Westgate was the place to be Saturday morning, as the newly-relocated Edmonds Senior Center Thrift Store celebrated its grand opening with a healthy dose of food, fashion and fun.
“We had 160 people come through the door in the first hour,” said the senior center’s Michelle Burke. “And we’re already drawing new customers. Several folks who walked in today remarked that they were not aware of our main store in the center itself!”
The new location is 22820 100th Ave. W., Edmonds.
Highlight of the morning was a runway show, featuring some stunning outfits assembled from items available in the store, displayed by models ranging from seniors to high school students.
First down the runway was none other than Senior Center Executive Director Farrell Fleming, a self-described thrift store fashionista, showing off his very together outfit of khakis, tasteful plaid sweater, a rust-colored rain parka from Eddie Bauer and Nordstrom dress shirt, and finished off with a silk tie and jaunty driving cap. Just the outfit for a waterfront stroll on a balmy Edmonds January day.
“I shop here all the time,” he said. “The items are really prime. Most are gently used, and many carry top designer labels. Everything I’m wearing today — except the socks, shoes and underwear –- came from right here. It’s my number-one source for great fashion at great prices.”
With the current Edmonds Senior Center’s demolition date looming, the main store recently closed its doors and moved all inventory to the new space at Westgate. The new Waterfront Center that will replace the current senior center building will include thrift store space, but according to store manager Barb Halseth it won’t be ready any time soon. She figures the store will operate from Westgate for “a good year at least.”
So far, customers are overwhelmingly positive about the new location, which according to Burke offers 30 percent more floor space.
“Everyone is telling me that they like the new spaciousness and the wider selection of items,” remarked Halseth.
One premier service that you won’t find in other thrift shops is a crew of personal shoppers who like nothing better than assisting customers in finding the right sizes, colors and accessories.
“We’re here to help,” said Halseth. “Our items include all the pieces you need to build an entirely new ensemble from top to bottom, and even accessorize with jewelry and purses. And if you have a special item at home that you want to build an outfit around, come on in. I can practically guarantee we’ll have just what you need.”
In addition to clothing (many carrying designer labels), the store offers a wide array of housewares from glasses to flatware to fine china, household décor, and holiday items in season. And with the larger space, some smaller and medium-sized furniture will now be available.
“We don’t deliver, so our rule with furniture is that it must be able to fit in an SUV,” laughed Halseth.
Store hours will initially be the same as in the old location, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. But according to the Senior Center’s Daniel Johnson, hours might be extended to allow the store to be open later in the afternoon and possibly even on Sunday.
“We’re all volunteer staff,” he explained, “so we’ll need to see who can be dependably available.”
Helping with that will be a group of student volunteers from Edmonds-Woodway High School, which has partnered with the senior center to provide real-world retail job experience to students. “It’s a real win-win,” added Johnson.
“And we want all our customers to remember that every dollar they spend here goes to support the senior center and the programs it brings to the community,” said Fleming.
According to Halseth, last year the thrift store netted more than $160,000 for the center. If today’s turnout is any indication, 2019 should be a banner year.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel