Back in the 80s, the Muleshoe hospital auxiliary had a thrift store run by Jennie McVicker and Dorothy Green, wife of Dr. Green at the hospital. This thrift store operated from two different locations, the last one being on Highway 84. Time passed and about the time the hospital closed briefly, in 1986 or ‘87, Dorothy closed the thrift store. Without a hospital there was not much need for a hospital auxiliary, and Dorothy had grown weary of the shop anyway.
The Muleshoe Heritage Foundation, remember, had only been in existence a few short years by this time, and Vivian White, who had been active in both the Heritage Foundation and the hospital auxiliary, saw an opportunity to provide the community with a thrift shop while generating operating income for the Heritage Foundation. Vivian and her husband T.R. White, owners of White’s Cashway Grocery Store, had recently gotten out of the grocery business, and the building was available. The thrift shop was moved to the Cashway building, at the corner of Main Street and Avenue D. In 1998 Jeri (White) Flowers and her brother Cliff donated the building to the Heritage Foundation.
Thanks to Vivian’s efforts, the Heritage Foundation benefitted from the thrift shop’s revenue, now called the Heritage Thrift Shop. The Heritage Foundation’s only income sources had been from membership dues, the SCAC annual bake sale, proceeds from the Tour de Muleshoe, fund raisers, foundation grants written and submitted by Ann McElroy, and donations from interested patrons like Ray and Donna West, so this was a welcome source of funds to cover the day to day operating expenses of the Heritage Center.
The thrift shop is a veritable gold mine of bargains. Clothes and accessories make up the majority of their inventory, but they have a little bit of just about everything; books, kitchen items, furniture, toys, linens, magazines, novelty items, baskets, all kinds of things that people from the community donate rather than throw away. Furniture is an especially popular item; I was told that furniture sells very quickly, many times right after it has been put on display.
On Mondays Peggy Bates, Ruby Henderson, Mary Jo Burge, Martha Stroud, Jeraldene Richardson, (and for many years the late LaDean Spears) dig into the donations, inspecting, sorting, and preparing what will go on the shelves. When large items like furniture are left outside by the front door, J.C, Pearson comes over to help move them inside.
Twice a year the employees box up everything that hasn’t sold for the season and move it out to make room for more items coming in. This old inventory used to go to the Salvation Army, but it now goes to Concho Resource Center in San Angelo, where the items are still put to good use. You might like to know that Concho sells everything by the pound to Saver’s Thrift Shop in Lubbock. Concho Resources then uses that income to employ and train the mentally and physically challenged, enabling them to become productive and self-sufficient citizens. But the benefits don’t stop there: whatever doesn’t sell at Saver’s Thrift Shop is then sold at a low rate and shipped overseas to 200 developing countries who then give those items yet another life. India, for example, routes the books sent to be used in their schools. All this recycling and reuse keeps a million pounds of waste per year out of landfills, a worthwhile accomplishment in itself.
I asked the ladies about some of the more unusual items they have come across when sorting the inventory, and Peggy laughed that once someone brought in a pair of fuzzy house shoes, each filled with a full can of beer. She figured someone was hacked when they discovered they were two cans short of their supply. She also said that many times new clothes with the tags still in tact are donated.
There are those dedicated shoppers out there who delight in scouring the racks and coming up with nice complete outfits for a fraction of the cost at retail stores and those who just want to stretch their clothing dollar with bargains. I find the thrift shop helpful when I need the occasional replacement piece, like a lid for my Corning Ware casserole dish, or drawer dividers to organize my drawers, long-sleeved work shirts, older real Levi’s without Spandex in the denim, those nice fat plastic hangers-a real bargain at ten for a dollar, really cheap flower pots, hardback books, belts, snow skiing apparel, men’s work overalls for a costume once, and other things I need from time to time.
The thrift shop is open to accept donations every Monday morning from 8 to 12 and open for business on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 to 4. Save yourself some money and support your Heritage Foundation at the same time. You’ll be amazed at what you might find.
Thanks to Dolores Harvey, Jeri Flowers, Sheila Stevenson, Jennie McVicker, Lela Ann Smith, Peggy Bates, Ruby Henderson, Martha Stroud, Mary Jo Burge, Jeraldene Richardson, Marilyn at Concho Resource Center, and Rachel at Saver’s Thrift Shop for helping me gather information for this article.