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Money well spent: local thrift stores help a variety of programs.

Like to shop? Like bargains? Like to help those in need? Well, buying at thrift stores allows you to get the best deals while helping the elderly, disabled, sick, young or poor.


Southside Bargain Bin, located at 11700 Old Seward Highway, a new upscale thrift store, offers Anchorage residents an opportunity for donations and thrift store prices.

Don and Donna J. Deschaine started their business because they saw a need to help the elderly and disabled.

"If I see a wheelchair, I pick it up and pass it along," she says, "or walkers, commodes, and bath benches. We are trying to do what we can."

Donna has advertised her nonprofit business through care coordinators, Alzheimer's program, and the Anchorage Senior Center.

The business opened mid-January and already the Deschaines have been able to meet their expenses.

Also, in just four to five weeks of starting the business, Donna realized the shop, with its 1,200 square feet, was too small. Donna chose the location for its visibility, but now needs extra space to accommodate all the items she is collecting.

The Deschaines have had an assisted living home for 10 years. Don worked with the youth corps for many years, but is now retired.

The Deschaines have received a number of compliments on their business already and have a following.


Partnering with charities is how Value Village does business.

Since its 1954 inception, the company stores have contributed $1 billion to charities, says district store manager Michael T. Blomquist.

Working with more than 120 nonprofit partners in the U.S., Canada and Australia, charity organizations include the Diabetes Foundation in Seattle, the Northwest Center for the Retarded, Dyslin Boys Ranch, Big Brothers of King County, Community Services for the Blind & Partially Sighted, and The Arc of Kitsap County.

The Dimond Boulevard store is affiliated with Big Brothers, Big Sisters, says Blomquist. The store on Boniface Parkway maintains a contract with the Arc of Anchorage. The Fairbanks Resource Agency is the charity for the store in Fairbanks.

Value Village adheres to its logo: recycle, reuse and resale.

"If items don't sell, we recycle them," says Blomquist. More than 220 million pounds have been recycled storewide. Six million pounds of goods are recycled every year from the three stores in Alaska.

The company owns a recycling business out of Seattle that ships goods to Africa and developing countries where items are sold or given to charities. Bales of clothes may be shipped as far as Russia or Asia. Books often go to India for children to learn to speak English.

Blomquist, who has been with the company 25 years, has seen the company grow from a mom-and-pop store to a strong corporation now based out of Bellevue, Wash.

The employees at the stores have medical and dental benefits, and a 401K program, as well as comparable wages.

Value Village stores have a huge customer base. Some customers shop everyday. Some are collectors, some own shops. Some customers called pickers have been able to buy Levi's 501 jeans and resell them for $500 to $1,000 a pair.

Carl Jerue, store manager of the Boniface Value Village, says one time a diamond ring sold for $1,200, but was valued at $2,100.

A $4.99 Chinese vase a woman bought was later appraised at $35,000.

Alaska has the most in furniture sales compared to other stores in the country. It is also in the top 10 in the country on the basis of sales.

Value Village, a Fortune 500 company, is busy opening 12 to 15 stores a year. (If you are looking for a store in Canada, look for Village des Valeurs.)

The local store celebrated its 20th anniversary May 1.


Salvation Army first came to Southeast Alaska in 1898 with the gold rush. The first store in Anchorage was established in the 1950s.

Now, the Salvation Army has five stores in Anchorage, Eagle River and Wasilla, which benefit the Salvation Army adult rehabilitation program for men with substance abuse problems. The program provides housing, counseling, life skills spiritual development and work therapy. The program is supported from sales of the local Salvation Army thrift stores, says Jenny Ragland, public relations director.

The current six- to nine-month residential treatment program helps men on the road to recovery. Last year 156 men participated in the program.

Recently services have expanded to include housing and counseling for veterans who can stay up to two years.

The thrift stores and warehouse employ 63 people, while volunteers such as the Salvation Army women's auxiliary help to keep the costs low.

Other Salvation Army Thrift stores are located in Cordova, Fairbanks, Haines, Homer, Juneau, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Petersburg, Sitka, Soldotna, and Wrangell. Besides the U.S., the Salvation Army has programs in 114 countries.

For more information on the Adult Rehabilitation Program, visit its Web site at


Bishop's Attic started in Anchorage in 1971 with 13 ladies forming a nonprofit corporation.

Proceeds from the store go directly to the Archdiocese of Anchorage. From there the funds go to a number of different ministries such as Brother Francis Shelter, Clare House, McAuley Manor House for teenage girls, and the Charlie Elder House for boys, all under the umbrella of Catholic Social Services.

Bishop's Attic also provides clothing and furniture for those in need through vouchers from Catholic Social Services.

Beverly Walsh, the current business manager, says the board of directors for Bishop's Attic meets once a month to take care of policies and oversee the employees. Ten employees, a manager and volunteers run the store.

"It's a fun project. It's been a successful venture. We don't even need to solicit," says Walsh.

Other parishes now have second-hand stores, too. Saintly Seconds is affiliated with St. Andrew's, Seconds to Go with St. Patrick's, Rummage Room with St. Benedict's, and One More Time with Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The Catholic Social Services Web page boasts of 40 years of compassionate service from 1966 to 2006.
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Comment:Money well spent: local thrift stores help a variety of programs.
Author:Morgan, Barbara
Publication:Alaska Business Monthly
Geographic Code:1U9AK
Date:Jun 1, 2007
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