As new volunteers for Fresh Start Treasures, a charity resale shop in Phoenix, Gayle, Peggy, and I spotted each other from the parking lot. Dressed presentably in black, with an eager smile, we recognized our own and gathered to wait for the shop to open, talking about what Fresh Start Women’s Foundation (FSWF) means to us. Through FSWF, women have been helping women for almost 10 years. Now, we were helping to launch a new chapter in the organization’s history, the opening of their resale shop.
What I realized throughout the day is that Fresh Start Treasures, the shop, is carrying out the organization’s mission in more ways than they could have imagined. In the shop they have created a pleasant environment where women are gathering to look better, feel better, and connect with other women. All volunteer run besides the store manager, the volunteers are where the magic happens. We were bursting with enthusiasm as new customers came through the doors, personally welcoming them, offering to hold their bags so they could shop unburdened, and even giving them a personal tour of the store. We had better customer service than you could find in any shopping experience at this time of year. When a customer was willing to have assistance, we would go the extra mile. Gayle acted as a personal shopper for one woman who was looking for an outfit for a holiday party. They found an elegant skirt and jacket set that made her look like a million bucks.
My feel good moment of the day was talking to a woman who explained through broken English how she traveled one and a half hours by bus to get to the store on a friend’s recommendation. She walked in the door carrying her coat and another bag and I immediately welcomed her and offered to hold them at the counter as she shopped. Her face lit up and she thanked me, saying she didn’t want to ask because many shops don’t allow that. She spent at least an hour going through all of our racks, picking out an armload to try on. Finally she came up to the counter just beaming with several new pieces of nice clothes. As a bargain hunter myself, I could recognize that elation of finding an outfit that makes you look great and doesn’t cost you your entire paycheck.
Speaking of bargains… Fresh Start Treasures doesn’t look like a resale shop when you walk in. There’s a basic formula in most retail where the more white space and room between the garments you can see the higher the price will be. Not here. You can get like-new Chicos, JCrew, Banana Republic, and Ann Taylor for 50-75% off retail. All of the volunteers were eyeing outfits, which is dangerous since the usual trap of working retail is that you spend your whole paycheck in the store. Our $0 paycheck wasn’t going to stretch very far.
As you can tell from my enthusiasm, I really enjoyed my experience volunteering at Fresh Start Treasures. It brought me back to working at Mountain Sports in Flagstaff, and made me realize that I actually love working in a clothing boutique. That’s the great thing about volunteering, you can have your career and keep doing those odd jobs that you love in your spare time while helping the community.
To volunteer at Fresh Start Treasures, contact email@example.com.
The shop is located at 3949 E. Thomas Road, Phoenix, AZ 85018
Closed Sunday & Monday
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 10 am to 5 pm
Thursday 10 am to 7 pm
Saturday 10 am to 3 pm