Leslie Schupp, of Patagonia, shows off the new jacket she bought at the PUMC Thrift Shop. Photo by Marion Vendituoli

When people are on their way to the Thrift Shop owned by the Patagonia Community United Methodist Church, they often smile and describe a recent item they found that was a surprise, or a treasure.

Some regular shoppers describe their experience at The Thrift Shop as entertainment—even a “community event.” People are often laughing. Occasionally someone finds something unusual, and, wondering what it is, asks other shoppers, ‘What is this?’ Then they all try to guess. One woman didn’t find what she wanted, but bought an item anyway, saying that she enjoyed the show. Or sometimes an interesting story is told – but watch what you say, I was warned – there might a curious head peeking out from behind the next rack!

Bonnie Quirin, The Thrift Shop’s acting supervisor and historian, wrote “The Shop is a gathering ground on Fridays and Saturdays. People are friendly and find it is a great place to network, see locals you don’t always get to see, and the visitors learn a lot about the town and surrounding areas from the volunteers and shoppers.”

The Thrift Shop offers quality clothing, both used and new at affordable prices, including designer clothes with well-known labels, clothing from previous eras, specialty items such as crafted Italian leather shoes, or a unique costume. When individuals or families move, they donate many household items, such as small appliances, pots and pans, kitchen utensils, sheets and towels, exercise equipment, even antiques.

The shop is staffed completely by volunteers and all the items are donations. It is open from 10—2 on Fridays and Saturdays. To keep buyers coming to the shop, new items are often displayed and there are special sales. At the Brown Bag sale, for example, shoppers can fill a bag with clothing for $3.00. But the largest sales for the Thrift Shop come during the Fall Festival. Proceeds from all sales go toward the church’s expenses, and the projects and service organizations it supports.

Bonnie described the Thrift Shop as the brainchild of Ann and Avery Dudley, who believed that the town needed a place to purchase low cost, used items. It began 35 years ago in the home of Hilda Blabon, which was purchased by the Patagonia Community Church and replaced by the present building in 1990, with improvements and an expansion in later years.

There are some challenges for the PCUMC Thrift Shop. The greatest is getting enough volunteers on Thursday mornings when the contributions are sorted, priced and set out for sale. The weekly amount of contributions can be overwhelming for a small number of volunteers. People are encouraged to drop off contributions during the sorting on Thursdays and during hours that the Shop is open on Fridays and Saturdays—and to volunteer!