Written by Linda Carr
We all know this past year has been challenging in many ways. Loss of income, loss of job stability…it has all taken its toll. One organization, however, has been helping those with limited resources, just as they have for the past 30 years.
The Highland Thrift Shop, located in Grantsville, MD, was founded in 1986 by a group of over 20 Grantsville religious organizations as a place to take donations of unwanted household goods and clothing and offer them for sale at very low prices.
Located in the gymnasium of the old Grantsville Elementary School, the organization has lots of space and offers a little bit of everything. “We are like a department store,” says Regina Holliday, manager of the Thrift Store since 2018. “We have clothing in all sizes for all members of the family. At any given time you’ll find up to 18 racks of gently used clothing.” Other ‘departments’ include housewares, furniture, videos, toys, children’s items, books and more. Prices are kept low so the shop stays busy and turnover remains high.
Highland Thrift Shop is a 501c-3 non-profit supported by donations and volunteers as part of the organization’s overreaching mission to help the disadvantaged in Garrett County. They have a staff of five and over 50 volunteers from various service and religious organizations throughout the area. “We have a range of ages with our volunteers. We have one volunteer in her 90’s and we often have youth groups that work with us as well. It’s a nice mix of community,” explains Regina.
Staff members often include those who need a job but may not have the proper retail training or face other obstacles to employment. Highland Thrift Shop works as a good transitional employer for those entering the work force.
Even though the main focus of the ministry is to help the poor, everyone is welcome here.
Bargain hunters and collectors alike will find wonderful discoveries including vintage clothing, dishware, books and more “We do welcome dealers and resellers,” says Regina. “The goal is to move items in and out of the store. We donate excess proceeds to other area organizations so the more people that shop here, the better off we all are. In 2019, they were able to donate over $24,000 to other charities like Hospice of Garrett County and the Dove Center and were also able to provide direct aid to referred clients.
The Thrift Shop also serves as a food pantry for the area. Stocked by donations, anyone can come in and receive three free items daily. They do accept donations of non-perishable items. Cereals, peanut butter, jelly, canned goods, soups and condiments are very popular items and much in demand.
“One of our goals here is to have a low carbon footprint,” says Regina. “Because of the large amount of donations received each week, we like to turn merchandise over quickly. We send damaged clothing to one of our mission partners who will then recycle them into textiles. We also recycle old books, household goods and more,” she adds. “We try not to throw much away.”
As part of their January ministry, the Highland Thrift Shop offered free coats to those who can’t afford them. Earlier this year local artist Annie Morris Simcoe donated an original art piece which she raffled on her website with proceeds going to the Thrift Shop. In the end, over 100 people bought tickets and donated funds to the cause raising an amazing $6,380.00. Annie was able to purchase 86 new coats, 5 gently used coats and donate almost $1400 in food items to their pantry. Because there are several community programs furnishing coats to children and women, Regina asked Annie to focus on men’s coats, particularly larger sizes. “Many men go without coats in our area. This was a unique opportunity to help out a very underrepresented group in our community,” said Regina.
Garrett County Community Action often gives referrals to The Thrift Shop a $15 voucher when accepting new clients or when local residents are facing an emergency. “Fifteen dollars may not seem like much but on days when we have our bag sales, you can get a ton of clothing in a $5 bag,” says Regina. “It really helps their money stretch.”
Even though everything is already priced low, the shop features both daily and weekly sales. Every Tuesday, customers receive 50% off books, Wednesday is 25% off all regular merchandise, Thursday is 99¢ per clothing item and Friday and Saturday features the popular $5.00 bag sale on clothes. Weekly sales vary month to month but can be found on their Facebook page or blog at https://thehighlandthriftshop.blogspot.com/. Four times a year they have their pillowcase sale, where patrons can fill up a pillowcase (provided or bring your own) with as many items as they can for only $5.00.
The Highland Thrift Shop is located at 116 Main Street in Grantsville and due to Covid-19 remains at limited hours. They are open Wednesday and Friday from 10 AM to 4 PM; Tuesday and Thursday from 10 AM to 6 PM and Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM. They are closed on Sundays and Mondays.
The Highland Thrift Shop accepts all donations with a few exceptions. They cannot accept mattresses, encyclopedias, computers, printers, or television sets. Donations are only accepted Tuesdays and Thursdays and they do ask that you call 301-895-3156 if you plan to drop off larger items so they can have the staff on hand to assist.