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Voting continues for area’s best ‘thrifty’ shopper

By Staff | Sep 16, 2009

Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida is asking locals to vote for their favorite thriftiest shopper in the first-ever “So You Think You’re Thrifty” competition.
With less money in their pockets, many Southwest Florida shoppers are choosing low-cost, thriftier options at one of Goodwill’s 24 retail stores. Kirsten O’Donnell, director of public relations for Goodwill Industries, said the idea for the competition has been circulating the company for a while.
“It is an idea we have been talking about for a while and basically it came down to knowing how much everyone has been watching what they spend this year,” she said. “We always have people in our stores telling us what fantastic deals they have.”
Forty local shoppers entered the contest by auditioning with a panel of judges. They also had to write an essay outlining their shopping habits and secrets.
O’Donnell said the 40 shoppers were asked: How often do they go shopping? What is their strategy? What is the best bargain they have ever found at the store?
The list of shoppers was narrowed down to four finalists, who each received a $100 gift certificate to Goodwill. Those finalists — Karen Arnold, Amy Burns, Amanda Gutierrez and Randy Selberg — had a week to spend the $100.
Arnold, 51, is a resident of North Fort Myers who goes to a thrift store a minimum of two times each week. She told Goodwill that she is a systematic shopper who carries her own measurements, as well as the size of her windows, curtains and bedding just in case she finds a deal.
Local residents will have until Sept. 30 to vote on the grand prize winner, who will receive a $250 gift certificate, lunch with the chief executive officer and the opportunity to appear in an advertising campaign for Goodwill.
Videos of the shoppers are posted at: www.goodwillswfl.org and in-store ballots are also available.
“We put the list of their purchases online and produced a video on each of them that shows them shopping in the store,” O’Donnell said. “We are leaving it up to a vote on our Web site.”
More people are shopping at Goodwill than ever before, but they are not spending as much per visit, she said. Goodwill is also reporting less donations from the community because in tight financial times people are less willing to part with older items.
“What we have seen is more people in our stores, but they are spending less and that may be because we aren’t getting as many donations,” O’Donnell said.