MANATEE -- Resale and thrift shops are not just about good deals and unique finds, they are also known as comfortable places for community members to spend time and volunteer.
Much to shoppers' delight Monday is National Thrift Shop Day -- a day typically marked by sales and special offers. It's just icing on the cake for regular customers such as Debbie Roberts who comes in almost every day to look for new treasures and appreciate the bargains and the familial atmosphere.
"I'm the champion bargain shopper," Roberts said. "I like finding deals and it's relaxing to get away from the day-to-day and sort through things."
Soon Roberts was catching up with Terry McCreary, Goodwill's assistant team leader, about McCreary's vacation and her husband's recent surgery.
"It's just like family in here," Roberts said.
It's that familial atmosphere at the Goodwill store at 5512 Manatee Ave. W. that keeps customers coming back, McCreary said.
Like Goodwill Manasota, Manatee Memorial Hospital Foundation Thrift Shop will mark National Thrift Shop day with special sales and offers.
The hospital's thrift store at 4517 Manatee Ave. W. will offer 30 percent off of furniture on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday of this week and 50 percent off of clothing starting on Wednesday and running through Saturday.
Goodwill Manasota's deal comes in the form of a Facebook contest. Customers can post, comment, message or share photos of their favorite Goodwill Manasota finds with reasons they love their purchase and enter for the chance to win a $25 or $10 gift certificate to Goodwill. Three winners will be selected.
Sheron Calhoun has worked for Goodwill for 19 years. She said there's nothing she doesn't like about her job.
"It's everything; mostly the customers, because without them, there is no us," Calhoun said. "Goodwill is here to provide whatever you need. And everyone needs something."
For Calhoun, it's not just providing material goods to people in need, but she finds satisfaction in comforting people when their needs go beyond the material.
"Coming here helps you forget what's on your mind," Calhoun said. "People often are looking for courtesy, gentleness and kindness."
Goodwill provides jobs to out-of-work people and those with disabilities. The
organization's mission makes Calhoun and McCreary's jobs satisfying, they said.
"I like that we give people with barriers to employment the ability to get back into employment," McCreary said. "And we give people with disabilities a chance to show their worth in society because many of them think they're worthless."
Goodwill Manasota's entire staff make above minimum wage, said Kelly Davis Strausbaugh, marketing and PR coordinator for Goodwill.
The same family oriented atmosphere is found at the Manatee Memorial Hospital Foundation Thrift Shop. More than 100 hospital auxiliary volunteers are on call to sort the many donations the shop receives. People will make the trip from Anna Maria Island, Palmetto and even St. Petersburg to visit the store said president of the hospital foundation's auxiliary Hank Larson.
"The quality of donations is amazing," said Robin Cox, manager of the shop.
The hospital's thrift shop, which last year donated more than $200,000 to scholarships for Manatee County medical students and other charitable purposes, expanded its physical space in December 2013 and has since seen an upward trend in sales and donations. They're an example of national trends.
Thrift store establishments across the United States grew by 10 percent and sales at resale shops grew by 40 percent between 2007 and 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the industry will employ 175,000 people by 2020.
Janelle O'Dea, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow her on Twitter@jayohday.