UH thrift shop celebrates 30 years
By Jennifer Hiller
Advertiser Education Writer
Tucked in the back recesses of the University of Hawai'i-Manoa campus is a place where you can buy a necktie for 40 cents or old board games such as Candy Land for a couple bucks.
Lonely lids without their matching pots or containers go for 2 cents. Glasses, dishes and small appliances cost a bit more. But not much.
If kitchen stuff isn't what you're craving, there are teddy bears, vinyl records and algebra textbooks. Cheap.
Welcome to the Women's Campus Club Thrift Shop, a university institution for 30 years. Down a winding path behind the Biomedical Sciences Building and across from the campus credit union, the Thrift Shop offers a jumble of odds and ends donated by members of the university community.
Volunteers at the Thrift Shop are celebrating their 30th birthday this week the same way they marked their opening: with cookies, punch and a sale.
There are Buns of Steel tapes, a hanging green globe lamp that needs a home, 5-cent magazines and racks of clothes for children and adults. Paperback books cost 25 cents. Hardbacks are 50 cents.
Don't scoff. These modest pennies, quarters and dollars generated by the sales add up quickly. The Women's Campus Club uses its proceeds to give away $14,000 to $18,000 in grants each year.
Since 1971, proceeds from the Thrift Shop have generated $250,000 in grants.
The club has helped with everything from purchasing choir robes to giving $8,000 last year for playground equipment for Kapi'olani Community College's child-care center.
"It used to be things like bike racks. Now it's computers for the library," said Ann Bystrom, whose husband, John, taught communications at Manoa. "We take care of little needs. It's things that departments just want but they can't afford."
Most of the women involved in the club are retired faculty and staff members, or spouses of faculty and staff members.
The Women's Campus Club has been organized for decades, but the Thrift Shop started in 1971 as a way to raise money for playground equipment at the Manoa campus children's center. Ladies sorted and priced donations on a bench outside, stored everything in a vacant shed and created a store in the back of the credit union.
Their facility has improved over the years, but it remains modest and crowded.
Doris Krowell came to the Manoa campus in 1950 with her husband, David, a medical school faculty member. She's been involved with the shop from the start and now oversees the grants committee.
"This thrift shop pays off quite well," Krowell said. "We try to figure out how to make the money go the furthest."
Bargain hunters also can stretch their dollars.
This week, a student from Vietnam walked away with an armload of textbooks. Another lady smiled as she bought a long mu'umu'u for $1.
One woman, a beading enthusiast, found several pieces of costume jewelry she planned to pull apart and put together again in a whole new fashion.
The Thrift Shop is open Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursdays from noon to 3 p.m.
As per unofficial tradition, donations can be dropped off anytime on the steps. Trust me, the Thrift Shop volunteers love to find evidence of anonymous generosity.
Reach Jennifer Hiller at email@example.com or 525-8084.