Thrift store offers bargains to the community
DILLON – Ruth Infante browses through racks of pants at Summit Thrift & Treasure in Dillon. She’s already found two warm hats, which she’ll need next winter, her first in Summit County. Infante moved here one month ago from Guadalajara, Mexico. She doesn’t own many warm clothes, and, like many newcomers in need of an inexpensive winter wardrobe, she comes to the thrift store to shop.A little money goes a long way at the thrift store. Those short on cash can also work in exchange for credit in the store. One hour of work earns $3 in store credit.”Some people only own the clothes they’re wearing when they come in,” said Gerardo Castillo Velazquez, a community advocate at the Family and Intercultural Resource Center (IRC), the organization that owns and operates the thrift store.Shoppers who are new to the U.S. often leave Summit Thrift & Treasure with more than just their purchases. The store is attached to IRC’s offices, where immigrants can meet with advocates and access a number of resources the center offers.”Lots of times, people need info about medical, dental, and immigration services,” Velazquez said. “They move here and don’t necessarily understand how the system works. We provide them with that information.”Proceeds from the thrift store benefit IRC’s programs, including translation services, the Warm Welcome program for new mothers, family-strengthening classes, mental health care and advocacy for victims of sexual assault.Truly a multicultural center, the thrift store attracts people from Latin America, Russia, Africa, as well as the United States.Katia Herrera began volunteering at the thrift store when she first moved to Dillon from outside of Pueblo, Mexico seven months ago. She left her housekeeping job in Breckenridge shortly after, when the store manager offered her a job.”I’ve made a lot of friends working here, not just Latinos, but Americans too,” Herrera said. “And it was a cheap and easy way to get clothes when I first moved here.”Employees such as Herrera, as well a steady group of volunteers, stay busy sorting through new donations, which must be priced and put on the sales floor daily since the store has no space for storage. In the spring, the busiest donation season, 30 to 40 bags of clothes come in each day.To move merchandise quickly and keep it cheap, 75 percent of all the items are priced at less than $1.99. Proceeds average $700 a day, said manager Megan Turner.The thrift store accepts clothes, shoes, books, housewares and working small appliances. It does not accept ski equipment, bicycles, recyclables, metal hangers, large appliances, mattresses, large lamps, exercise equipment or broken items.Those bringing donations are asked to respect the donation hours of 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Items left in the parking lot outside of these hours could result in the store being fined.
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