CARY — A year ago, the founders of Thrift n Gift knew the nonprofits greatest need was more space.
That challenge is now off the groups wish list. What started as a small thrift store in downtown Cary recently moved to a 20,000-square-foot space on East Chatham Street.
Wide aisles and a welcome reception greet customers in what looks more like a showroom than a second-hand shop. The setup is intentional.
We operate like a department store, said Debbie Dillon, who founded the store with George King in 2010. We meet and greet at the door and help people find what theyre looking for. If we dont have it, well take your name and let you know if it comes in.
Like most thrift stores, Thrift n Gift has a bit of everything. Shirley Temple dolls and Precious Moments figurines line decorative shelves just beyond the furniture section. Womens and mens clothing are located on opposite sides of the store, with each item sized as it would be in a department store.
The womens shoe department, with its racks of pumps and sandals, and a full length mirror for trying out a new look gets its inspiration from big-name shoe shops.
The childrens section is filled with clothing, toys, baby items and a selection of soccer cleats.
Donations regularly include higher-end name brand items, Dillon said. Coldwater Creek, J. Crew and Ann Taylor are often found on the stores racks.
Clothing that does not sell is passed along to groups that serve the homeless, migrant workers and others in need. Last year, the store matched 210 coats to individual children and handed them out at Moore Square in downtown Raleigh.
King said the seating scattered throughout the store has been especially popular with men who accompany their wives on shopping trips.
Its been suggested that a TV would be nice, he said.
Thrift n Gift, an arm of Seeds of Mustard Ministries, was born out of a desire to establish a Christian charity after the unexpected deaths of Kings teenage son and Dillons mother.
Dillon said she had her mothers clothes in storage and was looking for a home for them when King suggested they open a thrift store.
Their vision has evolved into a community-based ministry. That is the gifting part of Thrift n Gift, King said.
We give the bulk of our profits to like-minded nonprofits who dont have a funding model, he said.
He has plans to establish a resource room at the store to serve children and families in crisis. We would be able to work with them and point them to nonprofits who can meet their needs.
The store depends on volunteers.
Our biggest needs are volunteers, shoppers and donations in that order, King said.
While he appreciates groups that come in for a one-time volunteer effort, King said he is most in need of individuals willing to volunteer two to three hours a week on a regular basis.
We need 50 to 60 volunteers to make this work, he said. Right now we have about 15.