don’t know what’s going take its place but I doubt it’s going have as much benefit to the community as this place did.”
Alec Chakroff agreed. “It’s a little bit sad. I don’t know how many other good shops there are around here but this was a good one.”
A few customers like Kathy Phan had never been to the store, but travelled in today from the North Bay to experience it before it closed. That was not to be.
Brummer, who seemed to know her thrift stores, had one bit of advice: Check out the Goodwilll at Bay View Plaza.