There’s a 10-year-old secret that holiday shoppers are happy to reveal: For the best bargains around, shop at Snowline Hospice’s six thrift stores, and not only stuff your stockings with great deals but do a great deal for the local community.
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Snowline Hospice workers and volunteers have been gathering goodies like jewelry and antiques, waiting to uncover the treasures during Snowline’s 10th annual Holiday Spectacular, which will welcome customers Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 8, 9 and 10 with stores brimming with bargains but also offering a “thank you” to the local community for its support of the thrift stores.
“Our community and loyal customers anticipate this event each year and many of them specifically donate holiday items just for this event,” said Ravel Buckley, 50, director of retail operations for Snowline Hospice. “There will be lots of Christmas inventory that we’re putting out in all six stores, items we’ve stored and saved just for this event.”
Because it’s the 10th anniversary of Snowline’s Holiday Spectacular, there will be food and entertainment for shoppers during the three days, with Santa visiting some of the stores, as his schedule allows. At the Cameron Park store in Burke Junction, the popular train will be running there as well.
Buckley said local residents are very generous all year long in making donations to the organization, which provides aid and assistance to those at the end of life’s journey, along with grief counseling and assistance to families dealing with the loss of loved ones.
“We depend on their donations to support Snowline and the public is always so generous,” said Buckley as she reflected on some of the more remarkable or unusual donations over the years.
“We’ve gotten diamond wedding rings (illustrating the generosity of donors) and one of the most unusual donations was a calliope that was donated by a man from Georgetown,” she said. “We have all kinds of musical instruments for holiday shoppers, including guitars.”
Showing both generosity and a bent for the unusual, just this week Snowline received a Harley-Davidson motorcycle from a man whose family had been helped by the organization that has served El Dorado County for more than 30 years.
For 25 of those years, the thrift stores have been Snowline’s flagship. The first thrift store was located on Placerville Drive, although that shop no longer exists after having burned to the ground years ago.
The Holiday Spectacular is the largest fund-raiser for the year for Snowline Hospice, according to Buckley, and will be celebrated at all six thrift store locations: Placerville Drive (530-621-1802), El Dorado Road just off Highway 50 (530-622-1710), Carson Road in Camino (530-647-2703), Coach Lane in Cameron Park (530-676-8708), Cameron Park Drive in Cameron Park (530-344-4480) and in Folsom on E. Bidwell Street (916-984-5853). Call the individual stores for hours of operation.
Longtime Snowline thrift store shopper Justin Canning of Placerville thinks he may have a problem: “Maybe I should belong to ‘Hospice Anonymous,’ because I shop there three or four times week,” said the 30-year-old El Dorado County employee. “I like to do some Christmas shopping there, too, because you can find some special stuff, some one-of-a-kind trinket that’s just right for someone on your list.”
Canning said the ever-changing inventory at the stores offers endless opportunities, including the time he was able to snag an old-fashioned 5-foot long cross-cut saw.
“I volunteer with the U.S. Forest Service clearing trails, and the saw was perfect for that kind of work,” he said. “You don’t find those just anywhere.”
It’s not just the vintage tools that fill the corners of the stores that attract him; Canning said the shopping experience overall is uplifting.
“The people there are awesome,” he said. “The staff and volunteers are the friendliest people around.”
Fellow shopper Judy Charnow of Placerville agrees.
“Everybody there is just as nice as can be,” she said. “For starters, I like to shop there because I love how all the proceeds go to Hospice. I started out shopping at the El Dorado Road store and now I volunteer there, too.
“What a lot of people might not realize is that the merchandise isn’t all second-hand, a lot of it is brand-new, still in the package. And it’s just a pleasant place to shop, as well,” the 71-year-old added. “They just painted the El Dorado Road store, and it’s nice and fresh and clean inside. For this weekend’s Holiday Spectacular, they closed everything down and brought out all the new things for the event.
“There’s all kinds of jewelry and gifts, just about anything you could imagine.”
Charnow just might run into Donna Nelson during the three-day shopping extravaganza, as Nelson has been a Snowline shopper for about 20 years and fully intends to take advantage of the holiday bargains.
“Oh goodness, yes,” she replied when asked whether her plans include a spree. “I like the fact that what I buy there not only makes good use of something that already has been used but that it helps support Snowline — and Snowline does good work in the community.”
Nelson, who said she’s “over 50,” likes to frequent the El Dorado Road location but also finds time to browse the bargains in Cameron Park and Camino.
“I remember one of my favorite finds was when I needed a specific bedspread,” she said of the wide selections offered at the six stores. “I went to one of the Cameron Park stores and not only found the right size, but the right color.
“And it only cost $12. I must have saved 60 or 70 bucks.”
Nelson summed things up: “Snowline Hospice is my favorite store.”
In addition to the phone numbers listed above for the individual stores, Snowline Hospice may be reached by calling 530-344-4433.