Submitted by Martha Gooding
I’d never been in a thrift store in my entire life before moving to Lopez from Dallas, Texas. I’d been to Goodwill Stores before but only looking for “funny” clothes for costume parties. The Lopez Island Thrift Shop was so clean and organized — not what I had expected. I found a couple of things that I’d actually wear at such bargains I thought someone had made a mistake and I was getting away with someone’s boo-boo pricing. I liked it so much I started volunteering at the front desk last spring and was surprised at how many people I knew who actually worked and shopped there too.
A couple of weeks after my first job shift I was invited to the shop’s thank you tea and annual meeting for volunteers. Midway through the party the president asked each table to stand up and model what they were wearing. I thought “how weird, who cares what we’re wearing.” Table by table the mostly female guests pranced around their tables turning and modeling their really nice outfits. It took me almost the entire time to realize that these fashionably dressed people were showing off – from head to toe – clothes, jewelry, accessories they had found at the thrift shop. My brain was spinning as I started realizing how much money I was going to save on clothes. My husband was going to be sooooo happy! I was going to be so cute.
As the meeting part of the event started, the president spoke about all the individuals and organizations on the island the shop had donated – Hospice, Senior Services, Lopez Family Resource Center, high school scholarships, Catherine Washburn Medical Association, Woodmen Hall and many, many more. I thought “how nice” and figured they’d given maybe $5,000–$8,000 away. I about fell about of my chair when she said they had given $46,000 back to the community in gifts and grants. How did they do that when they charge so little for everything?
Well I decided right then and there that I wanted to be more involved. I became the Lopez Thrift Shop official shoe pricer. What an honor! Too bad I didn’t need a resume anymore to add this to. I have my little corner in the back room where I carefully judge every pair of women’s shoes that come in to see if they‘re good enough for the shop to acquire. As we price our precious merchandise in the back we will often discuss, “What do you think? Is $3 too much or should it be $2.50?” Everyone stops what they’re doing, carefully inspects the item and a discussion ensues as to its merits. Eventually a price is agreed upon and onto the racks it goes. How do we get anywhere with such time and attention devoted to a $3 item? This happens almost constantly as pricing is done. How in the world did they get up to $46,000 to give away after all of their expenses with mostly $3 items? What an amazing organization. And what an amazing community that so generously gives of its time and “gently used” items. I wanted to write this so other people knew how much the thrift shop gives back. Are you blown away. I hope so. Gotta love this place.