Thrift store and clothing center open at YWCA Elgin


Bacilisa Baeza of Elgin picks out clothes at a clothing center that opened in August at the YWCA in downtown Elgin.

A new thrift store open to the general public, along with a clothing center for the needy, quietly opened in the basement of YWCA Elgin, whose staff members are now spreading the word.

Thrifty Threads is open to the public from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. the first and third Wednesdays of the month. It becomes a free clothing center — available only via referral from the Community Crisis Center or the YWCA — the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month.

Client Bacilisa Baeza of Elgin got enough clothes — blouses, socks, sweaters, scarves and more — for herself and her 14-year-old child to fill a large laundry basket this week. “It’s really a great help,” she said. “There is everything you need here, and it helps so much that it’s free.”

The initiative was spearheaded by the Elgin Junior Service Board, which had dwindled to six members and disbanded this summer after 84 years of service to the community. Among the last holdouts were Sherry Kinser and Ursula Lund, both of Elgin, who decided they wanted to keep alive the organization’s long-standing clothing center, which was housed at the Association for Individual Development on Bowes Road in Elgin.

The pair approached the YWCA — with whom they traditionally had partnered to offer the yearly Cinderella’s Closet prom dress event for high schoolers — and pitched the idea of running the clothing center while adding a thrift store, Kinser said.

The Service Board donated about $10,000 to get the project going, part of about $30,000 left in the organization’s coffers that was disbursed to various area nonprofits, she said.

The clothing center serves 25 to 28 families per day; no records are kept of how many clients purchase clothes from the thrift store, where prices range from 50 cents for scarves and gloves to $5 for outerwear. Underwear is new, while the rest of the clothes are clean and gently used, Kinser said.

“People donate really nice stuff,” she said. “We even had a Michael Kors jacket. Brand name stuff.”

Client Margie Taylor of Elgin, who recently moved back from Georgia, said she was happy to have found nightgowns, tops and jeans at the clothing center. She also got a lunch bag, which would come in handy Thursday when she starts volunteering as a Salvation Army bell ringer, she said.

“I think it’s really nice here,” she said. “There are some places where the clothes are just on the tables, but here it’s really organized.”

The public can drop off donations of clean, gently used clothes from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday at the YWCA Elgin, 220 E. Chicago St.