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Thrift stores help holiday shoppers save, impact communities

Ashley Morales

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Shoppers can score a deal and support a local domestic violence nonprofit by shopping at the CASA Thrift Boutique in St. Pete. Photo: Ashley Morales.

As inflation shrinks household budgets and families feel the holiday pressure, more are considering thrift shopping as a way to save.

According to thrift shopping website ThredUp’s Annual Resale Report, secondhand shopping is expected to grow 127% by 2026, three times faster than the global apparel market overall. 

At the CASA Thrift Boutique on 1st Ave North in St. Pete, many more people have been coming through the doors. CASA Pinellas is a local nonprofit dedicated to supporting survivors of domestic violence. Proceeds from the thrift boutique support CASA’s robust roster of programs.

“It’s not just shelter, which is what most people think of as domestic violence services,” said Lariana Forsythe, CEO of CASA Pinellas. “Our services include case managers, it’s food support, it’s housing programs. We do almost $2 million in just rehousing people. It’s all sorts of things that people need to safely direct their own lives moving forward.”

Forsythe says proceeds from the thrift store contribute nearly $1M towards the nonprofit’s approximately $9.5M operating budget. The thrift boutique is stocked with donated items like clothing, accessories, furniture and home goods. As holiday shopping ramps up, Forsythe says shoppers can not only get a great deal at the CASA thrift boutique, but also make a direct impact in the local community.

“Instead of going to a corporation, it’s directly affecting somebody’s life,” said Forsythe. “There are things that can exacerbate the risk of domestic violence, like pregnancy, losing a job or stress, so the holidays can be a tough time for some families. The programs and services we provide absolutely save lives daily.”

CASA Pinellas CEO Lariana Forsythe says the nonprofit’s thrift store is known for carrying a large selection of “high-end” items. Each purchase from the thrift boutique translates into tangible support for CASA Pinellas programs that empower survivors and work to prevent domestic violence. Photo: Ashley Morales

Suncoast Hospice also operates three resale shops in Pinellas County – two in Clearwater and one at 3533 49th St. N in St. Pete. Proceeds from the stores support the care services Empath Health (Suncoast Hospice is a member of Empath Health) provides to individuals and families in Pinellas County. 

“All the revenue from all three stores goes directly back into the community in terms of providing funds for Empath Health for life care and hospice services or end-of-life care services to those who otherwise could not afford it,” said Joan Di Blanda, Regional Resale Manager for Suncoast Hospice. “We do not turn anyone away.”

Suncoast Hospice Regional Resale Manager Joan Di Blanda says items that “bring back a lot of nostalgia” are always big sellers at their three resale stores in Pinellas County. Photo: Suncoast Hospice Resale Shops

Di Blanda says the benefits go beyond saving a few bucks at the register – secondhand gifts are better for the local economy, the community and the environment. She adds that while some of the donated items at their resale stores come from the general public, many come from the families of patients in hospice and end-of-life care.

“That’s a really emotional time for people,” Di Blanda said. “We feel that it’s a way of honoring our loved ones by revolving their items back into the community as a way to live on.”

The Suncoast Hospice resale shops operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday (get all three addresses here). CASA’s thrift boutique is located at 1011 1st Ave N. in St Pete and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

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