Boutique-Style Thrift Store Benefits Community

It’s Christmas in July, but proceeds are gifted to charities all year long

By Dana Trumbull

Volunteers raided the boutique’s back room and storage sheds to bring out the holiday stock for opening day of “Christmas in July,” July 5, at the Community Thrift Store Thursday.

Throughout the month of July, the store, which is owned by the AJ First Assembly of God and manned by volunteers, will celebrate with 25% off featured merchandise. But that’s not the only way to save: every Monday is Veteran’s Day, offering vets 25% off; Thursdays are Senior Discount Days (25% off for 55+) and every other Saturday brings a 50% discount for all shoppers.

Like a bottomless Christmas stocking, hung by the chimney with care, all proceeds, year round, go to support faith-based charities such as the Hope Women Center, CAAFA, Genesis Project, the AJ Veteran Center and more. “My goal is to have $10,000 per year that I can distribute to charitable agencies,” stated Store Director Reverend Brenda Brakeman. The church’s long-range goal is to fund a faith-based recovery center that will help people overcome the issues that bind them in poverty and homelessness, so that they can choose to move forward in their lives.

The store is small, but well-organized, neat and clean. The typical thrift store odor is completely absent, enhancing the pleasure of the treasure hunting experience. Little bags of essential oils tucked into unobtrusive spots throughout the store also add to the ambiance.

Unexpected treasures and creative displays abound throughout, giving the store a boutique feel. For example, the Community Thrift Store has gained a reputation for great values on glassware and china. “Young adults don’t put the same value on fine china,” explained Brakeman. “It’s not that they don’t appreciate it; they just have no use for it. So we get a lot of china from estates. The heirs know that we will treat these beautiful pieces and sets with the care they deserve, sell them to someone who will appreciate them and use the profits to help others in our community.”

Volunteer staff routinely research the value of many items, including the fine china. Items of higher value may be consigned to eBay, where a donated set of sterling silver recently sold for $450. Books are searched by ISBN, and higher value tomes are advertised in the shop’s Amazon bookstore. “It’s time consuming,” said Brakeman. “But it’s worth it.”

On the other end of the spectrum, magazines and books that don’t sell are picked up by a company that recycles them, turning them into paper – and keeping them out of the landfill.

Treat yourself to a Christmas shopping spree in July – and know that your purchase is helping your neighbors – visit the Community Thrift Store, 555 W. Apache Trail, Ste B, Apache Junction, AZ. Call: 480-982-3649 or email: for more information.

Photo above: Store Manager Robyn Timm Shaw (left) and Store Director Brenda Brakeman (right) are featuring Christmas in July at the Community Thrift Store in AJ.

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