Blue bins at the side of the thrift side collect donations throughout the day before being sent over to Seattle Goodwill. Photo by Madeline Coats.

Blue bins at the side of the thrift side collect donations throughout the day before being sent over to Seattle Goodwill. Photo by Madeline Coats.

Thrift shop brings community together

Second-hand shop projected to bring in 2.9 million dollars this year alone.

An organization that began in 1975 as a volunteer-run garage sale now thrives as a revenue-generating business, using more than 50 percent of profits to fund Mercer Island Youth and Family Services (MIYFS).

The Mercer Island Thrift Shop graduated to a larger space in the 1980s, moving into the old community swim club facility. Still, the business remains settled right off Mercerdale Park.

Throughout each day, local citizens drop off enough donations to fill multiple large blue bins. Once the items are sorted, leftover objects and clothing are then donated to Seattle Goodwill.

Business coordinator Suzanne Philen joined the staff in 2000, just after major renovations were made to the building. Rather than rooms full of randomly placed racks, the group aims to embody a boutique store, she explained.

The thrift shop used to be open four days per week and shoppers would wait in line outside to get the first pick of the new donations. Now, the store is open every day of the week. The shop is projected to make $2.9 million just this year alone, Philen said.

“This has a lot of moving parts,” Philen said. Currently, the personnel is comprised of 50 volunteers and 12 full-time staff members.

According to Philen, the establishment is sensitive to the needs of the workforce. People with disabilities can have sitting-only jobs and others can be given minimal effort tasks, such as placing price tags on donations.

“We’ve been a great place for people new to the community,” Philen said. The thrift shop hires English-as-a-second-language residents in order to help them learn and grow within the community.

The thrift shop has volunteer opportunities to gain job experience or fulfill work-study programs and court-ordered community service.

The proceeds for MIYFS help support various forms of aid for children and adults. Services include counseling, substance abuse programs, emergency food assistance, juvenile court diversion, family assistance and career guidance.

“We help place mental health counselors in schools,” Philen said. The organization focuses on confidential services to provide safety and security. The partnership between the thrift stop and MIYFS has been beneficial for young adults who are building resume experience and ultimately hope to find jobs.

Additional clothing items are toys are displayed outside the thrift shop to use more space. Photo by Madeline Coats.

Additional clothing items are toys are displayed outside the thrift shop to use more space. Photo by Madeline Coats.

More in Life

Friendship Circles to host their 8th annual Walk, Run, and Community Day

The event will take place on Sept. 22 at Luther Burbank Park.

Libraries are welcoming spaces for everyone | Book Nook

A monthly column from the King County Library System.

Photo by Nityia Photography
                                Dora Gyarmati.
Redefine goals based on virtues to find joy | Health column

A monthly column about mindfulness and wellbeing.

Photo courtesy of Greg Asimakoupoulos
                                Chaplain Greg Asimakoupoulos uses blackberry picking as lessons for life.
Parables of life learned through blackberry picking | On Faith

A monthly column by Greg Asimakoupoulos dealing in matters of faith.

Donna Colosky is superintendent of the Mercer Island School District.
Welcoming students to a new school year

A guest column from Mercer Island School District Superintendent Donna Colosky.

SeaJAM, which kicks off the SJCC Arts + Ideas 2019–2020 season, will present “An Evening with Debra Messing” on Saturday, September 14, at Benaroya Hall’s Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall. Courtesy photo
SJCC prepares for second annual SeaJAM

SeaJAM will present “An evening with Debra Messing” on Sept. 14.

Photo courtesy of Greg Asimakoupoulos
                                A plaque commemorating the date the Asimakoupoulos family changed its name.
A summer to remember | On Faith

A monthly column dealing in faith.

Ready or not, college is arriving | Guest article

How parents can help their students embark on a college career.

Stephanie Quiroz/staff photos
                                Covenant Living at the Shores residents and staff with Ageless Aviation pilot and team at the Renton Municipal Airport on Aug. 12.
Covenant Living at the Shores Residents take flight

Tom Norris, Sid Boegl, Doug Wilkinson, and Jack Nelson take flight in a 1942 Boeing Stearman.

Leaving for college anxiety | Dear YFS

A monthly advice column about issues faced by Islanders.

Author Claire Gebben gives blacksmithing a go at Bruce Weakly’s private shop on Whidbey Island. Gebben sought to learn the art of blacksmithing to better understand the life of her great-great grandfather, who immigrated to Cleveland in the mid-1800s. Photo courtesy of Claire Gebben
Island author Gebben’s work named Indie Book Awards finalist

“How We Survive Here: Families Across Time” reveals genealogical journey.

Advice for addressing marijuana use in college students | Dear YFS

Dear YFS is an advice column with reader submitted or posed questions from the Island.