Catholic Thrift Store celebrates 35th anniversary

ST. GEORGE — The Catholic Thrift Store is celebrating 35 years in business by honoring the community and their volunteers with a party at the Courtyard by Marriott starting at noon on March 19, 2016. The event will honor the volunteers, contributors,  and community supporters who have participated in their efforts throughout the years, Angie Mittleberger said. Mittleberger is the last surviving thrift store founder and an original Catholic Women’s Group member.

The Catholic Thrift Shop located on 500 East, St. George, Utah, March 17, 1981|Photo courtesy of the Catholic Church of St. George, St. George News
The Catholic Thrift Shop located on 500 East, St. George, Utah, March 17, 1981 | Photo courtesy of the Catholic Church of St. George, St. George News

“We’re just going to have a great big party,” Mittleberger said.

History

The Catholic Thrift Store opened its doors as a non-profit organization on St. Patrick’s Day,  March 17, 1981, at a time when there were less than 100 Catholic families living in Washington County.  The main purpose behind opening the store was actually focused on solving one problem: Termites.

The building which functioned as the Catholic Church had a termite infestation, so raising money for an exterminator was critical, Mittleberger said.

Members of the Catholic Women’s Group were holding garage sales and selling baked goods to raise money for various renovations needed in the original building, an old Presbyterian Church purchased by the Catholic Church in 1951, located at 259 W. 200 North in St. George, Utah.

Appliance and housewares, Catholic Thrift Store, St. George, Utah, Feb. 16, 2016|Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News
Appliance and housewares, Catholic Thrift Store, St. George, Utah, Feb. 16, 2016|Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

However, the cost of ridding the entire structure of termites was substantial, Mittleberger said.

After one of the weekly Catholic Women’s Group meetings, a few of the women got together and decided to open a thrift store, she said.

“It was risky, and no one really knew if it would succeed at the time, and some even said it would never make it in St. George,” she said.  “Maybe not, but we decided to give it a try regardless.”

It was a rough start in the beginning, Mittleberger said. In fact, one of the parishioners paid the store’s second month’s rent just to keep the doors open, she said.

Thirty five years later the thrift shop is still in operation, growing from five volunteers in 1981 to more than 180 volunteers in 2016, many of whom have remained volunteers at the store for decades. There are only two paid administrative positions, and the rest are volunteers, she said.

The net income from the store has been dedicated to the building fund since the beginning, and continues supporting the growth and expansion of the parish until this day, Mittleberger said.

“Typically we donate in excess of $200,000 annually to the building fund, and do hundreds of cases of charity every year,” she said.

We are so grateful for all of our volunteers because without them this could not be done,” Mittleberger said. “And of course the people that donate to us all the time, it’s amazing,” she said.

The Catholic Thrift Store is located on the first floor of the  Bishop Scanlan Catholic Center,  located at 259 W. 200 North in St. George, Utah.

Event details

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

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