Tacoma thrift store helps the homeless and accepts clothing donations
Tacoma Rescue Mission receives an overwhelming amount of donations to help lift its clients out of poverty.
The non-profit homeless shelter has found a solution to maximize all donated clothing and household items: a thrift store. Mission savings, 2502 6th Ave., opened last month. The store is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Darrin Miller, Social Enterprise Director, said Tacoma Rescue Mission use no more than 3% of donated items. The thrift store will allow the rescue mission “to make the most of the donations we receive and be able to generate revenue and come back to our customers and those in need in the community,” he said.
Mission Thrift sells clothing for men, women and children, including sports jerseys, toys and games, shoes, handbags, home decor, kitchen appliances and tableware, lamps, furniture and more. Customers may stumble upon rare finds, such as a Star Wars spatula.
Clothing at Mission Thrift starts at $1.99 for t-shirts, jeans are $8-20, and North Face jackets are $49.99. Cookware and small plates are priced at 99 cents, and entrees are $1.99 to $4.99. Airfryers range from $9.99 to $29.99 and KitchenAid Stand Mixers range from $59 to $99. Toys and games are 99 cents down to $9.99. A sectional sofa costs around $119, a recliner is $55 to $99, and a high chair is $19.99.
Tacoma Rescue Mission provides emergency services, such as overnight homeless shelters, approximately 800 meals a day, and supplies to homeless encampments. The mission also has an in-house 12-month recovery program, New Life Recovery, and a career development program to help its clients connect to jobs.
Erica Nelson, Retail Manager at Mission Thrift, is a 2017 graduate of the New Life program. Before going into recovery, her life was as bad as you could imagine, she said.
“It’s a radically different life than it was six years ago,” Nelson said. “Six years ago, I was on the street. I took methamphetamine, sometimes heroin with it. I was a mess.
She said working for the Tacoma Rescue Mission is a blessing.
“The mission has helped me more than anyone could have ever helped me, so of course I want to do my best to help them back,” Nelson said.
Nelson said that while working at the Mission’s donation center after graduating from the New Life program, she was sometimes overwhelmed by the number of donations she received.
Miller said the generous neighbors, businesses and organizations that donate their gently used items are the most important people in the Mission Thrift process.
The Tacoma Rescue Mission accepts donations at Mission Thrift, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, and at Holy Rosary Donation Center504 S. 30th St., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Miller said the rescue mission will accept donations of clothing, household items, small appliances, shoes, handbags, sports equipment and furniture, except mattresses or beds. and porcelain hutches or large cabinets. They will not accept items with animal stains or that are damaged.
“The kind of question we ask is if you wouldn’t mind putting it in your house, then we take it, but if it’s too damaged to be in your house, it’s probably not usable for us,” he said.
Tacoma Rescue Mission customers always receive the first choice of donations. When clients arrive at emergency shelters after being homeless, they can choose clothes from the rescue mission closets. Customers also receive Mission Thrift gift cards for shopping, telling if they have a job interview coming up.
When setting up Mission Thrift, Nelson researched other thrift shop setups. Nelson said she wanted Mission Thrift to be easy to shop for and to be a nice, clean, and organized store.
“I want this to succeed and I want to make the most of it for the Tacoma rescue mission because it’s expensive to help so many people,” she said.
Miller said the mission always needs volunteers. Mission Thrift has paid employees, but they rely on volunteers to help process donations and work the thrift store. Volunteers are also needed at Tacoma Rescue Mission, from helping prepare meals to pulling weeds and everything in between, Miller said. To volunteer, visit trm.org/volunteer.