Giving the gift of thrift

Alex Miller
Preston Utley/Vail DailyAna Lilia Chavez left, and Imelda Garcla, right hung donated clothes Thursday at the Thrifty Shoppe in Edwards.

EAGLE COUNTY – With two stores that carry goods ranging from skis and golf clubs to toys, clothes and furniture, The Thrifty Shoppe is living proof that the more affluent the community, the better the quality of the stuff people get rid of. And now’s the time, says Thrifty Shoppe supervisor Cheryl Braucht, to think about doing a little spring cleaning and hauling in a pile of stuff someone else could use more than you. The Thrifty Shoppe is a little under-stocked right now, Braucht says, adding that they rely on donations to keep things running.”We’re praying for you to donate,” she says. “Without donations, we’re nothing.”Run by the Christian assistance group Vail Valley Cares, The Thrifty Shoppe has a store in Edwards and another in Eagle, and all profits go to various local charities that help the needy. A donation of “gently used” goods is quickly sorted by staff and volunteers at the store, and there’s no shortage of good stuff to be found.”The best thing is to come in on a regular basis,” says Braucht, proudly displaying her own fashionable outfit comprised entirely of merchandise from the store. “We turn things over regularly, so if you come in once a week or so, you’ll find the best deals and see entirely new stuff.”Like most thrift stores, The Thrifty Shoppe has its fair share of random merchandise. There’s a bucket of computer keyboards next to a pile of outmoded printers. A sift through the T-shirt collection yielded a few classics, like a “Hyatt Regency Beaver Creek Family Picnic 1997” (in large) as well as an equally tempting “Eagle River Watershed Council” collectible.

Vintage Jane Fonda workout tapes compete for space with Stephen Jay Gould audio books, and the snowboard bin even contained a monoski.Overall, though, Braucht isn’t kidding when she says The Thrifty Shoppe doesn’t deal in the kind of junk you’re likely to find in, say, a Denver thrift store. (In fact, that’s exactly where they send their seconds.) It’s a neat, well-organized store with nary a frayed cuff or chipped cup in sight.Picking up a pair of nearly new Cole Haan women’s boots in supple black leather, Braucht guesses they’d fetch $400 new. She turns one over to display the price: $20.”You can live it up for not much,” she says. “I finished my entire house for about $1,000 – china, silver service, all top-quality and name-brand things.” Thrifty tacticsMany people in the area looking to “downsize” their lives find their way to The Thrifty Shoppe, Braucht says. They divest themselves of all those Ralph Lauren shirts and Prada shoes, drop off entire collections of knick-knacks as well as genuine antiques and never-used stuff still in the box.

At the other end of the spectrum are more workaday items, from your $20 TV stand to a $4 plaid shirt – all in good shape.”We have our addicts,” Braucht says, referring to customers who come in regularly to check on the latest. “It’s a wonderful thing for many women, that retail therapy. It keeps them out of trouble because they can come in and get a bunch of shoes and clothes and only spend a few bucks.”Bargains aside, the bottom line for The Thrifty Shoppe and Vail Valley Cares is that the proceeds go to a good cause.”We’re only here to help the community,” Braucht says, adding that the store also has need for volunteers, especially in summer. “It’s a good place to get cheered up, and you get a discount up to 50 percent depending on how many hours you’ve worked.”Vail Valley Cares grants have been given to community service organizations such as The Vail Valley Charitable Fund, Habitat for Humanity, Snowboard Outreach Society, The Resource Center, Meet the Wilderness, Catholic Charities, The Community Outreach Breakfast Program and many others.Donations are accepted any time during store hours.

“Bring it in,” Braucht says. “We’re waiting for you!”==========================================Operating hoursThe Thrifty Shoppe in Edwards is located right off Highway 6 in the Edwards Business Center (926-7134). The Eagle store is on Chambers Avenue (328-1444). The stores are open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.==========================================Vail, Colorado

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