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Thrift shop donations go a long way

Nikki Inglis
Vail, CO Colorado
Preston Utley/Vail DailyLupita Dozal tags clothes that are ready to be sold while piles of donated clothing sit behind her Tuesday at the Thrifty Shoppe in Edwards.
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EDWARDS, Colorado ” Fonda Brumbalow never pictured herself working at a thrift store, but the Thrifty Shoppe in Edwards holds a special appeal.

The store receives all sorts of donations, from miniskirts to skis to old exercise equipment, and sells the items at a discounted price. But the Thrifty Shoppe is not just a haven for bargain hunters and pack rats: it is part of an effort to help care for people in need in the Vail Valley.

“When I found out this was a nonprofit, and that 100 percent of the profits go back into the community, I was all for it,” Brumbalow said.



The Thrifty Shoppe, along with a second location in Eagle, is run by Vail Valley Cares, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Trinity Church of the Vail Valley. All of the profit raised by the two stores is put back into the community in the form of yearly grants to several charitable organizations that help people in need.

The organization recently gave $270,000 to 35 charities around the Valley. A luncheon was held on Aug. 14 to celebrate the contributions to the community.



This year’s recipients included organizations such as Eagle Valley Family Assistance Fund, Eagle River Youth Coalition, Meet the Wilderness, Vail Valley Charitable Fund, and The Literacy Project.

From the simple donations of a few old T-shirts to the constant support of several retail organizations and individuals in the Vail Valley, an extensive network of local support has allowed the Thrifty Shoppes to raise over $1.2 million since the program began in 2000, said Phil Carter, manager of the Thrifty Shoppes.

Carter believes that donations of this size are made possible by the entire community.



“It’s definitely all walks of life donating, and all walks of life buying inexpensive items from us, allowing us to help humanity,” he said.

Carter said that he has not seen any drastic changes in the success of the thrift stores due to the state of the economy, although he guessed that people might hold onto some of their things a little longer.

This was not the case, however, with one particular Beaver Creek resident who cleaned out his entire house and donated the items to the Thrifty Shoppe. When the staff had finished sorting through the items and pricing them, the donation amounted to about $60,000.

Greg Osteen, executive director of Vail Valley Cares, said that many Thrifty Shoppe donors probably aren’t aware of their contribution to the community.

“A lot of people just look at it as a way to get rid of stuff or clean out their garage,” he said. “But we help a lot of great organizations and thousands of families in the Valley each year.”

The Literacy Project is an example of how the profit from the Thrifty Shoppes end up feeding the needs of the community. The organization teaches both adults and kids to read through its partnership with Colorado Mountain College. The Literacy Project has received a donation from Vail Valley Cares for the past two years, including a $3,000 grant this year.

Spokesperson Colleen Gray called the Vail Valley Cares contributions “tremendous.”

The contributions went to help fund programs such as Homework Helpers, which support children kindergarten through 5th grade. The Literacy Project also offers tutoring programs for middle school -aged children, and adults can enroll in courses that teach English as a second language, Gray said.

The widespread contributions to the community can be traced back to the employees and donors of the Thrifty Shoppes, as well as the constant support of avid bargain hunters who are always looking for the next diamond in the rough.

“We get some people in here who say, ‘You guys have some amazing stuff!” Brumbalow said. “Things that are $200 across the street you can find for $20 here, and some things have the tags still on them. We all work really hard. $270,000 is a lot. It’s really amazing.”


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