Germantown: Family Thrift Store Pays it Forward

Thelma Anderson holds up a treasure she has just found.]

Lifetime customer Quinton Russ is now a proud employee of Bargain Thrift Center
Lifetime customer Quinton Russ is now a proud employee of Bargain Thrift Center

Suzanne Quinn, second generation owner and operator of Bargain Thrift Center in Germantown, plays a crucial role in the community.

Quinn began working at the thrift center during her high school summers when her late father opened the business in 1985. When he passed away in 2004, Quinn stepped up as an owner.

“We have really strong ties to the community,” said Quinn. She adds how adults frequently come into the store to share their memories with her from when they came shopping as children with their parents. “I appreciate all the little moments,” she said.

Recently Quinn hired a young man named Quinton Russ, who she says has been shopping here with his grandfather since he was 4-years-old. “This is letting him see the other side of the business,” she said “we do try to hire locally.”  Russ, 20, has been a resident of Germantown his entire life.

Since 2008, Quinn believes the consumer culture has been reshaped. “There has always been a hardcore contingency of dedicated thrifters,” she explained “but it has expanded dramatically as a result of the economic situation.”

Quinn also thanks social media, various cable programs and reality shows for playing a role in extoling the virtue of second hand shopping.  “This has helped foster the rebranding of it,” she said “in recent years people have really embraced the resale environment,” she said.

Bargain Thrift Center currently has two locations.  At 5261 Germantown Avenue there is a large selection of clothing, accessories, jewelry, household products and toys.  Their warehouse is located at 4530 Germantown Avenue, but it is open to the public. At this location you can find clothing, accessories, books and much more for only $1 or less along with many other reasonably priced furniture and small appliances.

“What’s cool is we get to meet so many people from so many different backgrounds,” said Quinn “and people are all thrifting for different reasons.” Whether for environmental purposes, economic or aesthetic, Bargain Thrift Center constantly remains busy.

Quinn mentions how sometimes designers and stylists come in, but also people who want a little inspiration or are in need of items for a current production. “We have a wonderfully loyal following from this immediate Northwest Philadelphia region, but many come from all over,” she said “in recent years we have been attracting from a wider geographic area.”

Customers sift through racks of affordable clothing for anything that catches their eye.
Customers sift through racks of affordable clothing for anything that catches their eye.

Aside from providing affordable items, Bargain Thrift Center works with different local community groups. “We try to pay it forward,” said Quinn.

Although Bargain Thrift Center is structured as a for-profit company, they do fundraising for nonprofit companies such as Marlin Fine Chapter, Fox Chase Cancer Center and Germantown Deaf Ministries.

Bargain Thrift Center also works with Interim House, an organization that serves women with substance abuse and mental health issues. “We pass along broken jewelry and things they can re-work,” said Quinn “and really have gotten positive feedback.”

Customers had nothing but kind words to say about Bargain Thrift Center. They appreciate the gracious customer-service, affordable merchandise and welcoming atmosphere.

Thelma Anderson, a customer and 49-year resident of Germantown, believes Bargain Thrift Center is beneficial for the neighborhood, but also saves many people money. “They’re helping in more than one way,” she said “they’re helping the community and they’re helping nonprofit organizations.”

Anderson also noted how it is a big help for those who cannot afford to go to large chain stores. “You can get brand name items here,” she said “it’s a familiar place and you see familiar faces.”  Anderson, a “vintage nut” as she called herself, shared how she has found many treasures here over the years.

Melvin Floyd, a 25-year resident of Germantown, comes into Bargain Thrift Center every single morning. “People love coming here because the prices are very reasonable,” he said “the people that work here are very friendly, they’re nice to you and most of them have been here for years.

Thelma Anderson holds up a treasure she has just found.
Thelma Anderson holds up a treasure she has just found.

Bargain Thrift Center seems to rub off that “pay it forward” atmosphere on their customers as well. Floyd says that not everything he buys is for himself. He donates many items, especially around the holidays, to those families who cannot afford to buy presents for their children.  One employee even shared how Floyd will often pickup the bill of whoever is standing behind him in line.

Quinn states they have been working with the community since opening. “We are constantly evolving, always trying to improve and meet consumer demands,” she said “I consider us truly fortunate.”

With nothing but an optimistic future, daily customer Floyd adds, “if they for some how were going out of business people would be screaming and hollering and carrying on,” he said “people love coming here.”

You can visit Bargain Thrift Center online at or by telephone at (215) 843-1300.

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