Linda Ware, shop manager at the Burlington Woman’s Club Thrift Shop, is usually smiling behind the register, eager to help her next customer.
“We help people who need our help: someone off the street who needs a coat to keep warm, people who need clothes to bury a loved one and all kinds of situations,” Ware said.
The Burlington Woman’s Club formed in 1938 as a service organization. It worked in tandem with other organizations in Alamance County to improve the community. Ware said the Woman’s Club incorporated the thrift shop in 1970.
The thrift shop sells a variety of clothes, including suit jackets and shirts, all of which are first donated to the store by community members.
The thrift shop’s profits are reinvested into the community in the form of donations and scholarships to the Boys and Girls Home, Burlington Animal Center, Piedmont Rescue Mission, Women’s Abuse Services and Doctors Without Borders.
According to Ware, there are about 45 women that volunteer at the thrift shop every month. She said volunteers are pleased to see first-hand where their donations go.
As the shop’s 50th anniversary approaches, Ware said that it’s not only a celebration of the length of time but also of the continued service to the local community.
Recognized in downtown Burlington by its trademark green and white striped awning, the Burlington Woman’s Club Thrift Shop has bounced around the community. In 2005, however, the thrift shop found its permanent home at 317 S. Main St.
Ware said she joined the organization when a neighbor invited her to visit the shop. While she was not working at the time, Ware said she was eager to get involved in the community.
“It’s hard to imagine that it’s been around for that long, and I’ve been doing this job as a manager for 20 years. It goes by very fast,” Ware said. “It’s just a good way to spend your time helping other people. ”
Though the thrift shop is the club’s only avenue to make money, the organization has participated in other community events in the past.
The club completed a large art show in January, which involved a number of local schools and art teachers. Monetary prizes were awarded to the top artists, with winners earning the opportunity to compete at the district level.
“We just love giving back and supporting our community,” Ware said.
In honor of the shop’s 50th anniversary, Ware said the community is hosting a two-week celebration in downtown Burlington, with the largest gathering planned for May.
The thrift shop will hold anniversary sales, where discounts include a storewide markdown of 50% and “buy one, get two free” offers.
Ware said a big reason the shop is still around to celebrate its 50th anniversary is a result of the close relationship it has built with its customers and the greater community.
“We are here because of the people who are our customers who’ve been with us since our old location,” Ware said. “We help a lot of people, and we even get second-generation shoppers.”
The 50th anniversary of the thrift shop is a milestone for both the club and the community, representing half a century of service and local philanthropy.
“I’m most proud of the people we’ve gotten to know throughout the years and working to get to know the different people and make their lives better,” Ware said.