This year is one of celebration for Attic Treasures in Harlem.
The nonprofit consignment store was honored in November by a resolution from city officials.
“... This exceptional organization is run entirely by volunteers who spend countless hours working in support of their mission,” according to the resolution.
The store, which supports a variety of charitable organizations, has put almost $125,000 back into the local community since 2008.
Store president Ann Blalock said that in November 2012, volunteers running the store took a “leap of faith” and moved into a new location – the former IGA store, which is nearly quadruple the size, and rent, of the 3,000-square-foot downtown Harlem location.
“We definitely have a place for everything now,” Blalock said of the 13,000-square-foot building. “We have room to work.”
The store opened in 2005 as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. A handful of volunteers, including Blalock, decided to take it over in 2007.
“We said we were going to try it for three months and we were not going to do it just to pay the rent,” Blalock said. “If we were going to do something, it was not necessarily very rewarding to just pay the rent.”
Volunteer Rikki Dean said working at the store is a labor of love.
“We love it,” Dean said. “We have certain days that we’re supposed to do. If you saw the back (room), we all come up more often than that because there’s just not enough (people) to keep ahead of everything.”
“Everyone that is here puts in lots of hours,” said volunteer and store treasurer Loreen Reynolds. “They are all happy doing it. Everyone is here because they want to be here.”
Blalock said since the move a year ago, donations, customers and volunteers have increased. Donations back to community organizations grew from about $1,000 to $4,000-$5,000 a month, Blalock said.
Store proceeds originally went to the Relay for Life.
“All of a sudden, we realized we were making more money than we wanted to give to cancer, Relay for Life,” Blalock said. “So we picked up another thing, then another.”
From February 2008 through September 2013, the store has contributed $10,200 to Relay for Life, $13,450 to Columbia County Cares food bank, $13,260 to the Harlem United Methodist Church Social services, an outreach program that helps those in need with food, utility bills and other expenses, and a variety of Harlem and Columbia County organizations like schools, sports teams, disaster relief efforts and cancer and military support organizations like the Fisher House and the Lydia Project.
One of the largest expenses is nearly $20,000 for providing Christmas for local children. The program is a passion of Reynolds, who has organized it for six years. The first year, the program provided necessities and Christmas toys for 20 children. This year, Reynolds said she shopped for 149 children.
The store accepts and resells donated items such as clothing, purses, shoes, jewelry, toys, books, household items like decor, furniture and small appliances.
“We take everything except electronics,” Blalock said.
Blalock said it isn’t just the donations that make the store rewarding for those who run it, it’s the people it serves as well.
“It really makes you feel good when you see this young couple that you know (are having problems supporting their family),” Blalock said, “and she can go out there and clothe the whole family for $20.”
The store, 575 Milledgeville Road, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday. It is closed Sunday and Monday.
Blalock said the store is always in search of good donations and good volunteers. The mission will continue.
“We’ll just turn it over to the Lord and let Him decide,” Blalock said. “It’s just been incredible where the help has come from.”