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

Ready or not, college is arriving | Guest article

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

Leaving for college anxiety | Dear YFS

A monthly advice column about issues faced by Islanders.

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.

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.

Dear YFS — How to address ‘lack of kindness’

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

Senior community gets new name, logo

The rebranding connects the community to its faith-based foundation.

Mike Woodsum of the Mountain to Sound Greenway Trust is the featured speaker for the Mercer Island Probus Club July meeting on Thursday, July 11. Courtesy photo
Greenway speaker at July 11 Probus Club meeting

Meeting date has changed for July; location has changed for summer meetings.

Celebrating the Fourth on the Eastside

Americans all over the country including the Eastside region will gather on… Continue reading

This willow tree had recently fallen and was only a stump. Now new life has grown where all hope had seemed lost. Photo by Greg Asimakoupoulos
Lessons from the resurrection tree

Finding hope in times of loss | On Faith

Objects for sale are displayed in sectioned areas throughout the store to make for organized shopping. Photo by Madeline Coats.
Thrift shop brings community together

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

Class of ‘74 celebrating 45th on Aug. 9-11

Events planned throughout the weekend.