When I began the project chronicled here I didn't know much of anything about the place I had chosen or the small city of Bluefields nearby. As I became more comfortable moving around Bluefields I began to notice how very well dressed many of the people are.
At first I didn't understand how people in a ‘poverty stricken’ country could afford not only nice clothing but quite fashionable clothing. And then I noticed all the thrift stores. I had seen the stores - without really seeing them - as I was learning my way around a city that was new to me.
But not only did I become a customer of some of these places, over the years I discovered the places that sold the clothing to the stores. Years ago the bales I saw were huge and what was in them wasn't sorted. Buyers might get shoes and toys and sheets and skirts all in one big bale. But somewhere along the line the business got much more organized. Not only have the sizes of the bales gotten much smaller but the items in each bale are now sorted: shirts in this one, baby clothes (by month/age) in that one, shoes here, toys there. Quite a few places take in and sell the bales but even more places sell the items and the thrift store business is thriving.
Now thrift store owners can shop for just the sort of items they want or need because some of the thrift stores specialize...and have their purchases delivered right to their doors:
I’ve benefitted over the years with purchases of clothes and shoes in Bluefields that I've brought right back to the United States…like this almost new pair of leather Clarks Artisan shoes at one of my favorite thrift stores for 30 cordoba:
Note: I base my assumption that most of what is for sale at thrift stores in Bluefields comes from the US on the fact that during my early shopping years in these stores I would find US tags still attached to the items - for instance a Goodwill sweater or a Salvation Army pair of jeans most likely didn't get to a shop on Nicaragua's east coast by way of Japan.