A mere whim of an idea by three Silverton women who love to bargain shop has turned into a reality for a local senior center.
“The Silverton Senior Center Thrift Shop looked like a ripe opportunity to transform into something really special for our community,” says Arlea Gibson, one of the three. “The timing was perfect.”
With a resounding “yes” from board president Darlene Blackstone and executive director Dodie Brockamp, Gibson, Kiki Hamilton and Molly Ainsley put their plan into action.
“Over the years, the thrift shop became crowded with merchandise and parts of the building needed repair,” Brockamp says. “These three women stepped forward to ‘revamp’ the shop from head to toe.
“We completely emptied the shop, storing the ‘good stuff’ in donated space, selling much of the remaining merchandise at huge discounts, and donating the rest to selected area charities,” she adds. “We got our landlord to repair several pesky leaks in the roof and painted every inch of the walls and ceiling. Due to the generosity of one of our board members, who is also a licensed electrician, we were able to completely rewire the remaining space to bring it up to code and to upgrade the lighting from a few ancient fluorescent bulbs to a ceiling full of energy-efficient LED panels and spotlights.”
Brockamp credits “many hours, legions of volunteers, much ingenuity, and donations of all kinds” for the ability to pull off the transformation with a small $2,000 budget.
“Now when people step through the door for the first time, it’s not unusual to hear a gasp followed by, ‘Wow, it truly is a different place,’” she says. “Since reopening, we have made up the revenue lost during the six-week shutdown, recovered the cost of the renovation, and greatly increased our ability to support the senior center.”
Store manager Paula Pickering says the change took just over a month.
“We all worked hard and the outcome was night and day,” she says.
Blackstone says the store’s name was officially changed to ReVamp Thrift to reflect the dramatic change in the look and feel of the shop and shift in merchandise mix, which now includes clothing for all ages and sizes, accessories, jewelry, home décor, home goods, small furniture and books.
“We are unable to accept large furniture, electronics or appliances,” she says.
All sales revenue, after rent and utilities, goes directly to support the senior center, one of the state’s few completely independent and self-sufficient senior programs, she says.
“We are so grateful to the Silverton community — the small town with the big heart — for supporting both the shop and the center,” Blackstone says. “We are especially grateful to Arlea Gibson, Kiki Hamilton and Molly Ainsley for their vision and tenacious elbow grease in transforming the shop to the beautiful and welcoming space that makes our visitors say ‘wow.’”☸
ReVamp currently operates with about 10 volunteers. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
“We are in need of more volunteers,” Pickering says. “For the place to run smoothly, it needs two staff on — one to deal with customers and one to deal with donations. And we don’t have a full staff for that yet.”
Volunteer applications and donation guidelines are available at silvertonseniorcenter.org. For more information, call the center at 503-873-3093 or ReVamp at 503-874-1154. The thrift store is located at 207 High St., between Water and First streets in Silverton.