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Inflation has Baton Rouge consumers, stores reeling; ‘it’s just almost like a perfect storm’ | Business

Thrift stores have been close to Alecia McCray’s heart since she was a teenager. But with prices climbing for just about everything, McCray has found herself venturing into them more often these days.

McCray, a 30-year-old florist from Baton Rouge, spent early Friday afternoon wandering up and down the aisles of Our Hope Thrift Store, located on Goodwood Boulevard. She perused clothes, knick knacks and whatever other treasures she could find.

McCray said she tries to keep a mental note of her weekly spending. Going to thrift stores helps with her mission.

“Buying things retail right now is just like throwing your money away,” McCray said.

With no end to rising prices in sight, Baton Rouge residents like McCray are tightening their belts by shopping for cheaper options wherever possible. They’re also leaning more on the region’s network of charitable organizations, which say they’re facing their own issues as demand for their services keeps climbing.

“Certainly, over the course of the pandemic, we’ve been busy, but over the course of the last two months, there are numbers that we haven’t seen in quite a while,” said Michael Acaldo, president and CEO of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a Baton Rouge charitable organization.

Thrifty times

Thrift stores, known for vintage selections at a fraction of their original price, are an easy first stop for customers looking to save some cash.

Mary Alexander, a 56-year-old UPS worker, said she has been going to thrift stores more than usual.

“I always check here first before I even go to Amazon or pay retail,” she said. “I’m more likely to find it at the thrift store.”

Alexander said she’s also checking as many stores as possible for sales, particularly meat or vegetables.

“I’m not a rich person,” she joked. “I’ve always known

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Another Baton Rouge thrift store is closing; this one helps formerly incarcerated women | Business

A Baton Rouge thrift store that aids formerly incarcerated women is planning on closing its doors later this year.

Connections for Life, located on Highland Road near Harding Street just north of LSU, will stay open for “a few months” as it liquidates before shutting down, said Karen Stagg, executive director of the eponymous nonprofit that runs the thrift store.

“Most assuredly, it is a bittersweet time for us because we have loved the opportunity to serve and we hope that we have made a difference,” Stagg said. “It has certainly been our intention to do so.”

Connections for Life’s thrift store is the second such store to close in Baton Rouge in about a month. Here Today Gone Tomorrow, located on Burbank Drive, went out of business in July.

Connections for Life has entered into a “collaborative agreement” with First Grace Community Alliance, which provides food, housing and other emergency needs in New Orleans. First Grace Community Alliance runs Hagar’s House, a program that helps women, children and gender non-conforming people find safe housing, among other initiatives.

As a result, Connections for Life has chosen to shutter its Baton Rouge thrift store and redirect its patrons to services provided by First Grace Community Alliance.

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The nonprofit has wrestled with the decision for months, said Stagg, who added that the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have been difficult.

“The important thing for us is that we be our strategic about our focus and such that women continue to be served and served well,” she said.

Connections for Life incorporated as a nonprofit in February 2000 to help women recently released from prison by offering housing and clothing assistance so they can live independently. The

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