A nice surprise: Mount St. Mary’s thrift store is a hidden treasure
April 5, 2018
At the south end of Church Street, tucked away beneath the historic St. Joseph's Cultural Center, lies a little treasure trove. You might not see it if you didn't know it was there, but the Mount Saint Mary's Thrift Store has been in existence off and on for over 75 years.
Store employee Danny Waldrum has been at the store for two and a half years. After retiring from law enforcement, Waldrum realized that the cost of sending his five children to Mt. St. Mary's Academy was going to be a challenge, financially. He works in the thrift store one to two days per week as a way to help offset tuition costs.
Being in the store also gives Waldrum — a history buff — a chance to learn more about the deep history of the building and the ways the store has served the community in the past.
"The nuns used to run it," Waldrum said of the store. "And then in 1966 when the Sisters of Mercy closed down, and the school was set up separately, [the shop] was given to St. Joseph's and it all became non-profit, with proceeds going all to the school. Before then the money went to Sisters of Mercy. It's been here ever since — different locations within the building, but here."
The funds that are raised in the thrift store go directly to Mt. St. Mary's Academy, where they are utilized mostly for books and to help families with tuition costs.
Moreover, the store helps underprivileged and homeless citizens obtain weather appropriate clothing by partnering with St. Patrick's Catholic Church.
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"A lot of people that come in don't have a lot of money so they come in because we're cheaper," said Waldrum. "We have a lot of homeless come in. They'll go over to the church and get a voucher, and then they come over here and they get clothing. It's basically free to them. The church will eventually reimburse the school.
"And if someone comes in and they need something — say the [church] office is closed across the street and they need a coat — we just say 'here.' We'll worry about it somewhere down the line."
According to Waldrum, clothing is the most popular item that the store carries.
"We do $5 bags, and two bags for $5 for kids' clothes," he said. "Spring and summer are the busiest times. People do their spring cleaning. We come in some mornings and you can't even see the door from them dropping stuff off."
To this point, Waldrum noted that the thrift store does ask that donations only be made during store hours.
"If the doors are open, we accept them," he said.
In addition to a large selection of kids' and adults' clothing, the shop carries a wide variety of collectibles and figurines, religious articles, artwork, and small appliances.
Despite signage and word of mouth among the parishioners of St. Patrick's, Waldrum said many are still surprised to discover that the thrift store exists.
"I have people who come in, and they're going upstairs to the museum and then they happen to see us and come in. Or they think this is part of the museum and they come in. Sometimes people who are coming in for a funeral at the church see us and come in," he said.
Waldrum is one of four part-time staffers who work in the shop, where volunteers also help out. In fact, Waldrum said they are always looking for new volunteers to help them organize, arrange, and sell their many goods.
The Mt. St. Mary's Thrift Store is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information call 530-273-2843.
Jennifer Nobles is a freelance writer for The Union and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.