If you’d like to do some bargain hunting, and help local charities in the process, consider visiting a thrift store.

Whether you’re donating to the cause, or buying up items in the stores, it’s a good feeling to know you are helping people and animals often in crisis situations.

Here are three charities in the Portland metro area that are partially supported by thrift stores.

Tigard Discovery Shop

Charity: American Cancer Society

Donations: Must be of high quality, and include clothing for men, women and children; accessories; household décor items, dishes and collectibles, and more.

Proceeds: Helps fund cancer research and local programs and services, including patient housing, support groups, wellness programs, rent and housing assistance, and grief support.

Manager Peggy Buytaert has been working at the Tigard Discovery Shop for about 17 years and says the friendliness of the volunteer staff provides socialization for the local community.

“Our store fits a niche in the community,” she says. “The majority of our customers are senior citizens and their only outing and socializing is in the Discovery Shop. They drop in once a week and visit with the clerks. Some never buy anything. This is not the point, but a service we willingly provide. These are people with limited incomes as are the increasingly younger people we are seeing.”

Do a little hunting in the store and you could walk away with a sweater you’ve always wanted, valued at $168, but sold for $12. Antiques sell for a quarter of their value.

Volunteers research the original prices of donations and then mark them down considerably. They want the merchandise to move.

For example, a Steuben glass bowl that retails for $700 was sold the day it was placed on the shelf. “It was priced too low,” Buytaert says, also mentioning a Noritake fine China set that retailed for $1,000 and sold in her store for $125.

Accepting donations means an occasional surprise, such as the donation of a gold tooth, dentures or an avocado slicer.

Buytaert has observed changes in buying habits over the years. With dishwashers and microwaves now commonplace, fewer people are buying anything that can’t be put in them.

Tigard Discovery Store is located at 11545 SW Durham Road, Tigard.

Learn more: See their Facebook page for up to date information, or call 503-684-9060.

Cat Adoption Team Thrift Store

Charity: Cat Adoption Team

Donations: Clothing, craft supplies, books, housewares, jewelry, accessories, vintage finds, pet supplies, and more.

Proceeds: Helps support the adoption of more than 3,500 homeless cats per year.

Not only can you find valuable merchandise at a fraction of its value at the CAT Thrift Store, but you’ll always find one adult cat available for adoption as well.

Bobbie Winchell, retail manager, has been at the thrift store since it opened seven years ago.

“We keep the best of the best,” she says, as she points out some of the bargains.

Two 6-foot metal chickens that make striking yard art and were sold regularly for $1,000, left the store for $200.

This thrift store has sold Tiffany jewelry, handmade stoneware by a local artist that retailed for $5,000, Picasso prints and other artwork, TVs, Frye boots, and Coach shoes and handbags.

The store is staffed mostly by volunteers.

CAT Thrift Store is located at 4830 SW Scholls Ferry Road, Tigard.

Learn more: Search CAT Thrift Store on eBay, or visit the store.

Upscale Store, Thrift Store, Consignment Store

Charity: Assistance League of Greater Portland

Donations: Designer wear and accessories, handbags, home décor, rugs, furniture, glass, artwork, books, Asian-inspired items, all types of clothing and shoes.

Proceeds: Benefits children in need, students and victims of violence, scholarship program, and William Temple House.

The Assistance League stores are like a shopping paradise, thanks to creative thinkers like volunteer Nanisca Apperson, who has worked in the store for more than 30 years.

A self-described “shopper’s shopper,” she was a regular at Nordstrom events, holding a champagne glass in one hand and a credit card in the other.

She helped influence the League to hold events that now regular customers eagerly anticipate. Some of these include a coat and jacket sale in January, a designer sale, jewelry event, Asian-inspired event, Eileen Fisher sale, and a handbag event in September.

For the handbag event, shoppers arrive early, scoop up armloads of bags, move to the corners of the store with their cell phones and research the original prices on the bags.

“They do their homework,” Apperson says of the shoppers. Last year’s event was “off the charts,” with more than 300 designer bags carrying names like Kate Spade, Longschamps, Furlo, Coach, Dooney Bourke and HCL.

Most of the clientele in the stores are 45 and older, but the sales staff is focusing on the younger generation because much of the designer wear is in small sizes.

But not everything has a designer label. The Bargain Room features home décor, furniture, glass, artwork, books, shoes and more. Each section of the store includes one or two volunteers who know the merchandise well.

Judi McCubbins has been working at the AL stores for 17 years. She had a background in retail and started working there when her son had a health crisis, and she felt she “wanted to save the world,” but retail was all she knew.

Her cheerful personality comes through as she describes the store’s donations. “You never know what donations are coming in,” she says. “It’s like opening Christmas gifts and wondering what’s in the boxes.”

Assistance League of Greater Portland is located at 4000 SW 117th Ave., Beaverton.

Learn more: Portland.assistanceleague.org, or call 503-526-9300.

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