Courtesy of Lauren Goodburn
When searching for a place to find an assortment of clothing beyond what most retail shops stock, one option in the campus area is Rag-O-Rama.
Rag-O-Rama was established just north of campus at 3301 N. High St. in 1996, with two goals in mind: to encourage people to “recycle their wardrobe” in order to keep textiles from flowing into landfills and to provide affordable clothing to students and the community.
“Rag-O-Rama started primarily, due to the fact that with there being so many students, as an opportunity to solve the problem of all the textiles that are in the landfills, which is usually clothing, and to also offer clothing for an affordable price to the students in the area,” said Lauren Goodburn, store manager of the Columbus Rag-O-Rama shop.
Rag-O-Rama is not like most thrift shops, which are largely nonprofit and rely on donated goods in order to have products to sell. Rag-O-Rama is a resale shop, purchasing clothes from customers who come into the store to sell their wardrobe.
Tyler Guidry, a registered buyer at Rag-O-Rama, said he has to explain the business behind Rag-O-Rama to first-time customers who suffer sticker-shock from the store’s expensive prices, in relation to other used-clothing stores. Rag-O-Rama tries to purchase clothes from sellers for a fair price that can be translated to the customers, Guidry said.
“Everyone’s first thing that they’re going to think of is, ‘Oh, you guys are a thrift store.’ We’re not a thrift store, we’re a resale shop,” Guidry said. “We have to make the sellers happy. We also have to make the people who are purchasing the items happy.”
Nowadays, Goodburn said nonprofit thrift stores might not necessarily be cheaper than Rag-O-Rama.
“There are a lot of items in thrift stores now that are actually more expensive than if you were to come to Rag-O-Rama and grab them,” Goodburn said, such as designer purses as an example.
Goodburn also added that this is something she has noticed from her own experience of visiting thrift stores.
“It’s a new trend that has developed especially here in Columbus in the last few years.”
Such seems to be the case not only with the thrift stores, but in regards to mall shops as well. Guidry said Rag-O-Rama is a sort of a “middle man” that filters through sellers’ wardrobes in order to provide the store the best-suited clothing to sell. Jeans that often sell for $250 brand new are sold lightly used at Rag-O-Rama for less than $100, Guidry said.
When it comes to purchasing clothes, buyers pay the closest attention to the condition of the garments.
“I just scan everything. Anything with holes in it, anything with stains on it is pretty much an automatic pass, unless it’s a vintage band (T-shirt),” Guidry said. “Condition is what we look for.”
Rag-O-Rama does not purchase items that have been overly washed and shrunk, or have twisted seams or jeans with broken knees, Guidry said.
After condition, Goodburn said style and label of the garment are accounted for. For instance, slimmer fit, softer-feel T-shirts are priced higher. Heavyweight T-shirts are priced lower.
“Guys want shirts that are fitting them,” Guidry said. “If it’s a boxy or a heavyweight T-shirt, it’s still going to sell because not every guy wears the same type of T-shirt, but you’re going to take that into consideration when you’re pricing it.”
Most of the time, sellers are satisfied but occasionally ask why their items might not be taken, Guidry said. He suggests first-time sellers come up to the buying counter with him so they have a better idea of the types of items they decide to buy from them and why.
“We take consideration of the style of the garment, more so than the label (brand),” Goodburn said. “We try to still have those cutting-edge items as well.”
The style of clothing at Rag-O-Rama is the big attraction for Sylvia Collard, a first-year in marketing.
Collard has found “cool, ’50s, ’60s vintage dresses” at Rag-O-Rama and shops at the store for Halloween costumes.
“I can always find something unique,” Collard said.
She has sold garments to Rag-O-Rama before as well. She brought in a bag full of shirts, shoes, dresses and belts to the store. Although the store only bought one dress and pair of shoes, Collard said she was happy with the price she got for them.
Rag-O-Rama is currently buying clothes for spring, as well as winter and fall in men’s wear.
Columbus holds the original Rag-O-Rama location, but there are also Atlanta and Sandy Springs, Ga., locations. Goodburn said there is also a location in the works in Tempe, Arizona .
“Our main goal is not to expand as fast as we can, our goal it to put quality shops in areas we think need it,” Goodburn said. “It is a little bit spaced out, but if we find a location that would be suitable for the Rag-O-Rama brand, then we look into putting a store there.”