Lifestyle

Wall of Courage to adorn Bargain Boutique

Bargain Boutique manager Cynthia Van Buskirk prepares for the thrift store
Bargain Boutique manager Cynthia Van Buskirk prepares for the thrift store's move to 253 Winslow Way. The store, which raises funds for Seattle Children’s Hospital, will close on Sept. 13 and reopen Sept. 20 at its new location. A mural, “Wall of Courage,” which will feature local children who have been helped by Children's, will be unveiled Oct. 1.
— image credit: Brad Camp/For the Review

Bainbridge Island’s Bargain Boutique is moving soon for the first time since 1976, marking the third relocation in its 42-year history. The move, which was triggered by the Island Gateway project, will provide the nonprofit thrift store with additional sales space, parking, easier community access and an outdoor donation drop-box facility.

The Bargain Boutique will close on Sept. 13 and reopen Sept. 20 at its new location, 253 Winslow Way West. A grand opening, which will include the unveiling of the Wall of Courage – a photo exhibit with stories of hospitalized children helped by the store’s proceeds – will take place on Oct. 1.

The exhibit will also feature special needs volunteers who have been helped emotionally and physically while working in the store’s nurturing environment. The Wall of Courage will be maintained permanently and the store’s volunteer staff will continue to post inspirational stories of kids and adults who have benefited from the store.

Founded in 1968 by the Lenore Ostrander Guild, Bargain Boutique is one of six thrift stores located in Washington in which 100 percent of the proceeds directly benefit uncompensated care and research at the Seattle Children’s Hospital.

From used clothing to housewares, books, furniture and more, the store sells a wide variety of inexpensive goods. Additionally, it also does estate liquidations and accepts vehicle donations to auction.

While the majority of the merchandise is donated by islanders, the store also receives donations from Poulsbo, Kingston and even Port Townsend residents.

Comprised of just four part-time staff members, the store relies on volunteers to run a successful operation. The volunteers range in age from 11 to 80 years.

“I oversee the shop but the volunteers are hard workers and they make it happen every day,” said Cynthia Van Buskirk, the store’s director.

In addition to the regular staff, Bargain Boutique currently has 35 active volunteers, including Margie McDevitt, who has set aside Tuesday mornings to help serve the community.

McDevitt began volunteering at the Bargain Boutique 10 years ago simply because she was “being a good customer”; but, also “to help Children’s Hospital and because it’s fun,” she said.

“It’s a wonderful charity to work for. The hospital does remarkable things. And I get to associate with imaginative, creative staff, volunteers and customers.”

Over the last four years, Bargain Boutique has averaged an annual donation of about $60,000 to the Children’s Hospital.

Aside from benefiting children’s health, the store plays an active role in supporting the local community. Not only does it provide a place for local, low-income families to shop, it also teaches junior high and high school student volunteers about community service, retail business and customer service.

Additionally, Bargain Boutique provides positive volunteer opportunities for people with special needs. Susan Martin is just one of many examples.

Martin moved to the island in December 2008 after suffering a series of strokes that resulted in a short-term memory loss. She credits her recovery to the Bargain Boutique’s nurturing working environment and caring, devoted staff.

“These ladies were all like sisters and mothers, giving me projects to do and helping me to expand. For the depression it helped tremendously,” Martin said. “They were angels.”

“It was a tough ride, but these guys basically got us both through it,” said Beverly Martin, Susan Martin’s younger sister and caretaker. “They gave her total encouragement.”

Bargain Boutique is seeking volunteers to help with the move; those interested in volunteering please contact Van Buskirk at 842-5567.

By JENNEKE OOSTMAN

For the Review

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