Volunteers are the backbone of CRRC, and nowhere is that more obvious than at the Thrift Store. Here, volunteers receive donations. All donations are sorted. Some go to the barn, and most go to the thrift store. Some go in the trash bin. Once they are sorted, volunteers price most of the items. Then, volunteers distribute the items to the proper store location. Housewares, electronics, clothing, household items, school/office supplies, computer supplies, books, DVDs, Christmas items, magazines, collectibles, porcelain dolls, greeting cards, jewelry, and antiques all have their own sections. And, in some cases, a volunteer is assigned as the lead in a section. Other volunteers are cashiers. Others research antiques or collectible book donations for proper pricing. There’s a job for just about anyone wanting to volunteer. There’s a volunteer for just about any section. And the perks? Well, let’s just say there are some special ones, and leave it at that. For now.
The Canyon Lake community, through its donations, continues to make sure that the CRRC Thrift Store is a great conduit for supporting the manifold mission of CRRC.
Executive Director Darin Zumwalt said the store provides more than 50% of the operating revenues the organization needs.
“If we didn’t have the generous community that we have, we wouldn’t be able to provide the services that we do,” he said.
“That has been the legacy and history of CRRC. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of.”
Thrift Store Manager Clifton Small said, “We are overwhelmed with the generosity of our community’s donations to us,” and added that, at times, it is impossible to find space for it all and time to sort through it.
He explained, “because of limited space, time, staff and money, we must be very particular on what items we can accept.” While the organization appreciates the thoughts behind donations, he likes for people to remember the logic of selling and buying. “If you can’t sell it at your garage sale, and you don’t want it anymore, we probably can’t sell it either.”
True, there are exceptions to that theorem, just like there are to others. But Small said it is nice when people consider the item before donating.
“Any donation we can’t sell, or is broken, we have to put in our dumpsters. When we have to call for an extra pick-up, that’s $250 worth of groceries we can’t buy for the food pantry,” Small said.
Resource Program Manager Maureen Schein said that amount is more than 1,600 lbs. of food from the San Antonio Food Bank – an amount that can provide a load of groceries for nine families of four.
Often, people will leave donations after-hours, and “100 percent of the time it is donations that we would not accept in person and would turn away. So, this is basically dumping on us and costing us,” Small said.
He also explained that the donation hours (9:00 to 2:00, Mon-Sat) are necessary to help the store maintain some organization. The hour before is reserved for employees to organize and get ready for the day, and the hours after are for employees to put away what has been dropped off.
“We have to have a stopping time so we can get everything put up for the day so we can leave somewhere close to closing time and to avoid overtime,” he said.
“This is the only time we can catch up and process for the day without interruption.” Small added just a few guidelines for making your donations easier for you and the store: pull up and drop off your donations at the barn outside (don’t take them inside) and take all clothes off the hangers. Small said all donations go to the barn first. “This keeps donation traffic out of the store and leaves room for our shoppers.”
Some hints from our thrift store manager:
Prices for the items are based upon their current condition, their age and the current value. But don’t be fooled. There are plenty of great $1 and $2 bargains in the CRRC Thrift Store!
Antique prices are about 1/3 of current retail shop values. If you find something in our antique section, we can pretty much guarantee you won’t find it for less anywhere else. The thrift store manager has been collecting antiques for over 30 years. So, he knows about pricing, and he knows bargains!
Clothing. The condition of the clothing will determine its price. Sometimes, we get top, fashion-designer items. We place those on our boutique rack. You can find clothing items that still have new item tags on them!
Barn items. The last Tuesday of the month is a great time to shop around the barn. It’s not as well-organized as the store, but you can find some amazing items if you have the patience to look.
The staff decides what is housed in the barn. It’s a good “scratch ‘n dent” center for just about anything; and, since it is mainly our hardware section, you’ll find hardware items located in bins and boxes in the back of the building.
What’s the best way to find a bargain? Don’t come looking for something. Just come expecting to find something!