Sasebo thrift shop full of treasures
Anne Shinzato and Jenny Peterson co-manage Thrifty Treasures on Sasebo Naval Base. The thrift shop is the Sasebo Officers’ Spouses’ Club main venue for raising funds to benefit the base community. Shinzato and Peterson lead a group of volunteers from the club to provide gently-used clothing and household items for service members and their families at a low cost.
Shinzato and Peterson recently sat down with Stripes Japan to explain the secret of the shops success.
Q1. How has the shop grown in recent years and why?
Peterson: Over the past 2 years, the store has undergone major improvements. We reconfigured the entries and added a new ramp, steps, and entry awning so shoppers don’t have to enter from the old loading dock. A large exterior sign listing store hours was installed near the relocated entrance. Our old donation shed was replaced with a larger one for after-hour donations, thanks to an Eagle Scout who coordinated the work. The interior space was re-organized for better circulation and merchandise visibility, and signs for all of the display shelves and clothing racks were updated. We changed out the clunky, old metal storage racks for nice, functional book shelves and now have a great used-book section.
Shinzato: Having a consistent management team for 2 years, plus regular store hours, and a team of supportive volunteers has helped the store thrive, and raised the quality of merchandise. We’ve made great use of social media sites to keep the public informed of sales, fun finds, and special store hours which in turn has increased the store’s presence on base.
Q2. What are the funds that are raised used for?
Peterson: About half of the proceeds from Thrifty Treasures go towards the Officers’ Spouses’ Club Scholarship Program which is open to all graduating high school seniors affiliated with CFAS. The remainder is donated to a variety of CFAS school and community groups, such as MWR Youth Sports, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Sure Start, and the Navy Marine Corp Relief Society, just to name a few.
Shinzato: Funding has also supported USO events and charity golf tournaments, Individual Augmentee care packages, Seabee and Navy Balls, spelling bee awards, uniforms and travel expenses for high school sports teams, teacher appreciation luncheons, classroom supplies, ombudsmen appreciation, Christmas gifts for a local orphanage here in Sasebo, and the International Red Cross typhoon relief.
Q3. What made you decide to volunteer as managers?
Peterson: I was new to Sasebo and had stopped by to volunteer. The previous manager made me feel so welcomed and we just hit it off and became close friends. Volunteering was a fun way to hang out with her and keep the store operating when we were short on help. Most of the time it was just the two of us minding the store and it became part of my weekly routine along with teaching English to kindergarten and elementary school students. When her term was up, it was a natural transition to step into the management position. The past two years have had its ups and downs, but the rewards have definitely outweighed any challenges we’ve encountered. I‘ve enjoyed getting to know both customers and volunteers and will take many fond memories of this experience with me.
Shinzato: I enjoyed shopping at Thrifty Treasures before becoming a club member. After joining, I started volunteering once a month, then weekly, then multiple times a month. I knew that with a little bit of TLC and organization, the store had great potential. I had never worked in retail before and didn’t know what I was in for, but somehow things fell into place and it’s been a terrific experience. Sales have increased and it’s a good feeling knowing we make a difference in the lives of everyone affected. It’s been a fun place to volunteer at and shop at. I’ve met wonderful, interesting people, and seen many unique, weird and awesome items coming out of the donation bags.
Q4. Are there other volunteer opportunities there and what can people do to get involved?
Peterson: Yes, there are a myriad of opportunities for members of the Sasebo Officers’ Spouses’ Club. The store is always in need of help just to stay ahead of the mountain of donations, and keep the store running efficiently.
Shinzato: All club members are asked to volunteer at least 2 hours each month as a way of giving back to the community and fulfilling the club’s purpose of community-service. A monthly calendar is sent out to members and all they need to do is email back their availability, very easy.
Q5. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Shinzato: Opportunities for meaningful community involvement can reside in places where you least expect to find them.
Peterson: At some level, we can all make a positive impact in the lives of others.
Hours: Mon, Wed, Fri, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.,
2nd Wed of each month, 3:30 – 6 p.m. (for those who can’t make the mid-day hours.)
Location: Bldg. 303 on U.S. Sasebo Naval Base, (in one of the old brick warehouses, next to the Mini-Mart/Auto-Port)
Availability: Thrifty Treasures is open to all on-base shoppers, including visitors.