Longtime volunteers have helped make South Routt thrift store the heart of the community | SteamboatToday.com

Longtime volunteers have helped make South Routt thrift store the heart of the community

Customer Chris Manzanares visits with Sharon Ebaugh at the Phippsburg Community Club Thrift Store on Thursday, March 2, 2023. Ebaugh is a longtime volunteer at the store, which uses the money it raises from the sale of secondhand goods to support the community.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Many of those who venture through the doors of the Phippsburg Community Club Thrift Store are seeking secondhand treasures, but what they find is a sense of giving, a strong connection to the community and people who share decadeslong friendships.

“It’s the heartbeat of the community,” said Reggie Scofield, a longtime volunteer at the store and treasurer for the club. “We have a lot of great stuff, and this is where you come to see people.”

On Thursday, March 2, the volunteers greeted people by their first names or with a “How you are doing?” followed by a hug.

Inside the old Baptist Church at 21915 Third Ave., which has been home to the thrift store since 1971, the air was filled with friendly conversations as customers passed by tables of stuff ranging from dishes to vintage sewing machines.

In the building next door, customers will find well-loved jeans and other clothing items that still have a few more wash cycles in them. There are also toys that are sure to put a smile on a child’s face, and shoes that have traveled a few roads but still have plenty of miles left in them.

“We get a lot of good stuff,” said 95-year-old Verna Whaley, who is one of the longtime volunteers that helped get the store started around 1968. “We have a little bit of everything here.”

Whaley said the store was originally inside an old schoolhouse, but had to move after a furnace caught fire and the building burned to the ground. The store was then housed in the former location of a store owned by the Iacovetto family before moving to the Baptist Church in Phippsburg, which closed around 1973.

Today the store is open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Thursdays and is run by a group of seven volunteers who have been doing this for as long as they can remember. There have been conversations about expanding to open on weekends, but Whaley said that is unlikely at this time.

Charlotte Whaley, left, and her mother-in-law Verna Whaley mark items Thursday, March 2, 2023, at the Phippsburg Community Club Thrift Store at 21915 3rd Ave.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

“We just don’t want to put too much pressure on our volunteers,” Whaley said. “The people who work the store are all volunteers and most of us wanted our weekends off.”

Whaley is at the store at 9:30 a.m. every Thursday, along with her daughter-in-law Charlotte Whaley who has followed in her mother-in-law’s footsteps at the thrift store.

“We have just tried it in the past,” Charlotte Whaley said. “It’s just that so many people, like me, in the summertime we want to go camping or something like that.”

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The money the thrift store brings in — along with $3 fee many residents pay to be part of Phippsburg Community Club — is donated to help keep the streetlights on, support fire and ambulance services in the towns of Oak Creek and Yampa, and to aid people in need.

The store also provides vintage clothing and other items to theater programs in South Routt and lets teachers come in for things they might need for class.

“It’s amazing what we pay for,” Verna Whaley said. “But that’s part of the reason we do this.”

The Phippsburg Community Club Thrift Store was packed with coats, jeans, shoes and many others items on Thursday, March 2, 2023.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The store is also a town center that many people like to visit every Thursday, and depending on the week, patrons can find just about anything they want — and maybe a few items they didn’t know they needed.

The store has plenty of kitchen items including silverware, cookware, knives, glassware and even some china. Customers can find bikes, games and toys, as well as baby clothes, jeans, coats and many other secondhand items. But once inside the store, it doesn’t take long to realize that some of the most valuable things do not come with a price tag.

“I’ve been here for so long it’s just, you know, you have withdrawal symptoms if you don’t get to come,” said Sharon Ebaugh, who started visiting the thrift store when her children where in school.

She said her baby is now 46.

“There is a social part,” Ebaugh continued. “We’ve had people that you expect to see kind of regularly, and there are also a lot of new people that you get to meet when they come in to see what we have. It’s just a lot of fun.”

Volunteer Erika Larrson visits with longtime South Routt resident Noreen Moore outside the Phippsburg Community Thrift Store on Thursday, March 2, 2023. Larrson and her boyfriend Alex Androulidakis live in the area and have been volunteering their time to help out at the thrift store.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

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