Family Thrift Shop celebrates 50 years
(Left) Mayor Norm Mayer, left, was on hand as Family Thrift Store secretary JoAnne Olsen (second from left) and chairman Jim Law (far right) donated $10,000 each to John Person of the Hospice Society and Blain Fowler of the Battle River Community Foundation in Camrose on Sept. 22. Josh Aldrich/ Camrose Canadian
For half a century Camrose Family Thrift Shop has provided an outlet for people to find affordable clothing for those in need while donating proceeds back to the community.
This past week the store celebrated its 50th birthday and in the process handed out $55,000 to nine local charities in the community.
“It was special this year because of our 50th anniversary,” said Family Thrift Store chairman Jim Law.
The store has humble roots. It started out as a collaborative effort by local churches who were looking to combine their rummage sales into one sale. It didn’t take long for the store to take shape, eventually putting down roots in a brick and mortar store.
“Some of them saw a need for something in Camrose for people bring their items to and sell them and give back to the community,” said LaRue Cullum, who was a board member for 45 years until recently stepping down. “It has come a long way. When it first opened, people didn’t want people to know they shopped at a thrift shop and now it seems like it’s kind of the ‘in’ thing.”
Cullum added that over the years they have seen a wide variety of items come through the doors.
The store is run completely independently by a board of 11 members and has five paid employees, four of them full time. The group relies completely on donations from the public, but all profits are poured back into the community.
Law said they gather as a board and discuss potential recipients regularly.
“We look at who we felt needed it,” he said.
This year they gave $10,000 each to the Hospice Society and the Battle River Community Foundation and $5,000 each to Camrose Open Door Association, Camrose Boys and Girls Club, Neighbor Aid, Camrose Women’s Shelter, Camrose Arts Society, Victims Services, and the Family Violence Action Society.
They have now donated almost $2 million to local charities and groups in the Camrose area.
“Donations equal sales equal donations, and that’s how it works,” said Cullum.
“[It’s surprising] when people stop and think how many pieces of clothing and stuff is handled through here to make that kind of money.”