CLAY TODAY Holiday Gift Guide 2011 

By Christina Leach Phillips

Correspondent

Christian Williams is the Salvation Army Store Manager.

Faye Reeves is a cashier at Quigley House.

MIDDLEBURG — Every Wednesday, Ann Masud fromFlemingIsland, shops at the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Middleburg for its “Wacky Wednesday” specials with discounts of 50 percent on most items. 

“They always have such nice stuff,” said Masud, who had a brass candelabra in her shopping cart. “It’s a way to save money in this economy, especially.”  

Masud said she see a lot of people who shop there for name brand clothing. “If you really like a shirt, you know come Wednesday, if it’s $2, you are going to get it for $1,” she said.

Christian Williams, store manager, said a truck arrives daily with donated merchandise, and on Wacky Wednesday mornings, he said, “There are 60 people waiting at the door at 10 o’clock (a.m.).”

As the holidays approach, many shoppers are looking for bargains, andClayCountyhas several thrift stores that not only offer low prices, but the proceeds go to good causes.

Money earned at the Middleburg store at2221 County Road220 goes to the Jacksonville Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC), a drug and alcohol treatment program.

Walking into the Salvation Army Thrift Store is like walking into a department store.  Merchandise is displayed by category, including furniture, jewelry, linens, clothing, purses, shoes, electronics, housewares, holiday decorations, and toys. Everything appears to be in gently used condition, and there are many new items with price tags still attached.

James Mauch said this was his first visit to the store. “It’s a nice store.  I was impressed when I came in,” he said.

“I found this fossilized fish for 99 cents. It’s real — I think — That’s a bargain for a million-year-old something,” said Mauch.

At the Quigley House Thrift Store at1017 Blanding Boulevard, the site of the old Woodchuck’s furniture store, Faye Reeves was operating the cash register and pricing merchandise on a recent Saturday afternoon.

Reeves, who has worked at the thrift store for over six years, said that people shop there because of their low prices and the quality of the merchandise. 

“We get a lot of merchandise from the malls and the neighboring Ace Hardware, Publix, Winn-Dixie, and the dress stores in the mall give us all their clothes with new tags,” she said.

The Quigley House Thrift Store displays merchandise neatly on shelves in several rooms, including areas for furniture, housewares and holiday decorations, and one large room filled with racks of clothing.

The proceeds from thrift store sales go to Quigley House, a domestic violence and sexual assault shelter for women, their children, and their pets.

Michael Ingram is Manager of Retail Operations for three Haven Hospice Attic Resale Shops, including one that opened in March at1801 Wells RoadinOrangePark.

“We generally have a good selection of holiday items for people to choose from, and a lot of the items are kind of unique,” he said. “In a resale store, it’s not like we have one item and a thousand others like it in the back — We  have one item, and it might be something that was made years ago, and it is not made any more.”

Ingram said he and the workers at the store check the internet and ebay to determine the value of items, and they price them for about one-third to one-half of what they sell for on the open market.

“I have people who come in the store every day, sometimes several times a day,” he said.  “About a week ago, I had a guy come up to me and say, ‘Hey, Mike.  I found this item at your store that you guys are selling for $20, and I looked it up on the internet, and it’s worth $300.’”

Ingram said, “I hate to lose the money, but at the same time, that’s why people come to resale stores.”

According to Ingram, the number one seller at his store is housewares, which is about 45 percent of revenue, and clothing, some of which is new with price tags still on from higher end stores.

“We sell Xboxes, Xbox games, and video games for a fraction of what they pay at other places,” he said. “Children’s clothing starts at $1.49 up to $5. We sell baby dolls, board games, Christmas decorations, and Christmas dishes.”

Ingram said that one hundred percent of the profits from the thrift shop go to hospice patient care.

“We have a shortfall each year in the amount of money that our patients’ insurance covers. The money is used for patient care for things not covered by Medicare or private insurance they don’t deem necessary but that we feel are vital to the well being of our patients,” he said. “For example, palliative care, massage therapy, helps them to relax. We have to find some other way to pay for it.”

Ingram said many people who donate to the store include those whose families have been helped by the hospice organization. “We have a very loyal group,” he said.

Does he shop at thrift stores?  “I don’t shop anywhere else now, unless I have to have it immediately,” said Ingram.

For more information, go online to http://www.havenhospice.org/attic.html, http://www.quigleyhouse.org, and http://www.salvationarmy.org.

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