Tacoma Rescue Mission receives an overwhelming amount of donations to help its clients out of poverty.
The homeless shelter nonprofit came up with a solution to maximize all of the donated clothes and household items: a thrift shop. Mission Thrift, 2502 6th Ave., opened last month. The store is open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 9 a.m.- 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.
Darrin Miller, social enterprise director, said Tacoma Rescue Mission uses at most 3 percent of items donated. The thrift shop will allow the rescue mission “to make the most of donations that we receive and be able to generate revenue and go back to our clients and those in need in the community,” he said.
Mission Thrift sells men’s, women’s and children’s clothes, including sports jerseys, toys and games, shoes, purses, home decor, kitchen appliances and dishes, lamps, furniture and more. Customers can come across rare finds, like 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. Kitchen utensils and small plates are priced at 99 cents, and dishes are $1.99-$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 to $9.99. A sectional couch is about $119, a recliner is $55-$99 and a high chair is $19.99.
Tacoma Rescue Mission provides emergency services, such as overnight homeless shelters, about 800 meals a day and supplies to homeless encampments. The mission also has a 12-month in-house recovery program, New Life Recovery, and a career development program to help its clients get connected to jobs.
Mission Thrift retail manager Erica Nelson is a 2017 graduate of the New Life program. Before she entered into recovery, her life was as bad as you could imagine, she said.
“It’s a drastically different life than six years ago,” Nelson said. “Six years ago, I was on the streets. I was shooting up meth, 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 anybody could have ever helped me, so of course I want to do my best to help them in return,” Nelson said.
Nelson said when she was working at the Mission’s donation center after she graduated from the New Life program, she was sometimes overwhelmed by the amount of donations that came in.
Miller said generous neighbors, businesses and organizations that donate their gently used items are the most important people in Mission Thrift’s process.
The Tacoma Rescue Mission accepts donations at Mission Thrift, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, and at Holy Rosary Donation Center, 504 S. 30th St., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
Miller said the rescue mission will accept donations of clothes, housewares, small appliances, shoes, purses, sports equipment and furniture items, except for mattresses or beds and china hutches or large cabinets. They won’t accept items with pet stains or that are damaged.
“The kind of question we ask is if you wouldn’t mind putting it in your home, then we take it, but if it’s too damaged to be in your home, it’s probably not usable for us,” he said.
The Tacoma Rescue Mission clients still get the first pick of donations. As clients come into the emergency shelters from homelessness, they can pick out clothes from the rescue mission’s closets. The clients also receive gift cards to Mission Thrift to shop for themselves, say if they have a job interview coming up.
When setting up Mission Thrift, Nelson researched other thrift store setups. Nelson said she wanted Mission Thrift to be easy to shop at and to be a nice, clean and organized store.
“I want this to succeed and I want to make the most of this for the Tacoma Rescue Mission, because it costs a lot to help so many people,” she said.
Miller said the mission is always in need of volunteers. Mission Thrift has paid employees, but they rely on volunteers to help process donations and work at 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.
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