Did you know that a few weeks ago the nation celebrated Second Hand Clothing Day?
If not, don’t worry. I don’t think many people noticed. But I will admit that in our house, it’s a holiday that we all love. And it all has to do with a tiny hamlet, deep in the Virginia mountains, called Upperville. Population 655. The heart of Upperville consists of a general store, gas station, Irish pub, and three churches. One of these churches, Trinity Episcopal, is built like a medieval cathedral.
Upperville also happens to be in the center of Virginia horse country (think Kentucky Derby-type farms and horses) and has some of the most expensive real estate in the state. In contrast, it also has some of the poorest rural homes in the state. And the people who live there—both rich and poor—have lived there for generations. Generations dating all the way back to pre-Revolutionary days.
So what does Upperville have to do with second-hand clothing day?
Trinity Church–the largest church in town–is in charge of keeping the local food pantry stocked (a pantry that feeds families in three counties). And one of the ways they do this is through their Golden Rooster Thrift Shop.
The Golden Rooster Thrift Shop is housed in a Federal-style brick home built sometime between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. It has no air conditioning or heat. And many of the windows have the original glass panes. Yet, despite its humble appearance, this thrift shop makes enough money to keep the food pantry stocked year-round. And when the annual County Stable Tours take place in May, the thrift shop holds a “Boutique Sale” where they sell the best things they’ve collected all year. This sale could feed the entire state for a week. (I may be exaggerating, but not by much. J)
There are so many reasons to shop and donate to second-hand clothing stores, the most important being that recycling and reusing keeps things out of landfills. But this thrift shop in particular is famous because of the what they sell and how many people the proceeds feed on an annual basis. Because of its location, the Golden Rooster Thrift Shop is the place where some of the richest people in the state (maybe in the country) donate their used clothing, furniture, and other household goods. I’m not talking clothing from The Gap or Talbots (although they carry those brands), I’m talking about original Chanel jackets from Paris and Ferragamo shoes from Italy. Name the uber-expensive brand, and this humble thrift shop has sold it.
The amazing thing is that these things don’t sell for hundreds of dollars, but for tens of dollars so anyone can shop there. Despite the low prices, the shop makes more than enough money for the food pantry and its other social services. And, even more impressive, the shop makes all of their money between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Saturday morning because that’s the only time they’re open to the public.
The thrift shop is manned entirely by volunteers who sort through the huge piles of donations, arrange them in the shop, and sell them on Saturday mornings. And my daughter and nieces will openly admit that their entire wardrobe comes from the thrift shop. My daughter even bought her prom dress there, as well as all the clothes she took to college.
It’s hard to describe the vibe in the Golden Rooster Thrift Shop—it’s a combination of gratitude and happiness. The first few times we went there, we had to stop shouting at each other across the store with things like “Look what I found!” and “It’s a Lily Pulitzer!”. Once we got used to going, and started donating those things we felt were worthy, we slowly became a part of the church family that runs the place. On Saturday mornings, those who are donating gorgeous things are just hoping that those who are shopping will find exactly what they need. And those shoppers are thrilled to find things that they’d not purchase otherwise. Then there’s the truth that all of the money (cash only) made in those three hours go to the most important ministry of all—feeding the hungry.
So if you ever get a chance to pass through Upperville, VA on a Saturday morning between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m., stop at the Golden Rooster Thrift Shop. It doesn’t look like much, but inside there’s magic fueled by generosity and love.
And once you’ve shopped, walk down the street to the Hunter’s Head Pub. Drink a pint (of beer or their home-made orange-vanilla iced tea) on the patio and talk to the locals. You may even hear stories about how, not that long ago, people rode their horses to town to eat, drink, and worship. And, of course, drop off their donations.
Sharon Wray is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes about the men in her Amazon bestselling Deadly Force romantic suspense series where ex-Green Berets meet their match in smart, sexy heroines who teach these alpha males that Grace always defeats Reckoning.
Her bestselling debut book EVERY DEEP DESIRE, a sexy, action-packed retelling of Romeo and Juliet, is about an ex-Green Beret determined to regain his honor, his freedom, and his wife. It’s available at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBound| Kobo| Google | Books-a-Million | Audible
Her second book, ONE DARK WISH, a passionate redemption of Othello with a HEA, is about an ex-Green Beret who must give up the woman he loves in order to redeem his honor and save the life of his men. It’s available at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | iBooks | Google | Kobo |IndieBound | Audible
Her third book, IN SEARCH OF TRUTH, is about an ex-Green Beret desperate to win back the woman he loves and save the men he betrayed, even if he must make the greatest sacrifice. It’s available at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | iBooks| Google | Kobo | IndieBound | Audible