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Spending Limits -- How to Survive a Recession
Published Tuesday, February 23, 2010 10:34 AM
By Paul Zoeller
Summerville Journal Scene
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It may not have been the reason but Maleca Whichard picked the right time to be stingy with her dollar. Whichard of Summerville first learned about the value of coupon clipping after talking with a friend. After taking it to another level, Whichard has saved big bucks and now teaches others how to save while grocery shopping.

Whichard is not alone. During the tough economic times surrounding the recent recession, people go out less or forgo buying non-essential items in an effort to conserve money. Extravagant spending has slowed, as thrift stores have become trendy and fixing a favorite pair of shoes is not uncommon anymore.

Roderick Wilson sorts through a pile of shoes in need of repair at his Summerville shop.

Making Due

Business is booming for Roderick Wilson, owner of Flowertown Shoe Repair, during this recession. Usually business slows during summer months but not this year. As a matter of a fact, Wilson has seen an increase in new customers and repeat customers keep coming back.

Whereas he can attribute much of his business to his superb craftsmanship, he also says the increase comes from people trying to make due.

After 10 years of operating his shop, Wilson has seen an influx of business. "More people are coming in for shoe repair," Wilson says. "People own shoes they just don't want to throw away."

Wilson says he has fixed everything from shoes to purses and jackets. Though unusual, he has repaired a leather chair and a dog leash on occasion.

He says this as he grabs a pair of shoes from a large stack beside him. How he keeps track of the mountain of shoes is amazing.

"Everybody asks how I keep track of everything, good memory -- I haven't lost anything yet."

Volunteer Marie Mack, right, and Beth Wyckoff look through boxes of donated clothing waiting to be sorted at the Second Chance Shop in Summerville.

Finding a Bargain

Beth Wyckoff has known a secret many are only finding out now -- you can find some really good deals on name brand clothing at a thrift store. President of Second Chance Shop near downtown Summerville, Wyckoff has seen her fair share of quality clothing sold at low prices at the her shop. Now the thrift store concept is catching on as others swarm to these thrift stores for bargains.

"I don't think there is anyone in the world who doesn't want a bargain," Wyckoff says as she sorts through donated clothing. The Second Chance Shop, a non profit store, accepts donated clothing, shoes, house wares and linens. Volunteers at the shop sort through the stacks of donated goods and resell them before donating the profits to local charities.

Beth Wyckoff examines clothing to ensure it is in good condition. She said prices are so good, many of her outfits come from the racks at the shop.

As she puts it, nothing wrong with being thrifty and now thrift stores have become the trend as even teens look for bargains on a gently used rack. Customers can find a 2-3 piece outfit for under $10 at the store, she explains.

Wyckoff says many of the clothes she buys comes from the racks at the shop. Shop where prices are the lowest she says, adding regular customers come back to shop every week.

In an effort to save money, volunteers at the shop use recycled rolodex cards as price tags.

Now trendy, shopping in a thrift store used to carry a stigma -- not anymore. As trends recycle, the thrift stores become more popular.

Maleca Whichard keeps a binder filled with every coupon she might need while shopping.

Clipping Savings

Many scan the pages of their local newspaper every weekend looking for the news, not Maleca Whichard.

"First thing I am going for is the coupons," she says adding that she asks for all of her friends newspaper ads as well, wanting to collect as many coupons as possible.

Some say buying groceries is the most expensive part of a household budget -- not when you know how to shop, she says.

The savings add up she says pointing to the overage she got back at the register.

Whichard scans the local ads then scans more online as she looks for the coupons for products she normally buys. After clipping coupons, she shops at the stores who offers double and triple coupons deals. When buying multiple items, she uses multiple coupons. Once she hits the checkout, the savings add up.

During the month of January, she saved over $370 as compared to the $35 she spent. On some days, she gets back more than she spends. On those days Whichard uses the overage to buy big ticket items like meats and detergents.

Now she teaches others what she has learned.

"I just fell in love with couponing and being able to save money," she said as well as sharing with others what she learned. Every two weeks she is invited to hold a workshop where she shares her knowledge to help others save money.

Daniel Russell-Einhorn opened Unique Transportation to offer affordable bikes to those trying to save money and the environment.

Travel For Cheap

Why spend so much on a tank of gas when you could travel on the power of your own legs? Find a low-priced bike and now you are thinking economical.

Daniel Russell-Einhorn had friends building bikes from spare parts and selling them. Though he liked the idea, he thought there had to be a better way to offer affordable new bikes for less. He opened Unique Transportation in downtown Charleston soon after, offering hand-built bikes at a discount.

The line of Affordabikes come in a large array of colors and options.

Calling his bikes Affordabikes, Russell-Einhorn orders parts direct from a distributor and assembles the bikes in the shop. He custom builds the bikes with exactly what a customer would like so the customer dictates the final price depending on the parts they have added.

Russell-Einhorn likes to make each bike unique by custom painting them. He paints the bikes to match the colors of local sororities, colleges or any mix of color schemes. The bikes, simple in design are catching on as people look for alternative means for transportation.

Daniel Russell-Einhorn built his own paint booth to customize the bikes he sells.

Russell-Einhorn says beach-cruiser bikes start at about $100 before interested buyers start adding on more expensive parts.

"We believe the main obstacle holding people back from buying a bicycle is price. If people could Affordabike, they would." Russell-Einhorn says on their website. Saving money on expensive bikes and saving even more avoiding costly fill ups at the pump may make people rethink saving money on transportation.

Though times might be tough, people are finding creative ways to save. What are your secrets to stretching your dollar?


Paul Zoeller is a freelance photographer new to the area. Do you have an idea for a new blog or a question about a current blog? If you do contact Zoeller at

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