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Thrift stores give community a lift

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Photo by Hank Lohmeyer Two local shoppers leave the Methodist Women's Thrift Shop in Cedaredge with their purchases.

Small town living is thrifty living, and Cedaredge families are fortunate to have two well-managed thrift shop operations that provide quality clothing and other needs at very affordable prices.

The Shelter Shoppe is located on North Grand Mesa Drive just south of the elementary school, and the Methodist Women's Thrift Shop is located in the heart of West Main Street. Both stores offer top-notch merchandising of quality apparel, and both go far beyond their retailing store fronts in the positive impact and contributions they make to the community. Both stores have community connections that run deep, and they provide vital funding for activities and community services without which life in Cedaredge would be much less livable.

From the Shelter Shoppe's signature cause supporting Friends of Cedaredge Animal Control and the Surface Creek Animal Shelter's "adoption guaranteed" program, to the needs of preschool education and a dozen other community services that the Methodist Women's store helps support, the town's thrift shops are getting the work of community done.

Besides being a valuable community asset, the Shelter Shoppe operation provides a delightfully fun and positive social activity for the volunteers who help keep it running. Volunteers Alvena Richard and Marilee Claxton say that the time they volunteer helping at the shelter shop is an absolute high point in their weekly routines and lives.

"You look forward to it because you love it," Richard said. "We do fun things. We buy candy for the customers, and we bring baked goods to the store to share. We're like a family."

Fortunately, this happy family of active community members is looking for new members. There are openings now for anyone who thinks they may want to become a part of it all. Everyone is welcome.

"We are like a unit," Richard explained. New volunteer Kathy Wilcox agreed as the ladies went about their activities arranging merchandise, interacting with customers, joking and laughing and obviously enjoying themselves the entire time. The energy level is high, and the theme is to have a fun time.

"This is my happy place," Richard said.

The volunteers work three hours per shift in as many shifts per week or month as they want to. Her life at the Shelter Shoppe has become such a regular part of Richard's life that she volunteered for three shifts during a recent week.

For those who think they might like to participate in the enterprise during even one shift but aren't wanting to make a firm commitment, there are people who volunteer to serve in backup or on-call shifts if a regular volunteer can't make his or her scheduled time. And, say Claxton and Richard, anyone and everyone is invited to just stop in and browse the store and its merchandise, meet the other volunteers, and see for themselves what a great place it is to volunteer.

As a little side benefit, volunteers are the ones who get the initial opportunity to see, and perhaps purchase, the new arriving merchandise that is donated by members of a generous community.

"We really appreciate so much the people who donate items to the store, and also our wonderful customers. Some of them come in every week," Richard said, "and we miss seeing them when they don't."

Volunteering is a social event and a social occasion that does good for individuals and the whole community, "It is a great way for someone to get established in the community and make friends," Claxton says.

"I have made so many friends here," Richard adds. "And not just with other volunteers, but with customers and donors, too. Sometimes we all go out and have lunches together."

Volunteering is a lifestyle enhancement in its own right. Though the Shelter Shoppe's mission is to raise money to support Friends of Cedaredge Animal Control, volunteering at the Shelter Shoppe doesn't require membership in FCAC or even a particular commitment to the FCAC mission.

Around the corner on Main Street, the Methodist Women's Thrift Shop operates with volunteer staff also. As the store is located right in the middle of the West Main Street district, the staff gets involved in community events that take place there.

The Methodist Women's Thrift Shop will be open all day both Saturday and Sunday, Oct 3 and 4, during Apple-Fest. They will be hosting some special art and craft displays by local artists and crafters that people will want to stop in and enjoy.

Volunteer JoAnn Price is hoping to have as many as a dozen local artists with their works on display for the public to admire and purchase during AppleFest.

It is a savvy business promotion idea by the Methodist ladies and a fun one also that is an additional service to the local arts community which always needs more public exposure.

Also, the Methodist Women's Thrift Shop will have special pricing during AppleFest.

Photo by Hank Lohmeyer New customers, new friends. Shelter Shoppe volunteers Alvena Richard, left, and Marilee Claxton, right, are pictured with two new customers from Salt Lake City, John and Ming, who were driving through town last week and just stopped in.
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