Used clothing, ash-filled urn, forgotten treasures
EAGLE – Elizabeth Myers still gets goosebumps when she talks about it.Sitting on a wooden back chair donned with a $10 price tag, Myers recalled the day an urn filled with human ashes was donated to the Eagle Thrifty Shoppe. An older man died, and someone cleaned out his house, donating many of his possessions to the store. Myers, the store’s general manager, said that because of a general “discomfort with death,” the staff asked her to throw out the ashes.”I just couldn’t bring myself to do that,” Myers said.So Myers took the urn to her office at the Edwards Thrifty Shoppe, where it sat on a shelf for a few days. She then decided to scatter the ashes, with another employee, over the Eagle River. The two performed a makeshift ceremony, and threw the ashes over a bridge.”We were very profoundly moved by and feel very blessed by this person,” Myers said.Myers said that it is this sort of engagement with the community that makes the Thrifty Shoppe special, and keeps customers coming back. The Christian business prides itself on its involvement with people. “This is the essence of who we are,” she said.
“A book. Un libro,” Myers tells a little boy in her store after he picks up a novel from the bookshelf.Many of the customers and employees at the Thrifty Shoppe are Hispanic. When volunteers are needed, she said, friends in the Hispanic community will respond “at the drop of a hat.””The people I deal with are the salt of the earth,” she said. Myers said about half of her customers come in at least once a day to shop and to chat with the employees. Some come in two or three times every day.What Starbucks is for some people, Myers said, the Thrifty Shoppe is for others – their human contact for the day. People come in to see other people.Many customers also like the feeling they get while shopping at the store; they feel good about themselves after they can socialize with the community and “find a treasure,” Myers said.Employee Dennel Rivera said she likes to see the senior citizens from the Eagle Senior Center when they come in the door. “They say they feel really special while they are here,” she said. “They get lots of attention.”Myers recalled a day when the “no pets allowed” rule had to be bent because a man wanted his dog to pick out its own stuffed animal. She let the dog in the store.Other customers may come in with some necessities on the shopping list, but without the money to pay. The store does everything it can to accommodate people will different needs, she said.”We give them what they need because of who we are,” Myers said.
Rivera laughs while describing some of the donations she has seen while working at the Thrifty Shoppe.”A lot of censored stuff,” she said.The staff acknowledged they have seen the occasional vibrator and other sexually explicit merchandise, but said the more remarkable items donated are diamond rings, pearls, family pictures, and antiques.”You get the gross with the awesome,” Myers said. Anything that the store staff chooses not to sell, either because of low demand or because it is not the quality they like to put on the floor, is donated to ARC in Denver for use at the Denver Rescue Mission. Myers said this is the “win, win, win” of the Thrifty Shoppe. People have a place to donate unwanted items, then shoppers have a place to purchase this merchandise at a very low price – like $3 for a slightly worn GAP shirt. All the proceeds are donated to charity.Some items “sell like hot cakes,” Myers said. Many people in Vail and Beaver Creek will donate skis used only a few times or clothing worn only once. “But then you get the bachelor men donating three trash bags full of filthy clothing,” she said. At the store now is a handwritten baby biography scrapbook for Alan Barnes Walker, born in Flushing, N.Y., on June 7, 1915. The child’s certificate of baptism, a chart of his weight – 8.4 pounds at birth, handwritten notes of his first steps and words, and a lock of his hair are all stuffed inside the leather-bound book. Myers said it is not uncommon for the store to get such personal merchandise, like the urn or the scrapbook, especially after someone dies.”We get it all.”Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado