What Goes Around Comes Around: Thrifting at Rag-o-Rama

From The Connector, January 2009:

Most SCAD-Atlanta students are probably familiar with the quirky, colorful neighborhood of Little Five Points. The notoriously rebellious, mohawked area of town is full of eccentric storefronts bearing a hodgepodge of random knick-knacks and vintage goods. One of the largest and most beloved of these shops is Rag-O-Rama, a veritable mecca of vintage and secondhand clothing, shoes and accessories.

The picky staff at this large vintage outpost make sure that the selection has a large variety for both men and women, with inventory ranging from ‘70s suede fringed jackets to ‘80s tapered lightwash denim. Rag-O-Rama also stocks lightly used modern clothing from popular places like Urban Outfitters, American Apparel, Banana Republic, Forever 21 and the like. While you shouldn’t expect flea market prices, you can definitely score some good deals — Rag-O-Rama doesn’t mark up based on labels, so it’s not uncommon to find a pair of Ferragamo flats for $20.

But perhaps the best part about Rag-O-Rama (well, next to the iridescent go-go boots in the window) is that they buy clothing. That’s right, you can go to Little Five Points with a big box of clothes and come out with some cash. Don’t expect to make a killing—they only offer 30 percent in cash of the store’s selling price, so if you have a particularly rad track jacket, you can expect about $10 for it. Or, if your currency of choice is clothing rather than cash, you can get 45 percent of the selling value toward an in-store purchase. This means that old track jacket could get you a pretty sweet deal on some old-school sneakers and a Kriss Kross tee, for example.

The best time to bring your clothing in is on a Monday or Tuesday morning, after the store’s inventory has emptied out over the weekend. The staff is pretty picky though, so don’t expect to clean out your entire closet in one go. That one Urban Outfitters tee with the clever saying on it that you bought back in 2002 (you know, the one with the arm pit stains) probably won’t make the cut. But if you happen to own a hideously gaudy sequined dress from an ‘80s nightmare, you probably won’t have any trouble. Extra points if it has shoulder pads.

While much patience is required to sift through all the racks at Rag-O-Rama, chances are you’ll find something interesting (or weird) enough to spice up an outfit. Though a lot of the pieces are just unremarkable Forever 21 castoffs, there are surprising gems on each rack.

Particularly fun is their jewelry section, which houses a great selection of gargantuan earrings, long tangly necklaces and big chunky cuffs. Nothing dainty here. And while many of the handbags are cheap faux-leather (or pleather), every now and then you’ll stumble across an oddity that will make your trip worth it.

Don’t expect to have an easy time of it on the weekends, because that’s when the shop is crowded with vintage-worshipping pilgrims paying homage. I’ve seen a couple catfights break out around the women’s dress section, so beware. Other than the crowds (and the inevitable muscle soreness that surfaces after an hour of scrutinizing the racks), expect to score some pretty good deals at Rag-O-Rama. If all else fails, you can always just unload some dated clothing onto some unsuspecting shopper.

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