Fancy furniture breaks record
Vail, CO Colorado
EDWARDS ” Spencer Lambert’s request to have a truck come pick-up all of his furniture was just like any other, but his donation ended up being a record breaker.
Lambert and his wife, Shari, had just bought new furnishings for their Bachelor Gulch condominium and had no need for the designer Slifer furnishings that came with it. Instead of selling the furniture, Lambert said, he and his wife thought they and the community could both benefit if it was all donated to charity.
“It just worked out to be a good idea for everyone involved,” Lambert said. “They are a great organization and do wonderful things for people in need, and I can’t think of a better thing to do with unwanted furniture than to help people in need.”
It all started when Lambert called Thrifty Shoppe employee Elizabeth Myers. Myers told him 50 percent of the store’s profits go to local charities in the form of grants. At the time, Myers was unaware of the amount and quality of the furniture Lambert wanted to donate.
“I just believe so much in what we do here, and I have a tendency to get carried away when people ask about it,” Myers said. “I thought to myself, ‘Great, more furnishings that we can sell to further our donations,’ but when we got there we thought we were in the wrong place. We just couldn’t believe he was donating these amazing things to us.”
The donation consisted of leather couches, living room tables, bedroom furniture, cabinets, art work, middle-eastern rugs and other odds and ends. All the furniture was from Slifer Designs, and Myers said the quality of the items presented a unique challenge.
As truck after truck brought Lambert’s donation back to the Edwards store, Myers and manager, Greg Osteen, scurried to make pricing decisions. Luckily, they say, the Slifer showroom is across the road from the Thrifty Shoppe and they were able to get a beginning price to base their “thrifty price” on. Some pieces were donated with price tags still on them.
Osteen said once they saw what the goods were worth, they then had to find a way to make the furnishings affordable. Osteen said he and Lambert discussed the possibility of selling to a group that wanted to buy the whole lot at a higher price but ultimately decided to price the items so a variety of people could buy them.
When all was said and done, all but three of the items donated were sold within three days at 50 cents on the dollar. It was the quality and condition of the furniture that led Myers and Osteen to sell the furniture at half-off the regular selling price and not lower.
“We feel a responsibility to the community to handle their donations in a responsible way,” Osteen said. “If we sell expensive things at the Thrifty Shoppe people get upset, but if we can sell it at a hugely discounted price and still make as much profit as possible that’s what we are going to do. It’s just more money we can give away in grants.”
Lambert’s donation not only netted the store approximately $30,000 to give away as grants, it also was the single busiest day in Thrifty Shoppe history.
“It was an exciting day because word of mouth is so huge in the valley and we were just jammed with people waiting to see what would come off the truck next,” Myers said. “It was great fun, and some Slifer employees even came over to join in the fun and bought things.”
Myers said Lambert’s donation was “hugely generous” and will always be remembered, just as all donations to the store are appreciated.
“What Spencer did was just great and will help so many people, but everybody’s donation is important and we wouldn’t survive without all the bags of clothes and if we just sat around waiting for big donations like his,” Myers said.
Really, it’s the bags of clothes that keep the store in the business of giving. Pricing for clothing ranges from 20 cents to 30 cents on the dollar depending on the brand.
The Thrifty Shoppe donated $200,000 last year in the form of grants to such charities as The Learning Camp, Meet the Wilderness, Catholic Charities, The Resource Center, Cornerstone Pregnancy Resource Center and others.
Staff writer Alison Miller can be reached at 748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.