When is a thrift store not a thrift store?
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When it’s a labor of love on behalf of a grandchild.
Called the Community Browser Thrift Store, Camino residents Candice and Steve Gibson opened their Placerville-based store in January of this year as a way to support certain charities and give back to the community.
Now retired after long careers — Candice was previously a rehabilitation nurse and Steve was a professional musician and executive vice president for a multinational firm — their reason for the store traces back to their 5-year-old granddaughter.
Born with a genetic defect, their special needs grandchild can’t walk or talk and has difficulty eating. “But people are drawn to her because she has such a happy personality,” said the couple. “She has taught us a lot.”
Because of the free assistance their granddaughter has received from certain organizations, the Gibsons are using the proceeds from the thrift store to help support them. One agency, called Pride and Joy, provided occupational therapy. That program is now being run by the county. Another is a program called the Purple Pig that is run by the Elks. It supplied a physical therapist for their granddaughter.
“My goal is to make enough money to support one extra therapist for Purple Pig,” said Candice, which she estimates would be around $40,000 a year.
In addition the couple supports two organizations that work with American troops. One is called Web of Support that provides, among other things, personal packages to members of the military stationed overseas. The Gibsons laughed as they recalled sending several bread making machines to soldiers in Afghanistan. The second organization is Soldiers’ Angels, which sends care packages to soldiers and helps military families in need.
“We haven’t taken one penny out of the store,” said Candice. “Everything goes to our charities.”
It was Steve who coined the term “thrift-tique” to describe their store because it is a combination thrift and antique store.
“We focus on gift items, collectibles and quality furniture,” said Candice. “We have a lot of bargains but good bargains. It’s quality rather than quantity.”
The Gibsons said they buy most of their items but also receive donations of clothes, hats, shoes, and purses. “We’re very blessed that way,” Candice said.
The store offers an eclectic mix of merchandise for sale including such things as an antique couch and side chair covered in brocade along with a carved cherry wood coffee table and Clouds Folsom vases. They also sell glassware collections, cut glass, milk glass, metal boxes of all sizes, water colors and prints by artist Maude Kaufman Eggemeyer, hand-woven wall hangings from Columbia, antique metal beds, a guitar-shaped clock outlined in neon, and lots of clothing.
“People come and think it’s an experience,” said Candice. “They walk around looking at every single thing. Sometimes they are here for two hours.”
One of those back for a third time was Carrie Simpson of Placerville.
“I come because they have lots of unique and beautiful glassware,” Simpson said. “I love to collect glassware. Cordial glasses are my thing. I like to sip with my girlfriends. Their displays also make it more than just looking at things on shelves.”
Another regular is Pat Navarro of Placerville. A self-described collector of anything western, she said, “You never know what you’re going to find.” She likes that the store is so neat and clean and that the owners are sharing their money with disabled kids and the troops.
“Placerville is such a great place for people to get care,” she said. “There are lots of resources.”
Storytelling also seems to be part of the charm of the store. When people first enter, the Gibsons offer them a copy of their mission statement, which describes their support for the troops and special needs children. That then leads them to tell the story of their granddaughter as well as the stories behind many of the items for sale such as the beautiful black lacquer box behind the counter. Inlaid with mother of pearl, it was created by a mother as a wedding gift for her daughter.
Those stories in turn generate stories from the customers.
“We have so many unique and supportive people who come through the door and all have unique stories,” said Candice. “That’s what we enjoy so much about this store. People tell us about their children with special needs, or about being in the military, or of their adventures.”
“She has enough material to write a book,” added Steve, who described one story by an Army Ranger who said he had found a sacred Native American tree in the Rubicon area.
For those who want to visit the Community Browser Thrift Store, it is located at 175 Placerville Drive in Placerville. Days and hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, Saturday and Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The phone number is 530-621-2411.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.