“We have always relied 100% on donations and volunteers,” said Bill Gillespie, one of the shop’s directors.
The thrift shop, which was started by the women of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, collects gently used donations for the community. Any donations they get that they cannot use, such as broken or stained items, are picked up by Purple Heart.
“We are trying to sell good quality [items],” Gillespie said.
The thrift shop receives women’s clothes more than any other donation—it receives so many, in fact, that it has to change merchandise after summer and winter.
Other acceptable donations include toys, books, records, small furniture and clothing. The shop also occasionally receives items it has to turn away, such as mattresses, old televisions and even hubcaps.
While the nonprofit always needs donations and volunteers, it receives many donations each week. Every week, donations will fill up the shed in the back of the property, as well as the entryway; at that point, it can take 14-16 volunteers seven hours to sort through the goods, Gillespie said. Because new merchandise is sorted Monday, Tuesday is the busiest day of the week, said Peter Gilmour, another shop director.
Sorting through merchandise is one of the challenges of the job, Gillespie said.
“We are very different from a regular store in that we don’t order supplies,” Gillespie said. “We have to check everything that come[s] in and get rid of a lot.”
Roughly 15% of profit is kept to pay for the overhead, and the rest is donated to over 20 charities in the Houston area.
Since 2012, the nonprofit has donated almost $1 million to charities in the area, a goal they will reach once more by the end of this year, director and treasurer Sherry Fisher said.
All shop employees are volunteers, including the six directors, two of which are Gillespie and Gilmour.
“We are always looking for volunteers,” Gillespie said.
The best part of volunteering is helping and getting to know the shop’s customers and regulars, Gilmour said.
“We have regulars we know by name—it’s a labor of love,” he said.