Sunday, December 15, 2019
The Attic-‘No Ordinary Thrift Store’
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Cindy and Gary Schott show off one of their treasures: A rocking alpaca.
 
Thursday, November 21, 2019
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

You can buy a trophy, should you feel a need to boast of your Riverdance prowess. A papier-mache alligator. Or, four beautiful chairs with woven seats made in Italy that are in perfect condition.

Shopping The Attic thrift store is like winding your way through a never-ending maze of surprises and finds. And the inventory changes daily, offering a good excuse to return day after day.

“We’ve taken the place of what people might have run to King’s department store for,” said Cindy Schott, the store’s assistant manager. “I’d love to see people who have never shopped at thrift stores come see us because it’s such an amazing shopping experience.”

 
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These letters came from the old Devil’s Bedstead Building.
 

The Attic, located at 12 W. Carbonate St. in Hailey, might be considered the mall of Hailey. On a recent day one woman was searching through a couple large stacks of CDs and albums that included Ken Burns’ “Jazz” series and albums featuring the finger picking of Chet Atkins and the soaring symphonies of Beethoven.

Another shopper was thumbing through cookbooks, while a man checked out the tool section and a young woman tried to decide between a hundred-plus handbags of all shapes and sizes.

“If you can’t find something, ask us because chances are we have it,” said Cindy Schott. “And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, come back because it may be here tomorrow or the next day.”

The Attic supplies 20 percent of The Advocates’ general operating budget. In addition, The Advocates give clients—and others in need-- vouchers to purchase clothing and other items, such as a toaster to replace one that might have gotten broken.

 
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The globes hanging from the ceiling are not for sale. But the winter décor beneath them is.
 

“The Attic gives us a way to stay in touch with the community,” said Shannon Nichols, The Advocates director of development. “Whenever someone donates a jacket or piece of furniture, they’re investing in us, as opposed to selling something online.”

The Attic gets far more donations than it can put out at any one time. It keeps many of those donations in a double garage that used to house county trucks.

Over the years The Attic has received donations from actors and other celebrities that have homes in Sun Valley, as well as antiques donated by longtime residents of the Wood River Valley.

It’s also—ahem—has received its share of used toothbrushes. Those are not added to the inventory, Cindy Schott said. “But, still, it takes time to sort through them and throw them away.”

 
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On this particular day, Cindy Schott noted, The Attic had 75 bins of Christmas items ready to unpack on top of 25 bins that had already been sorted and priced.
 

One astute shopper was able to pick up a $15,000 St. Frances of Assisi garden statue for $50. Another shopper picked up an unused Baker chairs that cost $5,000 retail for $450.

Local businesses often donate new clothing and furniture. And there are plenty of vintage items from Bogner ski suits to a bench that used to sit in Louie’s restaurant and oxen yokes that once sat in someone’s flower bed.

 

 

 
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The Attic sorts clothes by color, rather than size.
 

“Our slogan is: No ordinary thrift store,” said Cindy Schott. “We’ve had people be able to furnish their condos and homes because we have such nice furniture donated to us. Even our new Mayor Martha Burke is a regular customer—she’s someone who recognizes value.”

Armed with their background running a retail Hallmark Cards business in Seattle, Cindy Schott and her husband Gary were able to train staff in customer service. Sales have increased 600 percent with more consistent pricing and the expansion of The Attic a few years ago.

And the number of employees has gone from one fulltime employee to six fulltime employees and two part-time employees with the addition of a livable wage scale and good benefits, to boot.

Store sales have grown from 2 percent of The Advocates’ operating budget to 20 percent.

“It’s a bit of a game figuring out pricing,” Cindy Schott said. “We want to price our items the best we can to support The Advocates, while having customers feel like they got good value.”

“The Advocates need more and more help over the years,” added Gary Schott. “When we moved to the Wood River Valley, they just had emergency shelter and counseling. Now, they have Skills for Success programs, transitional housing, the Green dot antibullying program…”

Gary Schott added that The Attic is fortunate to have people think of them when they go through their closet and take out the things they decide they no longer need.

 “The Attic is a boom for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, but it’s a boon for our customers, too,” he said. “When they can pick up an Obermeyer ski jacket for $12, they’re happy. And the Boise and Twin Falls thrift shops say they would love to have the things we get.”

 

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