Monday, April 16, 2012

The Super Special Thrift Store Tour: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Impact! **************PART 2**************

It's almost here! It's almost here!

Welcome back to the exciting conclusion of The Let’s Go Thrifting Super Special Thrift Store Tour of Impact, the mega thrift store opening on Saturday April 21st. In my last blog post I shared with you the philanthropic mission and community focus of Impact Thrift, Inc. And with the new location to open this Saturday in Feasterville, PA that mission will be greatly expanded. 

In speaking with Jill Tarabar, Assistant Director of Business Development, I learned something of the Impact business strategy: The Impact Board of Directors aims to open a new location every two years, a plan only made possible by generous donations and sound fiscal planning. And obviously, that planning has come to pass with the new Feasterville location. "There has been a significant increase in sales at Impact over the years, with the Montgomeryville location averaging an estimated 2500 transactions per week. We attribute our sales to the struggling economy and an increased media coverage, which lessens some of the stigma of thrift shopping," Jill explained. 

A Rainbow of Furniture

And on the topic of the thrift stigma, I had to note that the hipster anti-trend trend in shopping secondhand has likely loaned a bit of spotlight on thrifting for style and hunting down cheap furniture for the apartment. But with thrift stores becoming something of the modern hipsters' stomping ground, I just had to ask:

Q: Jill, what are your thoughts on thrifting for leisure as opposed to thrift shopping out of financial necessity? 

A: Should thrift shopping be for the underprivileged? I’m not really sure how to answer this question. There is talk in the Impact community sometimes that thrift shopping should solely benefit the poor. But philanthropically, thrift shopping is benefiting those in need through the revenue we earn. Buying that toaster from the thrift store, instead of paying full price for one elsewhere isn't depriving anyone, really. It's just smart. It's ecological. These items of the past were well constructed and still have some life in them. 

The lovely display case for the silent auctions.

And given my obsession with quirky finds at low prices, Jill’s thoughtful response gave pause to any hesitation I may have had in previous trips to the thrift store. 

We even talked a bit about my beliefs in thrift karma--how there are trips when fate, it seems, can be bent ever so slightly in our favor.  And my crazy theory must resonate in some small way as Jill was sure to note, “We do have a large demographic of shoppers that donate to Impact. I think they see it as an opportunity to give back, so it’s guilt-free shopping.” 

Community Outreach Coordinator Tamika Miller soon joined our conversation and admittedly has purchased a fair share of thrifted finds, especially back in her early days with Impact when she started as just a shopper hoping to join the company. “In a thrift store, everyone is looking for something...even the staff," Tamika said. "And the funny thing is that we process so many donations that whichever strange something that a staff member wants will likely end up on the shelf by the end of the day. When we're wishing for something obscure, we call it putting it out there in the Impact universe."

And this theory makes sense to me. So much in fact, that on opening day this Saturday I’m hoping that following all my interviews, photos and networking I will, by some magical workings of the thrift gods, discover the most amazing, indescribably perfect thrift find ever. It could happen. Especially since Tamika was sure to mention that the lines of furniture, pallets of books, mountains of clothing and rows of bric-a-brac is all just a mere 30% of the donations stockpiled in the Impact warehouse, waiting to be processed and priced. 

No, not just bookshelves. This is the Aisle of Knowledge.

With the Feasterville Impact being the size of an average supermarket, I’m likely to find something awesome. I just have to remember that I’m there as a professional blogger, so bickering with the elderly women over who has dibs on the costume jewelry or fighting the children for first pick of the toys would be...somewhat uncouth. 
But I guess a secondhand shopping venue of this size can be enough to make even the most timid of shoppers ravenous over the possibilities. Even Paul Baur, President and CEO of Impact Thrift Stores, Inc. is astonished by what something like this means for the company:

“We never envisioned something like this. Our first Impact Thrift in Hatboro opened in 2001 and was about 12,000 feet. This location is 66,000 square feet with 42,000 square feet of retail space. Customers will just be blown away with our huge selection.” Paul Baur, President and CEO Impact Thrift Stores, Inc.

Bric a far as the eye can see. 

With all of this space and inventory from donations at an all-time high, I just had to ask the processing crew about some of the items that have crossed their path. Sure there are bundles of yarn and craft supplies for Jill Tarabar and designer clothes being sorted for the Impact boutique section, but what I had to ask the staff is this:

What is the strangest donation ever encountered at Impact? 

Tamika Miller, who worked her way up from the retail end of the business, recalled spotting a preserved baby shark in a jar. The women of the bric-a-brac department excitedly chattered over the many, many bizarre...and at times inappropriate donations they've processed over the years. As for the inappropriate bric-a-brac? Not wanting to cause any embarrassment, I’ll just keep it discreet and say that there are some things best kept in the bedroom and out of the donation bins.

Better get in line now.  Here's where the registers will be.

So who knows what will turn up on the shelves of Impact? What we do know is this: It all starts on Saturday. That's right...the largest thrift store in the Philadelphia area and beyond is soon to open in just a few days.

So here's the info:

What: The Impact Thrift Store Grand Opening
Where: The Bucks Crossing Shopping Center on Street Rd and Bustleton Pike in Feasterville, PA.
When: Saturday, April 21st. 10 am - 1 pm. ( The store is open 'til 6 pm).

The ribbon cutting ceremony starts at 10 am and the first 100 shoppers will be getting a free surprise gift. There will be refreshments, door prizes, great discounts and a thrifty runway show of hot trends at dirt cheap prices at 1 pm. 

And as Jill Tarabar has promised to you eager thrifters: "This Impact is a mega-thrift store. When shoppers come here they're not going to see just a thrift store. They are going to see a department store. We're clean, organized and professionally-staffed with people passionate about what they are doing." 

I personally CAN'T WAIT! And I hope to see some of you there for a real life blogging meet 'n' greet and an adventurous hunt in what will undoubtedly be the best and the biggest thrift store in Pennsylvania.


Special thanks to Jill Tarabar, Paul Baur, Tamika Miller and the friendly and diligent staff of Impact Thrift for making time for me during such a busy schedule. I look forward to a successful grand opening and a continued patronage...with tons of fun thrifted finds in my future.  

No comments: