This year marks the 35th anniversary for the Eastside Community Aid Thrift Shop, which was officially formed on Nov. 19, 1981 with a location in Redmond. The store moved four more times, finally settling in its current Kirkland location..
The nonprofit store in the Totem Lake neighborhood was started when a group of 14 neighbors in Bellevue decided to hold a garage sale.
“The sale went so well that they decided to donate the money to some local charities,” said Jody Orbits, shop president. “The charities were grateful, so grateful that the neighbors decided they were on to something.”
The nonprofit currently has 48 all-volunteer staff members who sort new and used donations, price them and put them on display at the shop. After paying the rent and bills, the surplus money is then donated back to the Eastside community through nonprofit organizations, and three Lake Washington Technical College student scholarships.
The list of nonprofit organizations that have benefited from the shop’s monetary and physical donations is long. The shop has given money to 80 different organizations, such as the domestic violence organization Assistance League of the Eastside, Helping Hands for the Disabled, Hopelink, the Humane Society, Evergreen Hospice, Eastside Medic Response Units, Sibling House, King County Search and Rescue, Eastside Baby Corner and Compassionate Friends.
In February, the shop also reached the milestone of giving more than $1.55 million in cash back into the Eastside community.
The shop is not affiliated with any church, service club, school or any other organization.
“It’s something all its own; a group of volunteers – anyone can join – who simply want to help make our Eastside community a better place to live,” Orbits said. “Anyone can join. The volunteers put the best items on display at the shop. The less-than best is passed on to other organizations that can use the items. Nothing goes to waste. Colored tags are put on each item. That way donations are rotated through the shop on a three-month cycle. Thus, the shop is one of the more upscale thrift shops on the Eastside.”
The organization also gives back directly. Domestic violence victims who are being helped by local organizations can come in to the store and each member of the family receives three complete outfits along with housewares, and additional supplies if needed.
Many items are donated to other nonprofit organizations, such as eye glasses donated to the Lions Club, cell phones go to domestic violence clients and clothes and shoes are passed on to clothing banks.
The shop is also a green business, recycling everything possible.
The shop is located in the Totem Lake West Shopping Plaza at 12451 116th Ave. N.E.
Store hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and open until 6 p.m. on Fridays.
Clean, saleable donations can be dropped off during business hours.
For more information on donations, call (425) 825-1877.