Sarasota’s consignment culture helps community

As the weather cools down and autumn settles in, sweaters and boots are drawn out of the closet. Sarasota County offers an intriguing variety of thrift stores and consignment shops, including one of the largest Goodwill stores in the region. While many of these places are simply clothing stores featuring great prices on flashback outfits, quite a few of them also benefit the community. To start off fall fashion the right way, these shops are must-stops.

SPARCC’s Treasure Chest is located downtown, on Fruitville Road, and is operated by Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC). SPARCC was founded in 1979 and remains the only state-certified center for sexual assault and domestic abuse services in Sarasota and DeSoto counties. All staff at SPARCC’s Treasure Chest are volunteers.

“The Treasure Chest provides one-third of SPARCC’s annual income,” Jessica Hays, SPARCC’s Director of Community Awareness, said. “Our money goes to victim services and the men and women are able to shop here for free,” she added.

“New College does a lot of things for SPARCC,” volunteer Gay Zuercher said. Currently, the New College SHARE center is accepting donations until Dec. 5 for parents staying at the SPARCC and Manatee Hope shelters through the holidays. An Independent Study Project which has been offered in the past involved students taking volunteer training for SPARCC.

Similar to many other thrift and consignment shops, SPARCC’s Treasure Chest accepts donations as well as furniture, art and collectibles. “We accept donations from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday and all you have to do is drive up to the back door and beep the horn,” Zuercher said.

Episcopal Thrift House is another consignment shop in Sarasota that benefits the community by donating all proceeds to charities. Focusing on women’s outreach charities, Episcopal Thrift House donates to over 10 charities including Mothers Helping Mothers, Support our Troops and Sarasota Pregnancy Clinic.

“I think you’ll find that most things here are quite lovely, we are very fussy about [merchandise] being clean,” Elizabeth Geils, a volunteer staff member at Episcopal, said. With skirts and shorts priced at $4 and well-kept, vintage coats and blazers at $8, Episcopal Thrift House harbors a good range of prices.

Another consignment shop in Sarasota involved in caring for the community is Encore and more, a shop downtown right off Main Street. Encore donates their proceeds to the Women’s Resource Center of Sarasota County to support their classes and programs. From velvet and beaded coats to patterned scarves, Encore has great fall outfits to offer.

A 2014 Guide to Consignment Shops in Sarasota and Bradenton lists over 30 different stores to choose from, with six thrift stores within five miles of the New College campus. It is safe to say that the thrift and consignment culture in Sarasota is booming.

Information for this article was taken from

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