Island Thrift serves up super deals

Island Thrift employee Sabrina Moody bags Chariti Isaacson’s purchase as her daughter Cashlynn Fowler patiently waits in the shopping cart. - Jenny Manning/Whidbey New-Times
Island Thrift employee Sabrina Moody bags Chariti Isaacson’s purchase as her daughter Cashlynn Fowler patiently waits in the shopping cart.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey New-Times

Specialty boutiques move aside: Island Thrift is in town.

Actually, Island Thrift is more of an island institution, with more than 30 years under its belt. And sales are holding strong, said Wendy Kettlewell, executive director.

“Between Halloween and Christmas, the holidays are our busiest time of year,” she said.

Despite the worsening economy, Island Thrift’s donations are on the rise, Kettlewell said, adding that the island store continues to receive plenty of good donations.

The same appears true elsewhere. Off-island donations to North Puget Sound Goodwill stores are holding strong, said Betsy McFeely, public relations director for Seattle Goodwill.

Kettlewell said Oak Harbor’s large Navy population may be a factor in the constant flow of donations as Navy families move in and transfer out to other bases, she said.

The shopping demographic varies, she said, adding that people of all ages browse the store’s isles.

And Kettlewell said it’s not unusual to see shoppers pulling into the parking lot 10 minutes before the store opens.

In fact, the lot in front of Island Thrift remains busy most of the day, so much so that a large wooden sandwich sign directs shoppers to park across the street in a gravel lot when there are no spaces left in front of the store.

Barbara Grey, store manager, said the store traffic ebbs and flows with the school schedule.

Parents tend to stop by after dropping off their kids in the morning, or in the afternoon before collecting the kids from school, she said.

Plenty of regulars frequent the nonprofit, said Kettlewell.

“I know them by name. It’s kind of like a big family,” she said. “You’ll see them at the back side dropping off a donation, then you’ll see them in the store shopping.”

Volunteer Helen Ludbigson, of Coupeville, echoes Kettlewell’s sentiments.

“I come for the people,” she said, adding that the volunteers and staff work hard to make the store a welcoming, inviting environment. Ludbigson would know, she’s helped out one way or another at Island Thrift for the last 28 years.

Lubigson, now 88-years-old, still volunteers every other week.

“We have a lot of fun,” she said of Island Thrift customers and staff.

Island Thrift is great for everyday necessities, home accents, and holiday specialty items and gifts, Kettlewell said.

A whiteboard in the entryway notes current sales. Specials vary depending on the inventory, Kettlewell said.

Donations come in without a rhyme or reason, she said, although the store experiences a jump in donations around the holidays as parents clean out their kid’s toy boxes to make room for the new trinkets waiting underneath the Christmas tree.

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