There are so many second-hand stores in St. Helens. What makes Top Notch different?
While it's true there are many resale shops in St. Helens, Top Notch is one of only three nonprofit stores. Since our merchandise comes from donations from the community, we are able to price our merchandise lower than most for-profit businesses that have to purchase their inventory. We are also mostly volunteers, so our hearts are what drive us to serve the community as well as the St. Helens Senior Center. We are the only store in town that supports the Senior Center and its programs, including home-delivered meals.
Besides our charitable mission, our customers will tell you the main difference between us and our competitors: we live up to our name. We have top notch merchandise, top notch customer service, and top notch staff. We have set the bar high, and we strive every day to exceed that level.
"Your prices are great!" "Your prices are a little high."
Yes, we have heard both! We offer great deals on basic household items and clothing. It's true that we do have some higher-priced merchandise to offer as well, because the community has given us lovely vintage collectibles, brand new items, and valuable treasures. We do our best to determine a fair price (see next question) that keeps the needs of both the Senior Center and the community in mind.
You have such a wide variety of merchandise. How are prices determined?
Our volunteers have years of experience in the thrift store business that give us an idea of what will sell and at what price in the Columbia County area. We also have generous experts who donate their time to give us the benefit of their expertise in the areas of fine and vintage jewelry; vintage books; electronics; leather crafts; vintage dolls; and collectibles such as marbles, knives, and Native American artifacts. We also research, research, research to determine relative values. Even after all this effort we may price an item too high for what the Columbia County market will bear. We'll soon know it, because the item will sit on the shelf! When that happens, we have a three-month rotation of price tag colors that are discounted on a regular basis, thus clearing the way for customers to buy something at a price they can afford.
Why won't you haggle over your prices?
Because of the effort we put into determining a fair price for our merchandise, all of our prices are firm. Our "no haggling" policy offers consistency and relieves our many volunteers of having to determine on the spot whether or not to take less for an item. We feel having a firm price policy gives everyone the same opportunity to buy at a fair price.
What discounts do you offer?
Although 55 is the new 35, we offer "seniors" over 55 a 10% discount on their entire purchase every day of the week. We also offer a daily sale of a basket of clothing for $5.00, as long as we have enough in stock (so bring in your donations!) In addition, each week we discount categories of merchandise where we have an over-abundance. And lastly, we have the above-mentioned monthly rotation of colored price tags that are discounted. Sales on already great prices? What a deal!
What is your return policy?
Needless to say, previously used items purchased at a thrift store are "as is." However, if you decide you want to return something, just present the item with your receipt and you will receive a store credit. Returns on electronic items are allowed within 7 days of purchase. Because clothing can be purchased in a basket sale for pennies, you may exchange clothing for a like item or for full credit if your receipt indicates you purchased it separately. To help you decide on clothing, we furnish a fitting room so clothing may be tried on prior to purchase.
What do you take as donations? Are there items you don't accept?
My donation is perfectly good/my donation just needs slight repairs. Why won't you take it?
A few people think that just because we are a thrift store, we should take any used item they have. However, through our experience, we know what will sell and what won't in our store. We are just not equipped with space, volunteer time, or monetary resources to mend broken things, launder dirty clothing, or pay for extra garbage hauling. We hope the community understands the restrictions we have to put on our acceptable donations list.