Behind the Scenes at CRC’s Resale Stores
May 17, 2017
Written by: Guest contributor, Lisa Shaffer
Lisa Shaffer and her husband, Steve Bartram, are long-time CRC supporters. Lisa served on the Encinitas City Council from 2012-2016.
I often take clothing and household items I no longer need to the CRC Thrift Shop. And sometimes I wonder what actually happens with that jacket after I leave it at the back door and get my tax receipt? I visited all three of the CRC shops and now I know! I also know where I’m going shopping the next time I want to find a book or game, or just the right kitchen gadget. These shops manifest the circular, sustainable society we all yearn for. Materials come in, they are redistributed and put back to use; people who are in need are served, supported by the people who have the ability to buy. Individuals who need a place to work find employment or volunteer hours, helping themselves and contributing to the program, some of them former domestic violence survivors who were served as clients in the past.
Community Resource Center operates three thrift shops (now called Resale Stores) – Encinitas, Carlsbad, and San Marcos. Each operates pretty much the same way, with Encinitas serving as the hub of the enterprise. Donations are gratefully received. Items are examined and sorted by size, brand, color, and condition. Using different color price tags, the staff monitors how long an item has been on the rack and after three weeks, it goes on sale or is passed on to CRC partners, United Cerebral Palsy and Disabled American Vets. The Encinitas store puts aside certain items like sleeping bags, t-shirts, and hats for a homeless program and donates items to the Showers of Blessing. And some donated items aren’t acceptable and unfortunately must go into the dumpster.
The staff in all three stores were delightful. When asked how readers can help make the program more successful, Sonia and Manuel in Carlsbad just said they were so grateful for all the donations and support they receive. Rosalva and Hilda in San Marcos agreed and added that more volunteers would be great – they often have people working only for a short period of time to meet a community service requirement, and would love to have long-term volunteers who can learn the ropes and be there consistently.
Robert, who manages the three Resale Stores, proudly told me that Karen, the Encinitas store manager was a former CRC participant many years ago and began working there as a volunteer, bringing her kids with her because she couldn’t afford day care. The volunteer workforce includes students needing service credits, people earning community service hours through the justice system, developmentally disabled workers in supervised programs, and other community members. Participants in the domestic violence program are given vouchers based on family size and need so they can shop for clothing and household items. The program operates like a benevolent family network, with everyone taking care of each other and looking for ways to maximize the benefits for the community.
NOTE TO DONORS: there is a list of what the CRC shops will and won’t accept. If you bring something that can’t be used, you are adding a burden to the organization, as CRC has to pay for trash hauling. So be mindful and don’t bring chipped or damaged goods. Thank you.
I visited each shop and saw a constant stream of people dropping off clothing and other items. In Carlsbad a woman brought a beautiful flower girl dress that had been worn once and was in perfect condition and said she hoped someone else could use it. There was so much wonderful merchandise in each store, it’s an eco-conscious shopper’s paradise. Whether you want furniture, designer shoes, board games, books, or wine glasses, you can find it in these shops. The stores embody the values of socially conscious business – they operate efficiently and with the intent to earn as much money as possible, but they do it in a way that reinvests in the community, has flexible rules that allow people in need to take a bit more than they can afford, and makes everyone feel valued.