Thrift store treasures benefit many
Shoppers never know what they might come across when they walk into the Georgetown Assistance League’s upscale thrift shop at 900 N. Austin Ave. Operated like a boutique, but with thrift shop prices, the store is a treasure trove of finds for savvy bargain hunters.
High-end clothing and household items such as Brighton handbags, Tiffany jewelry, and P. Buckley Moss prints have graced the shelves and been offered for sale at a fraction of the original price.
“We have one jacket now—the original price tag is still on it—and I’ll tell you, it [was originally] hundreds of dollars,” says Jo Hatley, the Georgetown Assistance League’s vice president of membership.
“We don’t get first dibs, though,” she chuckles, explaining that since the shop operates as a nonprofit, rules are in place to prevent cherry-picking by Assistance League volunteers. “We may want it. We may lust over it,” says Jo. “But we can’t buy it. . . . It really wouldn’t support our mission if customers thought we were taking all of the goodies from them.”
As a nonprofit organization—one of 121 Assistance League chapters nationwide—the thrift shop funnels help to those in need in Georgetown and surrounding communities. Its signature program, Operation School Bell, involves purchasing new school clothing and shoes each year for elementary students from low-income families.
In addition to operating their shop, the Georgetown Assistance league hosts the “Books, Bells and Brunch” fundraiser each February, which features talks by local authors, brunch, a silent auction, and a thrift shop fashion show put on by Assistance League volunteers.
This year, the fundraiser has been moved from the Georgetown Recreation Center to the Sun City ballroom, which will allow the group more space, accommodate far more people, and provide a larger stage for the fashion show.
“The fashion show will be clothing exclusively from the shop,” says Judy Swain, public relations manager of Georgetown’s Assistance League. “Our gals always model every year, and then people come and buy our clothes. It’s kind of humorous, actually. Sometimes when our models get off the stage, there will be people walking right behind them, saying, ‘I want that jacket! I want those shoes!’”
Since the items are always one-of-a-kind—or at least one-of-a-kind for the thrift shop—the Assistance League operates sales from its February fashion show as they would in the store: on a first-come, first-served basis.
“So far, the ladies have always been ladies,” Jo jokes. “We haven’t had a brawl yet.”
“People are always surprised by what you can get at the shop,” says Judy, who has personally found several choice items, including a beautiful sweater and jacket. “We’re lucky; we get lots of nice donations,” including many well-known brands for both men and women.
“We also get help from merchants in the community who donate their time and expertise,” Joanne Harrah, Assistant League president, says. “For example, several jewelers repair or appraise items for us, free of charge. Other merchants donate everything from furniture to clothing.”
And as for the regular volunteers, Judy says, “We wouldn’t be here unless we loved it. . . . We all could be doing any number of things, but we all choose to do this.” The Assistance League’s mission to serve unmet community needs, she adds, “is something we care about deeply.”
Visit Assistance League of Georgetown’s new, expanded location at 900 N. Austin Avenue, Ste. 313. Donations of household items, clothing, and jewelry are accepted any time the shop is open. For more information, go to algeorgetownarea.org or call 512-864-2542.
The Georgetown Assistance League’s annual “Books, Bells and Brunch” fundraiser takes place on February 24. Tickets cost $20 each and are available at the thrift shop.