After the Covid-19 pandemic shut retailers down last spring, Uptown Cheapskate reopened in May 2020 with owner Amber Watt feeling cautiously optimistic that the store would be able to recover from the devastating hit it took during its closure in late-March and all of April.
What a difference a year makes.
The trendy resale clothing store in the Publix-anchored City Plaza at Tampa Palms shopping center is thriving — and continues to grow.
“We’ve been doing really great,” Amber says. “Every month is better than the last.”
In fact, the store’s sales are above where they were pre-Covid and it seems that, every month, there are even more customers looking for great deals on brand name items and wanting to sell their unwanted clothes. Amber thinks that’s because Uptown Cheapskate is a win-win for the community.
First, the store pays cash for clothing, shoes and handbags that are just taking up space in your home.
Those items that you no longer want can put cash in your pocket and keep the clothes from hitting a landfill.
And that’s not the only environmental impact.
According to Uptown Cheapskate’s website at UptownCheapskate.com, buying used instead of new clothing can reduce your carbon footprint by at least 60 percent, more than if you were to quit using your car.
It’s also a lot easier on your wallet, with prices on “upcycled” clothing at Uptown Cheapskate selling for a mere fraction of what the on-trend, designer pieces sell for new at retail stores. The savings can be 70 to 90 percent.
Some popular brands the store currently sells — and is looking to buy — include American Eagle, Vans, adidas, lululemon, Levi’s, Free People, Nike, Coach, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, H&M and more.
Uptown Cheapskate is part of a national franchise that started in Salt Lake City in 2009, and now has 80 locations across the U.S., including three in Florida. At 4,800 square feet, the Tampa Palms location is larger than most Uptown Cheapskate stores, which are typically closer to around 3,000 square feet.
The large store means lots of inventory for shoppers, and it’s all kept organized and neat, to feel more like an upscale boutique than a thrift store.
While Covid had its impact, the store is pretty much back to pre-pandemic protocols. Employees are wearing masks, but vaccinated customers are not required to wear masks in the store. And, all dressing rooms are open.
Amber says customers love when the store offers additional deals, such as the recent Dollar Days, which ended July 18. During this sale, clearance items were sold for as little as a $1. Also, the state of Florida’s sales tax holiday for back-to-school is being held now through August 9, which will save customers the 7.5% sales tax typically charged at the store.
While sales at Uptown Cheapskate are brisk, Amber says that means there’s a constant need for new items to sell.
“We still need more stuff,” she says. “Especially spring and summer items — we cannot get enough of those here in Florida.”
While Uptown Cheapskate buys all seasons all year ‘round, Amber says Florida is essentially a one-season state and items for warm weather are always in the greatest demand.
“We never have enough shorts, tank tops, short sleeves and dresses,” she says, adding that the local Uptown Cheapskate store just added a vintage corner for the first time.
“It’s so fun,” says Amber of her new vintage department, “and very popular right now.”
Amber says windbreakers are flying off the shelves, along with oversized sweatshirts and graphic tees from the 1980s and ‘90s.
While she says a lot of the store’s customers are USF students, there also are a lot of customers from both New Tampa and Wesley Chapel.
If you want to sell clothing and other items to the store, just stop in anytime it’s open, but always bring in your items at least one hour before closing.
Sellers receive a cash offer for any items the store wants to buy, or 25 percent more if they choose store credit instead of cash. If any items are not purchased by the store, the seller has the option to leave them to be donated to the Salvation Army, which picks up from the Tampa Palms location two or three times a week. You can always choose to keep them if you prefer.
With customer service and a boutique atmosphere the priorities of the store, shopping at Uptown Cheapskate won’t feel like thrift store shopping. Even as shoppers rave about how neat and tidy the store is, and the great customer service, Amber strives to keep improving.
“We’ve been trying to step up our game in terms of organization,” she says. “We are making things more consistent, and becoming even more detail-oriented.”
Amber says she pushes her team every day towards her goal of “making sure the experience is perfect every time.”
Uptown Cheapskate is located at 16031 Tampa Palms Blvd. W. Store hours are Monday–Thursday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and noon-6 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, call (813) 287-8696 or visit UptownCheapskate.com.