Oak Harbor’s Soroptimists are excelling in the world of retail by combining their passion for women’s issues and their love of thrift shopping.
Their Upscale Resale store, which opened on State Highway 20 just last year, became too small for the operation and found a larger space next to Ace Hardware on Pioneer Way.
While the store is new, the Oak Harbor chapter has been around since 1981.
“We were outgrowing our space,” said Paige Bates, the Oak Harbor chapter president, who credits the store’s popularity to the Soroptimist’s positive message and programs.
“We have been getting a lot of club and community support,” said Bates.
“A lot of people know what we do with our awards and scholarships.”
What they do is work together to help provide resources for women and girls to create positive change in their own lives and their communities.
Soroptimist is an international volunteer organization of individuals in nearly 1,500 clubs in 19 countries with projects ranging from renovating domestic violence shelters and providing mammograms to low-income women, to sponsoring self-esteem workshops for teenage girls.
This also includes scholarships and awards for women, as well as more serious efforts to help education about domestic violence and human trafficking.
The Oak Harbor chapter comprises 95 women “and two brave men,” according to Karla Freund, one of the store’s three co-managers.
The chapter members both volunteer as staff at the store, as well as support the efforts by shopping there.
Freund said she loved the idea of having a store supporting the chapter because she liked the recycling aspect of it, and she also likes to shop that way.
“We’re our own best customers sometimes,” Freund said.
Bates said she got involved in the chapter because of her great respect for the organization.
“Being a women, and having two girls of my own, I wanted to be involved with an organization taht supports women and girls,” Bates said.
Open on Aug. 1, the stores new location has already brought an influx of traffic, including a lot of young people who like to walk up and down Pioneer Way.
“We’re excited by the younger crowd,” Bates said.
The store’s lighted sign should be reinstalled at the new location sometime this week.
The group plans to have a grand opening sometime in August.
For more information on the Oak Harbor Soroptimists, visit www.sioakharbor.org