New Agrace Thrift Store to open in Janesville

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Shelly Birkelo
Wednesday, December 11, 2013

JANESVILLE—If you're a bargain hunter and love shopping in thrift stores, you'll have a new place to explore this spring.

Agrace Hospice will open a thrift store "probably in April" at 2033 Humes Road, in the former Factory Card Outlet and Party Shop, said Judy Purcell, retail business manager.

"We expect to start accepting donations in March," she said.

The nonprofit, community-based hospice and palliative care agency already operates two other thrift stores in Madison. They are located at 1733 Thierer Road and 118 Junction Road.

What sets Agrace thrift stores apart from others is its connection to Agrace and its mission, and the understanding that proceeds go back into the community to help patients and the families the organization serves, Purcell said.

"It is really driven with volunteers. There aren't a lot of other thrift stores who use volunteers to the extent we do," she said.

By the time the store opens, Purcell expects to have 50 volunteers. Those workers will greet donors to receive their tax-deductible contributions and will serve as primary cashiers.

"Volunteers are essential to us. They are our first and last impression of those stores. We have minimal staff," Purcell said.

Volunteers also will fill one full-time manager and two assistant manager positions.

"The opportunity to apply for that (those positions) is right now,” Purcell said.

Purcell described the Agrace thrift shop's merchandise as somewhere between the 99-cent, white T-shirt thrift store and a high-end consignment store.

"We sell quality apparel and home furnishings at fair prices while offering an exceptional shopping experience that supports Agrace programs and services," she said. "People often don't get the impression we're a thrift shop. We're a little more upscale thrift store."

Agrace thrift stores also offer deals and events such as Thrifty Thursdays, when the stores offer a special, one-day sale; an email club that offers information about promotions and events, and a Thrifty Shopper Club Card that offers extra savings to frequent shoppers.

While the Madison stores host special events such as a trunk show of fall fashions and an annual tent sale, "it's too soon to really know what we're going to do for Janesville," Purcell said. "But at some point we will establish an annual event that is unique for that store."

Agrace also uses its stores for public outreach, offering informational brochures and employing staff that can explain services Agrace offers. A banner across each of the stores' back walls also shares the organization's mission.

"One thing we've learned in Madison (about the thrift stores) is it puts Agrace's name out in the community," Purcell said. “We hope to let more of the community know who we are (here)."

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