by Kathy Johnson
Whether the need is for school clothes, suitable business attire for an interview, a wedding dress or just something fun for a weekend kick-around, look no farther than our area thrift stores. Those watching their pennies (and who isn’t?) don’t have to settle for big box store designs or hand-me-downs. No stains, no tears, no missing buttons—thrift stores offer some of the best buys out there.
From J. C. Penney to Palm Beach, Stafford, Joseph Banks and other men’s high-quality clothing to Jones of New York, Evan Picone, Talbots and Ann Taylor Loft for the ladies—name brands from mid- to high-end can be found at a number local thrift shops where for as little as $3.50 for a woman’s blazer or $11 for a man’s two- or three-piece suit, a family can dress well and look like a million. Shoes, purses – even hats, can be found at the Green Olive Tree in Crozet and the Treasure Chest in Afton and Goodwill in Waynesboro.
Stores at each location operate much the same way – “We don’t put out anything with stains or tears,” said June Andrews with the Green Olive Tree. Andrews has been with the GOT since it started, 32 years ago, and she takes pride in the work they do benefiting the community. Since there is no paid staff at the GOT, all proceeds benefit the community. “In 32 years nobody ever got a salary,” Andrews said. Volunteers Pat Dillon of Waynesboro, who has been with the shop for nine years, and Pete Garnett, a four-year volunteer from Free Union agreed, “Nobody gets paid.”
The GOT recently relocated next to Crozet Laundromat across from MusicToday. “We are picking up a lot of new people since the move,” Andrews said. The space offers a lot of natural light to view items and an entire outfit can be chosen and accessorized without leaving the store or spending much more than a $10 bill.
Income from the GOT benefits the community through grants to local churches, Crozet Park for the new pool dome, youth groups and the rescue squad and other community needs. The GOT is open Monday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Andrews said she would like to expand the hours, but is limited by the availability of volunteers.
The Treasure Chest located at the Rockfish Valley Community Center in Afton is well-known by Afton and Nellysford residents as a great place to find bargains. The first Saturday of every month is “bag day.” Fill a bag with all the adult clothes you can fit for $10, $7 for children’s clothes. RVCC Members receive a $2 per bag discount. During a recent sale, a women’s three-piece outfit (pants, top & jacket) from Christopher Banks was just $3.50.
Manager Lynn Mark said her family liked to “thrift shop” when on vacation and she would like to create a “Thrift Trail,” like the wine trails, to encourage people to visit local thrift stores.
Proceeds from the Treasure Chest are used to support the Rockfish Valley Community Center. Clothes that are judged not up to the quality the shop wants to sell are distributed to the Women’s Shelter and many are sent to Southwest Virginia locations where the need is great. “We also help families who’ve experienced fire or flood,” said Mark.
Treasure Chest hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. To be acceptable, clothing donations must be clean with working zippers and buttons. Shoes must be in good condition.
In Waynesboro (and 31 surrounding counties), 32 stores and four recycling stores are managed by Goodwill Industries. Goodwill employs many individuals with disabilities and special needs as well as those over the age of 55. They offer a large selection of clothing, shoes and other goods for adults or children.
Jerry Kite, Senior Vice President with Goodwill for those 31 counties said, “We do process all donated materials, remove stained and ripped items and those without buttons. We accept any good items like shoes, ties, purses or clothing.”
And they have many good items. Linda Hershey, president of the Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce in Waynesboro, found a wedding dress at Goodwill in 2006 for $60. The wedding was held in Scotland and when the dress went through customs it was held because custom officials did not believe it cost only $60. In order to retrieve her dress in time for the wedding she had to pay customs $260.
Donors who may be convinced that what they have isn’t good enough to donate will be pleased to learn that Goodwill is happy to accept rags, torn and worn clothing, even fabric scraps. All these can be sold for pennies on the pound. Some are shipped to third world countries to be used as clothing and some, those too stained or damaged to be used, are turned into rag goods. “We try to be the best stewards we can be,” said Kite. Their high volume allows them to make this kind of commitment.
In Waynesboro, Goodwill is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 6. Please note that while Goodwill is happy to accept rags and unwearable clothing to be sold by the pound, no thrift store is willing to accept dirty or badly stained clothing. Clothing, even rags for Goodwill, should be clean before donating.