Robert McCormac is a firm believer in the saying that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
McCormac started out in the salvage business, learning from Jomar retail shop owner, Dick Segal. Segal taught him how to take anything and sell it.
After working in the salvage business for many years, McCormac decided to try his luck in the thrift shopping business in early 2013. He opened up his own thrift shop, called The Thrifty Irishman, in Port Richmond.
The Thrifty Irishman prides itself in the wide selection of objects they sell in their shop. Items like clothing, furniture, art work, VHS tapes, glassware, records, taxidermy animals and so much more.
When it comes to its unique inventory of items, The Thrifty Irishman is sourced through various mediums. Many of the items throughout the store come from various donors. Often times, McCormac and his staff will clean out homes of unwanted items if people are moving from their homes or in the case of a death.
“One unique item we found was an original press vinyl of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Room,” McCormac said.
The store at Westmoreland and Cedar streets was becoming smaller and smaller with the amount of items McCormac and his employees were picking up or given. He started looking for a larger space to hold all the inventory.
He was in luck because the family-owned leather-tanning business, Regal, was closing its doors right around the time McCormac was searching for a new space. The new location is a large warehouse reaching almost 60,000 square feet on E. Butler Street.
The new warehouse strays away from their old white building featuring a green Leprechaun logo. Instead, their new location is painted a deep blue with a golden yellow for their logo. The new color hue was selected after changing the logo colors for a clothing drive with La Salle University.
“Blue and gold create a more welcoming and comforting feel when you walk in the door,” McCormac said.
It is easy to get lost when walking down the numerous aisles of clothing and furniture at the Thrifty Irishman.
Upon entering the thrift shop customers can expect to see aisles of racks filled with adult and children’s clothing from pants for every occasion to winter jackets. The pricing for the products are $5 and five pieces for $20. Behind all the clothes is an area filled with essential household items like china cabinets, couches, lamps and dishes.
For the clothes, The Thrifty Irishman sets up bins at fundraisers around Philadelphia. Then they weigh the collection of clothes and write the fundraising organization a check based on how much they collect.
Another unique thing McCormac and his employees do with the bins is called credential. Any unusable clothing goes to a friend who owns a credential business, which ships items to Tunisia.
While they are commonly known as the “Bloomingdale’s of thrift” as McCormac calls it, he hopes to expand onto new projects such as developing their upstairs floor, a massive room of open space. So far, McCormac is open to just about anything when it comes to the use of the massive space. Most recently, indie punk band, Sorority Noise, shot a music video in the space.
“We want someone to come up here and use the space for whatever they want, whether it be for shooting film projects, music videos or photoshoots,” McCormac said. “This space has the potential to be something spectacular.”
“I would one day like to convert the upstairs floor into a concert venue similar to the Electric Factory or Union Transfer,’’ said McCormac’s son, who is also named Robert and works at the shop.
For now, McCormac is focused on expanding the downstairs thrift shop. Even though the business is still in its startup stage in its new location, they expect their business to boom within the next three years.
The Thrifty Irishman has successfully gained a following in the Port Richmond area. There is a diverse array of customers that come to the shop to search through the infinite racks of clothing.
“One of my favorite things I picked up here was a pink jacket that reminds me of my favorite singer, Lady Gaga,” said Temple student Margot Fitzgerald.
And some customers end up finding original pieces in the shop to take home and enjoy.
It’s what makes a new customer turn into a longtime customer like Mike Deluca.
“I picked up a few jerseys here for pretty cheap and they were still all new!” Deluca said.
-Text, video and pictures by Vicki Gouvalis and Morgan Kruczek.