Retailer spotlight: Bethesda Thrift Shop
Bethesda Lutheran Communities is a non-profit organization that provides support for people with developmental disabilities. As a means to support the organization’s group home facilities, Bethesda Lutheran Communities began opening thrift shops in 1960.
“We truly believe in and advocate for our non-profit’s mission,” says Bethesda’s Ann Blatzheim,
“and feel that as our business grows, our organization can help more people with developmental disabilities.”
The store’s vast product mix, including many high-quality items, entices customers to return often, according to Blatzheim. “We have a large volume of donations, so we are extremely fortunate on how much product we can have out on our sales floor. Our inventory turns over quickly so it is easy to find something new. We organize our store like a retail shop with designated areas so it is easy to find a treasure in a hurry.”
Bethesda recently launched an online shopping option, BethesdaThrift.com, in late December 2020.
Blatzheim says the store’s Facebook page gives followers an insider’s sneak peek at upcoming sales and events. They can also access DIY project ideas and view the outfit of the week. “Our color tag sales run from Sunday to Saturday, and we post them on our Facebook page at 8 p.m. the night prior to the sale. So, Sunday is a good day to come in to shop for the best selection on 50% off clearance items.”
While Bethesda does have a core group of customers, each day brings new faces, too. “Once we get someone in the store, they become regular customers,” Blatzheim says.
Blatzheim comes to Bethesda with a background in retail management, and is working on her second graduate degree. “I was a shopper and noticed they were hiring, and at the time I was looking for part-time, which turned into full-time.” Her wardrobe is largely made up of items from Bethesda, and she loves the big difference between retail prices vs. thrift store prices.
“Customers do comment that they shop here because they care about the environment and would rather reuse than purchase new,” she says. The store emphasizes maximizing the longevity of a product, keeping it out of the trash. “Most of our customers love saving money by buying thrifted items versus buying new at retail prices, while helping the environment,” she says.
“We rely on the help of over100 volunteers in our store and donation center,” Blatzheim says. “The volunteers price products, assist at the donation door, organize store shelves and create product displays.”
Bethesda’s COVID-19 protocols include acrylic shields and social-distancing stickers on the floor at registers, and a mask-wearing policy displayed on store signage, which employees enforce at the door. For those who have medical reasons that prevent them from wearing masks, employees help those customers shop so they can keep distanced from others.
A part of Hennepin County’s Choose to Reuse program, Join the Circle encourages residents to buy used goods rather than new – not only to reduce waste and preserve natural resources, but to save money. By joining the circle, residents receive useful tips, as well as exclusive benefits at participating retailers. You can learn more and Join the Circle today at hennepin.us/choose-to-reuse/learn-more
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