Those of you that have ever been to a thrift store know the surge of adrenalin you feel when you find a “treasure.” A like-new set of golf clubs, the perfect chair to fit your empty corner, clothes that look like they haven’t been worn, thrift stores are a virtual treasure-trove. For those of us that don’t mind digging for gold, such stores are amazing. But have you ever wondered where the money you spend goes?
Dakota Boys Ranch: Lisa Olson
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch was started in 1952 to help at-risk children and their families in the name of Christ. The organization currently serves kids ages 10-18 that have psychiatric, behavioral, and trauma issues. According to Vice-President of Retail Operations Lisa Olson, there are currently eight Dakota Boys Ranch thrift stores: North Fargo, South Fargo, West Fargo, Dilworth, Grand Forks, Devils Lake, Minot, and Bismarck. “We are a local thrift store that supports a local mission,” Olson said.
For Olson, it is all about that mission. “My favorite part of working at the Ranch is knowing that the hard work all of the staff and volunteers do is helping raise funds for the programs for the kids at the Ranch,” she said. “100% of the store’s profits go to help fund those programs.”
Olson has seen everything from high-end furniture to designer clothes find a new home. “We serve as the conduit to find a new home and value for those items that are no longer needed or wanted by the donor,” she explained. “The best compliment I can hear is when someone excitedly tells me, ‘I bought this at one of the Ranch Thrift Stores’.”
Jazzy & Mumbos:
In 2009, Wendy Cowan opened a thrift store that’s all about pets. 100% of the profits from Dilworth’s Jazzy & Mumbos goes back into the community to help pets in need. “We have helped hundreds of people with their pets, from medication and dental work to shots and spaying and neutering,” Cowan said.
Although Cowan has a full-time job necessary to “pay the bills,” her heart is in the store. “I love everything about it,” she said. “Our regular customers and one-of-a-kind and we appreciate everything they do for us.”
Jazzy & Mumbos try not to take TVs, computer items, or mattresses, but they sell virtually anything else you can think of. “We try and sell the best of the donations that we get,” she said. “Some of the most unique items can be found at a thrift store; they are really fun to walk through.”
Although the proceeds go to help pets in need, Cowan works hard to support the community as much as possible. “If we do not sell an item, we give it away,” she explained. “The community has been there for us, and we want to continue to be there for them.” If donated clothing doesn’t sell, for instance, Cowan donates it to needy people within the community, a local addiction center, or homeless shelters. “We do not throw things away unless it is actually garbage.”
Information on Jazzy & Mumbos can be obtained at www.jazzynmumbosthriftstore.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Jazzy-Mumbos-Animal-Aid-Thrift-Store.
The Arc Attic Treasures:
Another vibrant thrift store in the FM area is The Arc Attic Treasurers. The store has a long history, having opened its doors for the first time in 1954 by a group of parents who wanted to speak up for their children with developmental disabilities. “The goal was for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to be able to be a member of the community like everyone else,” explained Assistant Director Kati Nelson.
The Arc is another example of a thrift store that puts its profits back into the community. “90% of the funding for the programs (through the Arc of Cass County) for people with developmental disabilities comes from our thrift stores,” Nelson explained. The satisfaction Nelson feels, however, goes beyond dollars and cents. “It is rewarding to see someone with a disability realize that they are able to help make a decision about their own life,” she said. “Once this realization occurs there is no stopping them and it is amazing to see that transformation.”
The store also carries a wide range of items and the inventory changes daily. “The staff at The Arc Attic Treasures work hard to only sell good quality, gently used merchandise at a reasonable price,” Olson explained. In addition, the store has new sales every month that can be monitored by visiting www.arccassnd.org or the store’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thearcofcasscounty.
Moorhead Thrift Shop:
On the other side of the river is another staple in the thrift store scene. The Moorhead Thrift Shop opened in 1975 and has worked hard to help support the community ever since. President and Manager Donny Skyberg estimates that the store has donated over $529 thousand to local charities. Thanks to volunteers like Skyberg, the store isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon.
The Moorhead Thrift Shop donates to 20 charities including food banks, hospice, recovery worship, veteran’s organizations, and local shelters. “I also give anyone $25 worth of free clothes if they bring in a slip for a social worker,” Skyberg said.
Like most area thrift stores, the Moorhead Thrift Shop relies on its volunteers to keep the store operating. Skyberg estimates that he has donated over 26 thousand hours. “It is a lot of fun and very gratifying,” he said.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the thrift stores in the F/M area. It does, however, give one a good understanding of the important work thrift stores do. The next time you are considering throwing something away, why not donate it instead. You never know who may be helped by your donation.
By Jamee Larson