Off Center Thrift & Gift in downtown Turlock is not a regular second-hand store. While Off Center does sell gently used clothing and gift items, unlike most other thrift stores, all of the employees are volunteers and all of the profits are donated back to the community.
In the four years the thrift store has been open, $250,500 has been donated to 40 nonprofits in the greater Stanislaus County area.
The idea for the store came about after the closing of the Emanuel Hospital Thrift Shop in 2004. The loss of Emanuel’s thrift store after 45 years of operation left an opening for a second-hand shop in the community, and dozens of volunteers with nowhere to serve.
That’s when 17 concerned and motivated community members— including Sylvia Cox whose grandmother, Rose Smith, along with others, opened the Emanuel Thrift — got together with the former volunteers of the Emanuel shop and decided to open their own nonprofit used clothing and gifts store in 2006.
The thrift store was a success right from the start.
“I was shocked when we started making money right away,” said Cox. “It was a leap of faith when we signed a three-year lease (on the E. Olive Avenue building).
That leap of faith has resulted in numerous organizations benefitting in donations from Off Center. The thrift store has given money to the American Cancer Society, Boy Scouts and the Carnegie Arts Center Foundation, to name a few. They have also supported Christmas food and toy drives in Turlock, Hilmar, Denair, Newman, Patterson and Hughson.
Off Center has thrived thanks to generous donors and local shoppers looking for good deals.
“It’s the right thing to do, to recycle your things,” Cox said. “And with the economic times, we’ve become so popular.”
What started out with 17 women has grown to 90 volunteers and a 10-person Board of Directors. This army of angels sorts through mounds of donated items each week, arranges items in the store and waits on customers.
Carol Silva has been volunteering at Off Center Thrift & Gift for about a year. She works in the store’s men’s department on Thursday afternoons, sorting through donations and making sure the clothing display is in order.
“I enjoy it,” she said. “I think it’s a great cause.”
Off Center offers a variety of gently used casual and formal wear for men, women and children. They also have a selection of accessories and shoes, along with house wares, linens, books, art and knick-knacks.
The store is located at 410 E. Olive and is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. It will be closed from Dec. 17 through Jan. 2, 2011 for the holidays.
Off Center only accepts donations on Fridays and does not take electronics, mattresses or appliances.
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.