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Bargain Basket funds Des Moines Junior League

Local thrift shop filled, bursting the seams with TLC.

Coats? Check. Halloween costumes? Check. Vintage clothing and accessories? Check.

Many shoppers are looking for alternatives to big-box retailers to do all of their one-stop shopping. The Bargain Basket, a local thrift store run by the Junior League of Des Moines, may be just the place.

In 1974, the Bargain Basket was a one-day rummage sale sponsored by the Junior League. The namesake was transferred to the store, which opened in the Drake Neighborhood in 1980. Store manager Penny Stovall said she was not sure its exact proximity to the university at that time. Stovall has been at the Bargain Basket for 11 years.

The shop moved to the East Village area of downtown Des Moines four years later. And, in 2006, they opened the store the League currently operates at 560 E. Grand St. It is located about two blocks south of Highway 235, just off the Penn Street exit.

The Bargain Basket accepts donations from Junior League drives, local businesses and community members. It sells clothing for men, women and children, accessories, housewares, toys and shoes. All items are gently used.

The store features brand names such as Gap, Abercrombie and Fitch, Ann Taylor, Talbots, Merona and other Target brands and Old Navy. Less expensive brands are the cheapest options at the Bargain Basket.

The profits from the store fund several Junior League community programs, including Girl Power, I-read and after-school tutoring. Girl Power is an annual event that allows middle school girls to explore different career opportunities. I-read and after-school tutoring are coordinated through the Des Moines School District. The Junior League also donates clothes they cannot sell to local shelters.

Stovall said the operating budget for the store was minimal. It is mostly staffed by community volunteers. This keeps more money circulating directly into the community projects.

What makes this store truly distinct is the boutique department. This features everything from a vintage wedding dress for only $100, to a Calvin Klein cropped leather jacket for $45. These are definitely the high-ticket items. The majority of the stock is priced in the $4 to $25 range.

Guys can expect more excitement than holding their girlfriends’ purses at the Bargain Basket. When most guys go shopping, their goals are usually to purchase items as close to what they’re looking for in as little time as possible. There is usually not the “thrill of the hunt” that ladies tend to gravitate toward when shopping.

The Bargain Basket could be an easy fix for college-age guys. It houses an extensive menswear collection, with everything from button-down shirts to T-shirts, jeans and pants to shoes. Or, for those about to enter the professional world on a budget, there is a selection of about 20 suits of different weights, styles and sizes, most priced at $50.

The Bargain Basket began its annual coat sale last weekend and will continue until they are out of stock. So, perhaps instead of searching for a vintage-inspired winter coat or waiting until your parents buy you one for Christmas, you can take a trip to the Bargain Basket to find a real vintage coat for a price that won’t break the bank.

Photo: Carter Oswood


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